Academic journal article Journal of Prenatal & Perinatal Psychology & Health

Ethical Considerations in Preand Perinatal Psychology Education

Academic journal article Journal of Prenatal & Perinatal Psychology & Health

Ethical Considerations in Preand Perinatal Psychology Education

Article excerpt

Abstract: Prenatal and perinatal psychology as a field of practice an emerging discipline in the healing arts. The development of a code of ethics is a marker of this maturity. This paper was developed for the Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health as part of its certification program for educators. It identifies specific concerns for these educators and for the field of practice as a whole, specifically the acknowledgement that education about early imprints can be an intervention in itself, and that there is a continuum with the prenatal and perinatal psychology and health profession from educator to practitioner. Educators need to be clear that they are disseminating information only and be able to recognize where information crosses over into practice and, thus, when to refer learners. A unique set of Principles developed by Ray Castellino is offered as a structure for ethical conduct, along with codes of ethics from childbirth educators, and education in general. Conclusions invite readers and professionals in this unique field to develop a code of ethics for practice.

Key words: Pre and perinatal psychology; ethics, childbirth, education, consciousness.

Professionally, preand perinatal psychology (PPN) as a field of practice is just emerging from adolescence. The establishment of professional ethics is a marker of maturity, and is often a response to patterns of problems within the discipline, especially to consumer demand and confidence (Foster & Lasser, 2011). Ethics also establishes a container for professionals to self-confront, self-reflect, and get support. This paper outlines practices that will give the educator a scaffold for specialized experiences, a place to hang them for sorting and resources for integration. It will:

* Name the issues at stake, identifying possible pitfalls and places in the educational experience for supervision and discussion in the PPN community;

* Outline the ethical issues common to most if not all helping professions; and

* Present avenues for support for the PPN education professional (PPNE).

It will also call the leaders of the field to task to continue on in the creation of a code of ethics in preand perinatal psychology.

Ethics for Preand Perinatal Psychology Educators

Ethics in the professions has several functions. First, ethics provides a moral compass for professionals to steer by. In medical practice, the most common and popular edict is "First do no harm." This moral rule, often called beneficence, is the strongest guiding factor in the healing professions and is important to preand perinatal psychology education. The difficulty in this field of practice is that the educator may unknowingly trigger the listener while imparting the information that babies are always recording experiences in the womb. For example, stating that a mother's thoughts and feelings may leave an imprint on the developing baby might trigger a mother in the audience who had a particularly stressful pregnancy. Such information may trigger the listener because many early overwhelming experiences in their own prenatal environment may be unknown to the listener cognitively, but remembered implicitly. Therefore a level of anxiety can emerge in the listener that has unknown origins in the moment. This makes it important for educators to adhere to a code of ethics.

Educators in the field of PPN are bound by ethics that govern education, childbirth, and the helping professions. Additionally, the code of ethics of educators includes pillars of moral character, such as trust, worthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship, that facilitate and direct professional behavior. Ethics in preand perinatal psychology education are collaborative in nature and include integrity, dignity, empathy, good boundaries, and knowledge of ethics in the helping professions.

Ethical aspects of PPNE touch on legal issues that are associated with a professional scope of practice. …

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