Background: Ethical dilemmas are common in the field of mental health, and often,
ethical guidelines fail to provide clear courses of action. Historically, ethical decision-making
models have been proposed which utilize a position rationality and positivism. While these ethical
decision-making models have expanded over time to incorporate contextual factors, they often fail
to adequately integrate personal imperatives and remain flexible enough to be generalized across
settings and situations.
Method: The goal of the present article is to provide those in the field of mental health with a virtue-
driven ethical decision-making model that provides a balance between guided structure and
personalization with the intent of integrating personal and professional identities for use in confronting
Results: An ethical decision-making model is presented that incorporates virtues found to be relevant
to the field of mental health, characterized by six stages: observation, identification, consultation,
balance, action and reflection.
Conclusion: Ethical practice is heightened when professionals engage in synthesizing personal and
professional values in order to increase a personal ethical imperative, rather than a rule-based ethical
imperative, and when structured models are put in place for use when ethics codes fail or are
deemed not useful.