Summer University in Social Work 

Ethical Issues in Helping Chinese Families of Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Multiple Family Group Therapy

Prof. Joyce L. C. Ma — Chinese University of Hong Kong

In the belief that ethical practice is fundamental in our profession, this presentation will be focused on discussing key ethical issues that social workers need to take into account of in helping in Chinese societies. Our research team has launched a three-year cross-disciplinary multiple family group therapy (MFGT) project to help Chinese families who are facing the common developmental challenges of raising school-age children suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A total of 11 groups had been run. After joining the group, these parents had become more positive in perceiving the children’s symptoms; their level of perceived social support was increased. The process of group intervention was a process of social construction among the participating families, and between the families and the group leaders. Two recurrent themes kept emerging in the group process: (a) artful applications of ethical issues namely confidentiality, non-judgement attitude and doing no-harm principles in different group contexts; and (b) ethical dilemmas faced by the group leaders in the intervention process. There are four parts of my presentation: (a) social work ethics and social work practice in Chinese societies; (b) MFGT as an intervention model in helping Chinese families of children with ADHD; (c) artful applications of social work ethical principles in MFGT; and (d) ethical dilemmas in helping and ways of resolving.


Social work ethics; ethical dilemmas; Chinese families; children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; multiple family group therapy

  • McDonell, M. G. & Dyck, D. G. (2004). Multiple-family group treatment as an effective intervention for children with psychological disorders. Clinical Psychology Review, 24(6), 685-706.
  • Richard, L. M. (2013). It is time for a more integrated bio-psycho-social approach to ADHD. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 18(4), 483-503. Doi:10.1177/1359104512458228.
  • Scapillato, M. (2003). Use of multiple family group therapy in managing children’s ADHD. The ADHD Report, 11(3), 9-15.
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