Applied ethics in transpersonal and humanistic research.

There are characteristics unique to humanistic and transpersonal research that challenge the conventional application of ethics. These include the integrated role of the researcher, a specialized methodology set, and the unpredictable open-ended nature of the research that includes a wide range of human experience, spirituality, and altered states of consciousness. These factors play out in the tension areas of informed consent, benefit and risk, and privacy and confidentiality. The informed consent process needs to adapt to a dynamic research process by continually checking in with the participant and avoiding coercion and undue influence through reflexive self-awareness by the researcher. Risk and benefit easily fall outside of the conventional paradigm because of the interventional nature of some transpersonal processes and the nuanced effect the research has on both participant and researcher. Privacy and confidentiality are closely linked to dynamic informed consent and rapport with the participant and appreciation of the intimate nature of data that could lead to deductive disclosure. The institutional review board (IRB) plays a critical role in ensuring ethical research but faces the challenge of including members with expertise in appropriate disciplines and flexibility in application of risk and benefit to specialized methodologies. There are 3 recommendations. First, researchers in humanistic and transpersonal disciplines need to dialogue among themselves. This will create awareness of inherent ethical challenges and clarity of how ethics can be applied in the field. Second, regulators and reviewers need to equip themselves with the nuances and challenges and be willing to explore new applications for new paradigms while maintaining high standards of participant protection. Third, there is a need for the development of a global code of ethics unique to transpersonal and humanistic research. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)