Ethical Guidelines in Psychology

This Information comes from the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. You can find a copy of it on both the Amercian Psychological Association and Canadian Psychological Association websites.  According to the EPPP Study Guide the topic of Ethical Guidelines in Psychology is weighted the heaviest of all 8 domains.  I highly recommend you follow the link above and read the code of ethics.

Below is simply a summary of the introduction and preamble portion of the code of ethics.  I’ve included them in their own post to show how these 2 sections are important on their own, and there could be test questions directly related to these 2 headings.  Some people tend to skim over these 2 sections, but remember 15% of your questions will be on ethics and so it is important to fully and completely understand all aspects of the code of ethics. The information is best used in collaboration with your own knowledge and what you have already been taught, your previous notes or textbooks, and research if you need more information on a particular topic. Or check out the product reviews page.

Introduction & Applicability

The code of ethics  has an introduction, preamble, 5 general principles, and 10 ethical standards.  The principles are basically goals for psychologists to aspire towards.  They are broad and generate great discussion, but sometimes can feel a little grey.  The 5 principles are not enforceable, they are more a guideline toward a professional ideal. The 10 standards on the other hand are enforceable.  They are specific rules and if not followed can result in a fine or having your license revoked.  This is what separates psychologists from others in similar industries.  The code of ethics does specify that these standards are only enforceable in the professional practices of the psychologists, and do not apply to the actions in the psychologists personal and private life.  Professional practice includes all activities, not just those delivered in person but also over the phone, through mail, or electronic means.

Understanding these standards fully and completely is important for all members (including student members).  If Ethical Guidelines in Psychologysomeone has an ethical complaint filed against them, claiming they did not understand the ethical standards is not an adequate defense.   If  the ethical standards are violated, the punishment could include a monetary fine, membership termination or even revoking the psychologists license.  The specifics depend on the state/provincial or federal board the psychologist is licensed to.

An important note about civil liability, a violation of the code of ethics does not necessarily mean the psychologist can be considered by a court to be legally liable.  A civil lawsuit is possible if there is proof that the therapist has somehow caused damage to the patient, or neglected to perform their necessary duties.

It is highly recommended that when making ethical decisions individuals consult the ethical code, individual licensing boards, any local laws that may be applicable, and any other boards that may be involved.  Consulting with colleagues or supervisors is also a very important part of the process.  If there is a conflict between the ethical standard and the law the psychologist must “make known their commitment to the ethics code and take steps to resolve the conflict in a responsible manner.”

Preamble

This is basically the reason why the code of ethics exists, which is basically to protect those we work with and enhance the field of psychology.  A few important points are:

  • Increase scientific and professional knowledge.
  • Respect and Protect civil and human rights.
  • Help the public make informed judgement.
  • Its intended to be specific enough to cover most situations.
  • Ethical standards require a lifelong effort and commitment.
  • It is a duty to encourage students, supervisors, employees and colleagues to act ethically as well.

You may find the information on this site is not enough to help you feel confident about your ability to pass the exam, That is OK and only you can be the judge of what you need. If this information seems overwhelming to you it does NOT mean you will fail the exam, but you may require a little more in depth material than is offered here That is why there is a Product Reviews page which will give you a variety of additional options, as well as practice exam questions which I highly recommend as explained on the Study Tips page.

***LEAVE A COMMENT DESCRIBING HOW YOU INTERPRET THE INTRODUCTION AND PREAMBLE.  ANY STUDY TIPS, TRICKS, OR TOOLS YOU HAVE TO MEMORIZE THIS INFORMATION WHILE YOU HAVE BEEN STUDYING?  ANY EXAMPLES OF HOW YOU HAVE RELATED THIS INFORMATION TO YOUR OWN PRACTICE?

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