ETHICAL PRINCIPLES OF PSYCHOLOGISTS AND CODE OF CONDUCT

ETHICAL PRINCIPLES OF PSYCHOLOGISTS AND CODE OF CONDUCT

INTRODUCTION AND APPLICABILITY The American Psychological Association’s (APA’s)

Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (hereinafter referred to as the Ethics Code) consists of an Introduction, a Preamble, five General Principles (A-E), and specific Ethical Standards. The Introduction discusses the intent, organization, procedural considerations, and scope of application of the Ethics Code. The Preamble and General Principles are aspirational goals to guide psycholo- gists toward the highest ideals of psychology. Although the Preamble and General Principles are not themselves en- forceable rules, they should be considered by psychologists in arriving at an ethical course of action. The Ethical Stan- dards set forth enforceable rules for conduct as psycholo- gists. Most of the Ethical Standards are written broadly, in order to apply to psychologists in varied roles, although the application of an Ethical Standard may vary depending on the context. The Ethical Standards are not exhaustive. The fact that a given conduct is not specifically addressed by an Ethical Standard does not mean that it is necessarily either ethical or unethical.

This Ethics Code applies only to psychologists’ ac- tivities that are part of their scientific, educational, or profes- sional roles as psychologists. Areas covered include but are not limited to the clinical, counseling, and school practice of psychology; research; teaching; supervision of trainees; public service; policy development; social intervention; development of assessment instruments; conducting as- sessments; educational counseling; organizational consult- ing; forensic activities; program design and evaluation; and administration. This Ethics Code applies to these activities across a variety of contexts, such as in person, postal, tele- phone, Internet, and other electronic transmissions. These activities shall be distinguished from the purely private con- duct of psychologists, which is not within the purview of the Ethics Code.

Membership in the APA commits members and stu- dent affiliates to comply with the standards of the APA Ethics Code and to the rules and procedures used to enforce them. Lack of awareness or misunderstanding of an Ethical Stan- dard is not itself a defense to a charge of unethical conduct.

The procedures for filing, investigating, and resolving complaints of unethical conduct are described in the current Rules and Procedures of the APA Ethics Committee. APA may impose sanctions on its members for violations of the standards of the Ethics Code, including termination of APA membership, and may notify other bodies and individuals of its actions. Actions that violate the standards of the Ethics Code may also lead to the imposition of sanctions on psy- chologists or students whether or not they are APA mem- bers by bodies other than APA, including state psychological associations, other professional groups, psychology boards, other state or federal agencies, and payors for health services.

In addition, APA may take action against a member after his or her conviction of a felony, expulsion or suspension from an affiliated state psychological association, or suspension or loss of licensure. When the sanction to be imposed by APA is less than expulsion, the 2001 Rules and Procedures do not guarantee an opportunity for an in-person hearing, but gen- erally provide that complaints will be resolved only on the basis of a submitted record.

The Ethics Code is intended to provide guidance for psychologists and standards of professional conduct that can be applied by the APA and by other bodies that choose to adopt them. The Ethics Code is not intended to be a basis of civil liability. Whether a psychologist has violated the Eth- ics Code standards does not by itself determine whether the psychologist is legally liable in a court action, whether a contract is enforceable, or whether other legal consequences occur.

2 Introduction and Applicability Effective January 1, 2017

The American Psychological Association’s Council of Representatives ad- opted this version of the APA Ethics Code during its meeting on August 21, 2002. The Code became effective on June 1, 2003. The Council of Represen- tatives amended this version of the Ethics Code on February 20, 2010, effec- tive June 1, 2010, and on August 3, 2016, effective January 1, 2017. (see p. 16 of this pamphlet). Inquiries concerning the substance or interpretation of the APA Ethics Code should be addressed to the Office of Ethics, American Psychological Association, 750 First St. NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242. This Ethics Code and information regarding the Code can be found on the APA website, http://www.apa.org/ethics. The standards in this Ethics Code will be used to adjudicate complaints brought concerning alleged conduct occurring on or after the effective date. Complaints will be adjudicated on the basis of the version of the Ethics Code that was in effect at the time the conduct occurred.

The APA has previously published its Ethics Code, or amendments there- to, as follows:

American Psychological Association. (1953). Ethical standards of psycholo- gists. Washington, DC: Author.

American Psychological Association. (1959). Ethical standards of psycholo- gists. American Psychologist, 14, 279-282.

American Psychological Association. (1963). Ethical standards of psycholo- gists. American Psychologist, 18, 56-60.

American Psychological Association. (1968). Ethical standards of psycholo- gists. American Psychologist, 23, 357-361.

American Psychological Association. (1977, March). Ethical standards of psychologists. APA Monitor, 22-23.

American Psychological Association. (1979). Ethical standards of psycholo- gists. Washington, DC: Author.

American Psychological Association. (1981). Ethical principles of psycholo- gists. American Psychologist, 36, 633-638.

American Psychological Association. (1990). Ethical principles of psycholo- gists (Amended June 2, 1989). American Psychologist, 45, 390-395.

American Psychological Association. (1992). Ethical principles of psycholo- gists and code of conduct. American Psychologist, 47, 1597-1611.

American Psychological Association. (2002). Ethical principles of psycholo- gists and code of conduct. American Psychologist, 57, 1060-1073.

American Psychological Association. (2010). 2010 amendments to the 2002 “Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct.” American Psycholo- gist, 65, 493.

American Psychological Association. (2016). Revision of ethical standard 3.04 of the “Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct” (2002, as amended 2010). American Psychologist, 71, 900. Request copies of the APA’s Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code

of Conduct from the APA Order Department, 750 First St. NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242, or phone (202) 336-5510.

 

 

The modifiers used in some of the standards of this Ethics Code (e.g., reasonably, appropriate, potentially) are in- cluded in the standards when they would (1) allow profes- sional judgment on the part of psychologists, (2) eliminate injustice or inequality that would occur without the modi- fier, (3) ensure applicability across the broad range of ac- tivities conducted by psychologists, or (4) guard against a set of rigid rules that might be quickly outdated. As used in this Ethics Code, the term reasonable means the prevailing professional judgment of psychologists engaged in similar activities in similar circumstances, given the knowledge the psychologist had or should have had at the time.

In the process of making decisions regarding their professional behavior, psychologists must consider this Ethics Code in addition to applicable laws and psychol- ogy board regulations. In applying the Ethics Code to their professional work, psychologists may consider other ma- terials and guidelines that have been adopted or endorsed by scientific and professional psychological organizations and the dictates of their own conscience, as well as consult with others within the field. If this Ethics Code establishes a higher standard of conduct than is required by law, psy- chologists must meet the higher ethical standard. If psy- chologists’ ethical responsibilities conflict with law, regu- lations, or other governing legal authority, psychologists make known their commitment to this Ethics Code and take steps to resolve the conflict in a responsible manner in keeping with basic principles of human rights.

PREAMBLE Psychologists are committed to increasing scientific

and professional knowledge of behavior and people’s un- derstanding of themselves and others and to the use of such knowledge to improve the condition of individuals, organi- zations, and society. Psychologists respect and protect civil and human rights and the central importance of freedom of inquiry and expression in research, teaching, and publica- tion. They strive to help the public in developing informed judgments and choices concerning human behavior. In do- ing so, they perform many roles, such as researcher, edu- cator, diagnostician, therapist, supervisor, consultant, ad- ministrator, social interventionist, and expert witness. This Ethics Code provides a common set of principles and stan- dards upon which psychologists build their professional and scientific work.

This Ethics Code is intended to provide specific standards to cover most situations encountered by psy- chologists. It has as its goals the welfare and protection of the individuals and groups with whom psychologists work and the education of members, students, and the public re- garding ethical standards of the discipline.

The development of a dynamic set of ethical stan- dards for psychologists’ work-related conduct requires a

personal commitment and lifelong effort to act ethically; to encourage ethical behavior by students, supervisees, employees, and colleagues; and to consult with others con- cerning ethical problems.

GENERAL PRINCIPLES This section consists of General Principles. General

Principles, as opposed to Ethical Standards, are aspiration- al in nature. Their intent is to guide and inspire psycholo- gists toward the very highest ethical ideals of the profes- sion. General Principles, in contrast to Ethical Standards, do not represent obligations and should not form the basis for imposing sanctions. Relying upon General Principles for either of these reasons distorts both their meaning and purpose.

Principle A: Beneficence and Nonmaleficence Psychologists strive to benefit those with whom

they work and take care to do no harm. In their profession- al actions, psychologists seek to safeguard the welfare and rights of those with whom they interact professionally and other affected persons, and the welfare of animal subjects of research. When conflicts occur among psychologists’ obli- gations or concerns, they attempt to resolve these conflicts in a responsible fashion that avoids or minimizes harm. Be- cause psychologists’ scientific and professional judgments and actions may affect the lives of others, they are alert to and guard against personal, financial, social, organizational, or political factors that might lead to misuse of their influ- ence. Psychologists strive to be aware of the possible effect of their own physical and mental health on their ability to help those with whom they work.

Principle B: fidelity and Responsibility Psychologists establish relationships of trust with

those with whom they work. They are aware of their pro- fessional and scientific responsibilities to society and to the specific communities in which they work. Psychologists uphold professional standards of conduct, clarify their pro- fessional roles and obligations, accept appropriate respon- sibility for their behavior, and seek to manage conflicts of interest that could lead to exploitation or harm. Psycholo- gists consult with, refer to, or cooperate with other profes- sionals and institutions to the extent needed to serve the best interests of those with whom they work. They are con- cerned about the ethical compliance of their colleagues’ scientific and professional conduct. Psychologists strive to contribute a portion of their professional time for little or no compensation or personal advantage.

Principle C: Integrity Psychologists seek to promote accuracy, honesty,

and truthfulness in the science, teaching, and practice of

Effective January 1, 2017 Preamble–Principle C 3

 

 

4 Principle D–Standard 1.06 Effective January 1, 2017

psychology. In these activities psychologists do not steal, cheat, or engage in fraud, subterfuge, or intentional mis- representation of fact. Psychologists strive to keep their promises and to avoid unwise or unclear commitments. In situations in which deception may be ethically justifiable to maximize benefits and minimize harm, psychologists have a serious obligation to consider the need for, the possible consequences of, and their responsibility to correct any re- sulting mistrust or other harmful effects that arise from the use of such techniques.

Principle D: Justice Psychologists recognize that fairness and justice

entitle all persons to access to and benefit from the con- tributions of psychology and to equal quality in the pro- cesses, procedures, and services being conducted by psy- chologists. Psychologists exercise reasonable judgment and take precautions to ensure that their potential biases, the boundaries of their competence, and the limitations of their expertise do not lead to or condone unjust practices.

Principle E: Respect for People’s Rights and Dignity

Psychologists respect the dignity and worth of all people, and the rights of individuals to privacy, confiden- tiality, and self-determination. Psychologists are aware that special safeguards may be necessary to protect the rights and welfare of persons or communities whose vulnerabili- ties impair autonomous decision making. Psychologists are aware of and respect cultural, individual, and role differ- ences, including those based on age, gender, gender iden- tity, race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, language, and socioeconomic status, and consider these factors when working with members of such groups. Psychologists try to eliminate the effect on their work of biases based on those factors, and they do not knowingly participate in or condone activities of others based upon such prejudices.

ETHICAL STANDARDS 1. Resolving Ethical Issues

1.01 Misuse of Psychologists’ Work If psychologists learn of misuse or misrepresenta-

tion of their work, they take reasonable steps to correct or minimize the misuse or misrepresentation.

1.02 Conflicts Between Ethics and Law, Regulations, or Other Governing Legal Authority If psychologists’ ethical responsibilities conflict

with law, regulations, or other governing legal authority, psychologists clarify the nature of the conflict, make known their commitment to the Ethics Code, and take reasonable

steps to resolve the conflict consistent with the General Principles and Ethical Standards of the Ethics Code. Under no circumstances may this standard be used to justify or defend violating human rights.

1.03 Conflicts Between Ethics and Organizational Demands If the demands of an organization with which psy-

chologists are affiliated or for whom they are working are in conflict with this Ethics Code, psychologists clarify the nature of the conflict, make known their commitment to the Ethics Code, and take reasonable steps to resolve the con- flict consistent with the General Principles and Ethical Stan- dards of the Ethics Code. Under no circumstances may this standard be used to justify or defend violating human rights.

1.04 Informal Resolution of Ethical Violations When psychologists believe that there may have

been an ethical violation by another psychologist, they at- tempt to resolve the issue by bringing it to the attention of that individual, if an informal resolution appears appropri- ate and the intervention does not violate any confidential- ity rights that may be involved. (See also Standards 1.02, Conflicts Between Ethics and Law, Regulations, or Other Governing Legal Authority, and 1.03, Conflicts Between Ethics and Organizational Demands.)

1.05 Reporting Ethical Violations If an apparent ethical violation has substantially

harmed or is likely to substantially harm a person or organi- zation and is not appropriate for informal resolution under Standard 1.04, Informal Resolution of Ethical Violations, or is not resolved properly in that fashion, psychologists take further action appropriate to the situation. Such ac- tion might include referral to state or national committees on professional ethics, to state licensing boards, or to the appropriate institutional authorities. This standard does not apply when an intervention would violate confidential- ity rights or when psychologists have been retained to re- view the work of another psychologist whose professional conduct is in question. (See also Standard 1.02, Conflicts Between Ethics and Law, Regulations, or Other Governing Legal Authority.)

1.06 Cooperating with Ethics Committees Psychologists cooperate in ethics investigations,

proceedings, and resulting requirements of the APA or any affiliated state psychological association to which they be- long. In doing so, they address any confidentiality issues. Failure to cooperate is itself an ethics violation. However, making a request for deferment of adjudication of an eth- ics complaint pending the outcome of litigation does not alone constitute noncooperation.

 

 

Effective January 1, 2017 Standard 1.07–Standard 2.06 5

1.07 Improper Complaints Psychologists do not file or encourage the filing of

ethics complaints that are made with reckless disregard for or willful ignorance of facts that would disprove the allegation.

1.08 Unfair Discrimination Against Complainants and Respondents Psychologists do not deny persons employment,

advancement, admissions to academic or other programs, tenure, or promotion, based solely upon their having made or their being the subject of an ethics complaint. This does not preclude taking action based upon the outcome of such proceedings or considering other appropriate information.

2. Competence

2.01 Boundaries of Competence (a) Psychologists provide services, teach, and con-

duct research with populations and in areas only within the boundaries of their competence, based on their education, training, supervised experience, consultation, study, or professional experience.

(b) Where scientific or professional knowledge in the discipline of psychology establishes that an understand- ing of factors associated with age, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, religion, sexual ori- entation, disability, language, or socioeconomic status is essential for effective implementation of their services or research, psychologists have or obtain the training, experi- ence, consultation, or supervision necessary to ensure the competence of their services, or they make appropriate re- ferrals, except as provided in Standard 2.02, Providing Ser- vices in Emergencies.

(c) Psychologists planning to provide services, teach, or conduct research involving populations, areas, techniques, or technologies new to them undertake rel- evant education, training, supervised experience, consulta- tion, or study.

(d) When psychologists are asked to provide servic- es to individuals for whom appropriate mental health ser- vices are not available and for which psychologists have not obtained the competence necessary, psychologists with closely related prior training or experience may provide such services in order to ensure that services are not denied if they make a reasonable effort to obtain the competence required by using relevant research, training, consultation, or study.

(e) In those emerging areas in which generally rec- ognized standards for preparatory training do not yet exist, psychologists nevertheless take reasonable steps to ensure the competence of their work and to protect clients/pa- tients, students, supervisees, research participants, organi- zational clients, and others from harm.

(f) When assuming forensic roles, psychologists are

or become reasonably familiar with the judicial or adminis- trative rules governing their roles.

2.02 Providing Services in Emergencies In emergencies, when psychologists provide ser-

vices to individuals for whom other mental health services are not available and for which psychologists have not ob- tained the necessary training, psychologists may provide such services in order to ensure that services are not denied. The services are discontinued as soon as the emergency has ended or appropriate services are available.

2.03 Maintaining Competence Psychologists undertake ongoing efforts to develop

and maintain their competence.

2.04 Bases for Scientific and Professional Judgments Psychologists’ work is based upon established scien-

tific and professional knowledge of the discipline. (See also Standards 2.01e, Boundaries of Competence, and 10.01b, Informed Consent to Therapy.)

2.05 Delegation of Work to Others Psychologists who delegate work to employees,

supervisees, or research or teaching assistants or who use the services of others, such as interpreters, take reasonable steps to (1) avoid delegating such work to persons who have a multiple relationship with those being served that would likely lead to exploitation or loss of objectivity; (2) authorize only those responsibilities that such persons can be expected to perform competently on the basis of their education, training, or experience, either independently or with the level of supervision being provided; and (3) see that such persons perform these services competently. (See also Standards 2.02, Providing Services in Emergencies; 3.05, Multiple Relationships; 4.01, Maintaining Confiden- tiality; 9.01, Bases for Assessments; 9.02, Use of Assess- ments; 9.03, Informed Consent in Assessments; and 9.07, Assessment by Unqualified Persons.)

2.06 Personal Problems and Conflicts (a) Psychologists refrain from initiating an activity

when they know or should know that there is a substantial likelihood that their personal problems will prevent them from performing their work-related activities in a compe- tent manner.

(b) When psychologists become aware of personal problems that may interfere with their performing work- related duties adequately, they take appropriate measures, such as obtaining professional consultation or assistance, and determine whether they should limit, suspend, or ter- minate their work-related duties. (See also Standard 10.10, Terminating Therapy.)

 

 

6 Standard 3.01–Standard 3.08 Effective January 1, 2017

3. Human Relations 3.01 Unfair Discrimination

In their work-related activities, psychologists do not engage in unfair discrimination based on age, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, re- ligion, sexual orientation, disability, socioeconomic status, or any basis proscribed by law.

3.02 Sexual Harassment Psychologists do not engage in sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment is sexual solicitation, physical advances, or verbal or nonverbal conduct that is sexual in nature, that occurs in connection with the psychologist’s activities or roles as a psychologist, and that either (1) is unwelcome, is offensive, or creates a hostile workplace or educational environment, and the psychologist knows or is told this or (2) is sufficiently severe or intense to be abusive to a rea- sonable person in the context. Sexual harassment can con- sist of a single intense or severe act or of multiple persistent or pervasive acts. (See also Standard 1.08, Unfair Discrimi- nation Against Complainants and Respondents.)

3.03 Other Harassment Psychologists do not knowingly engage in behavior

that is harassing or demeaning to persons with whom they interact in their work based on factors such as those per- sons’ age, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, lan- guage, or socioeconomic status.

3.04 Avoiding Harm (a) Psychologists take reasonable steps to avoid

harming their clients/patients, students, supervisees, re- search participants, organizational clients, and others with whom they work, and to minimize harm where it is foresee- able and unavoidable.

(b) Psychologists do not participate in, facilitate, as- sist, or otherwise engage in torture, defined as any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person, or in any other cruel, inhuman, or degrading behavior that violates 3.04a.

3.05 Multiple Relationships (a) A multiple relationship occurs when a psycholo-

gist is in a professional role with a person and (1) at the same time is in another role with the same person, (2) at the same time is in a relationship with a person closely as- sociated with or related to the person with whom the psy- chologist has the professional relationship, or (3) promises to enter into another relationship in the future with the person or a person closely associated with or related to the person.

A psychologist refrains from entering into a mul- tiple relationship if the multiple relationship could reason- ably be expected to impair the psychologist’s objectivity, competence, or effectiveness in performing his or her func- tions as a psychologist, or otherwise risks exploitation or harm to the person with whom the professional relation- ship exists.

Multiple relationships that would not reasonably be expected to cause impairment or risk exploitation or harm are not unethical.

(b) If a psychologist finds that, due to unforeseen factors, a potentially harmful multiple relationship has arisen, the psychologist takes reasonable steps to resolve it with due regard for the best interests of the affected person and maximal compliance with the Ethics Code.

(c) When psychologists are required by law, insti- tutional policy, or extraordinary circumstances to serve in more than one role in judicial or administrative proceed- ings, at the outset they clarify role expectations and the ex- tent of confidentiality and thereafter as changes occur. (See also Standards 3.04, Avoiding Harm, and 3.07, Third-Party Requests for Services.)

3.06 Conflict of Interest Psychologists refrain from taking on a professional

role when personal, scientific, professional, legal, financial, or other interests or relationships could reasonably be ex- pected to (1) impair their objectivity, competence, or ef- fectiveness in performing their functions as psychologists or (2) expose the person or organization with whom the professional relationship exists to harm or exploitation.

3.07 Third-Party Requests for Services When psychologists agree to provide services to a

person or entity at the request of a third party, psycholo- gists attempt to clarify at the outset of the service the na- ture of the relationship with all individuals or organizations involved. This clarification includes the role of the psychol- ogist (e.g., therapist, consultant, diagnostician, or expert witness), an identification of who is the client, the probable uses of the services provided or the information obtained, and the fact that there may be limits to confidentiality. (See also Standards 3.05, Multiple relationships, and 4.02, Dis- cussing the Limits of Confidentiality.)

3.08 Exploitative Relationships Psychologists do not exploit persons over whom

they have supervisory, evaluative or other authority such as clients/patients, students, supervisees, research partici- pants, and employees. (See also Standards 3.05, Multiple Relationships; 6.04, Fees and Financial Arrangements; 6.05, Barter with Clients/Patients; 7.07, Sexual Relation- ships with Students and Supervisees; 10.05, Sexual Intima-

 

 

Effective January 1, 2017 Standard 3.09–Standard 4.03 7

cies with Current Therapy Clients/Patients; 10.06, Sexual Intimacies with Relatives or Significant Others of Current Therapy Clients/Patients; 10.07, Therapy with Former Sexual Partners; and 10.08, Sexual Intimacies with Former Therapy Clients/Patients.)

3.09 Cooperation with Other Professionals When indicated and professionally appropriate,

psychologists cooperate with other professionals in order to serve their clients/patients effectively and appropriately. (See also Standard 4.05, Disclosures.)

3.10 Informed Consent (a) When psychologists conduct research or pro-

vide assessment, therapy, counseling, or consulting servic- es in person or via electronic transmission or other forms of communication, they obtain the informed consent of the individual or individuals using language that is reason- ably understandable to that person or persons except when conducting such activities without consent is mandated by law or governmental regulation or as otherwise provided in this Ethics Code. (See also Standards 8.02, Informed Con- sent to Research; 9.03, Informed Consent in Assessments; and 10.01, Informed Consent to Therapy.)

(b) For persons who are legally incapable of giving informed consent, psychologists nevertheless (1) provide an appropriate explanation, (2) seek the individual’s assent, (3) consider such persons’ preferences and best interests, and (4) obtain appropriate permission from a legally authorized person, if such substitute consent is permitted or required by law. When consent by a legally authorized person is not permitted or required by law, psychologists take reasonable steps to protect the individual’s rights and welfare.

(c) When psychological services are court ordered or otherwise mandated, psychologists inform the indi- vidual of the nature of the anticipated services, including whether the services are court ordered or mandated and any limits of confidentiality, before proceeding.

(d) Psychologists appropriately document written or oral consent, permission, and assent. (See also Stan- dards 8.02, Informed Consent to Research; 9.03, Informed Consent in Assessments; and 10.01, Informed Consent to Therapy.)

3.11 Psychological Services Delivered to or Through Organizations (a) Psychologists delivering services to or through

organizations provide information beforehand to clients and when appropriate those directly affected by the services about (1) the nature and objectives of the services, (2) the intended recipients, (3) which of the individuals are clients, (4) the relationship the psychologist will have with each per- son and the organization, (5) the probable uses of services

provided and information obtained, (6) who will have ac- cess to the information, and (7) limits of confidentiality. As soon as feasible, they provide information about the results and conclusions of such services to appropriate persons.

(b) If psychologists will be precluded by law or by organizational roles from providing such information to particular individuals or groups, they so inform those indi- viduals or groups at the outset of the service.

3.12 Interruption of Psychological Services Unless otherwise covered by contract, psycholo-

gists make reasonable efforts to plan for facilitating services in the event that psychological services are interrupted by factors such as the psychologist’s illness, death, unavailabil- ity, relocation, or retirement or by the client’s/patient’s re- location or financial limitations. (See also Standard 6.02c, Maintenance, Dissemination, and Disposal of Confidential Records of Professional and Scientific Work.)

4. Privacy and Confidentiality 4.01 Maintaining Confidentiality

Psychologists have a primary obligation and take reasonable precautions to protect confidential information obtained through or stored in any medium, recognizing that the extent and limits of confidentiality may be regu- lated by law or established by institutional rules or profes- sional or scientific relationship. (See also Standard 2.05, Delegation of Work to Others.)

4.02 Discussing the Limits of Confidentiality (a) Psychologists discuss with persons (including,

to the extent feasible, persons who are legally incapable of giving informed consent and their legal representatives) and organizations with whom they establish a scientific or professional relationship (1) the relevant limits of confi- dentiality and (2) the foreseeable uses of the information generated through their psychological activities. (See also Standard 3.10, Informed Consent.)

(b) Unless it is not feasible or is contraindicated, the discussion of confidentiality occurs at the outset of the rela- tionship and thereafter as new circumstances may warrant.

(c) Psychologists who offer services, products, or information via electronic transmission inform clients/pa- tients of the risks to privacy and limits of confidentiality.

4.03 Recording Before recording the voices or images of individuals

to whom they provide services, psychologists obtain per- mission from all such persons or their legal representatives. (See also Standards 8.03, Informed Consent for Recording Voices and Images in Research; 8.05, Dispensing with In- formed Consent for Research; and 8.07, Deception in Re- search.)

 

 

8 Standard 4.04–Standard 5.04 Effective January 1, 2017

4.04 Minimizing Intrusions on Privacy (a) Psychologists include in written and oral reports

and consultations, only information germane to the pur- pose for which the communication is made.

(b) Psychologists discuss confidential information obtained in their work only for appropriate scientific or professional purposes and only with persons clearly con- cerned with such matters.

4.05 Disclosures (a) Psychologists may disclose confidential infor-

mation with the appropriate consent of the organizational client, the individual client/patient, or another legally au- thorized person on behalf of the client/patient unless pro- hibited by law.

(b) Psychologists disclose confidential information without the consent of the individual only as mandated by law, or where permitted by law for a valid purpose such as to (1) provide needed professional services; (2) obtain appropriate professional consultations; (3) protect the cli- ent/patient, psychologist, or others from harm; or (4) ob- tain payment for services from a client/patient, in which instance disclosure is limited to the minimum that is neces- sary to achieve the purpose. (See also Standard 6.04e, Fees and Financial Arrangements.)

4.06 Consultations When consulting with colleagues, (1) psychologists

do not disclose confidential information that reasonably could lead to the identification of a client/patient, research participant, or other person or organization with whom they have a confidential relationship unless they have ob- tained the prior consent of the person or organization or the disclosure cannot be avoided, and (2) they disclose in- formation only to the extent necessary to achieve the pur- poses of the consultation. (See also Standard 4.01, Main- taining Confidentiality.)

4.07 Use of Confidential Information for Didactic or Other Purposes Psychologists do not disclose in their writings, lec-

tures, or other public media, confidential, personally iden- tifiable information concerning their clients/patients, stu- dents, research participants, organizational clients, or other recipients of their services that they obtained during the course of their work, unless (1) they take reasonable steps to disguise the person or organization, (2) the person or organization has consented in writing, or (3) there is legal authorization for doing so.

5. Advertising and Other Public Statements 5.01 Avoidance of false or Deceptive Statements

(a) Public statements include but are not limited to paid or unpaid advertising, product endorsements, grant applications, licensing applications, other credentialing applications, brochures, printed matter, directory listings, personal resumes or curricula vitae, or comments for use in media such as print or electronic transmission, statements in legal proceedings, lectures and public oral presentations, and published materials. Psychologists do not knowingly make public statements that are false, deceptive, or fraud- ulent concerning their research, practice, or other work activities or those of persons or organizations with which they are affiliated.

(b) Psychologists do not make false, deceptive, or fraudulent statements concerning (1) their training, ex- perience, or competence; (2) their academic degrees; (3) their credentials; (4) their institutional or association affili- ations; (5) their services; (6) the scientific or clinical ba- sis for, or results or degree of success of, their services; (7) their fees; or (8) their publications or research findings.

(c) Psychologists claim degrees as credentials for their health services only if those degrees (1) were earned from a regionally accredited educational institution or (2) were the basis for psychology licensure by the state in which they practice.

5.02 Statements by Others (a) Psychologists who engage others to create or

place public statements that promote their professional practice, products, or activities retain professional respon- sibility for such statements.

(b) Psychologists do not compensate employees of press, radio, television, or other communication media in return for publicity in a news item. (See also Standard 1.01, Misuse of Psychologists’ Work.)

(c) A paid advertisement relating to psychologists’ activities must be identified or clearly recognizable as such.

5.03 Descriptions of Workshops and Non-Degree-Granting Educational Programs To the degree to which they exercise control, psy-

chologists responsible for announcements, catalogs, bro- chures, or advertisements describing workshops, seminars, or other non-degree-granting educational programs ensure that they accurately describe the audience for which the program is intended, the educational objectives, the pre- senters, and the fees involved.

5.04 Media Presentations When psychologists provide public advice or com-

ment via print, Internet, or other electronic transmission,

 

 

Effective January 1, 2017 Standard 5.05–Standard 6.06 9

they take precautions to ensure that statements (1) are based on their professional knowledge, training, or expe- rience in accord with appropriate psychological literature and practice; (2) are otherwise consistent with this Ethics Code; and (3) do not indicate that a professional relation- ship has been established with the recipient. (See also Stan- dard 2.04, Bases for Scientific and Professional Judgments.)

5.05 Testimonials Psychologists do not solicit testimonials from cur-

rent therapy clients/patients or other persons who because of their particular circumstances are vulnerable to undue influence.

5.06 In-Person Solicitation Psychologists do not engage, directly or through

agents, in uninvited in-person solicitation of business from actual or potential therapy clients/patients or other per- sons who because of their particular circumstances are vul- nerable to undue influence. However, this prohibition does not preclude (1) attempting to implement appropriate collateral contacts for the purpose of benefiting an already engaged therapy client/patient or (2) providing disaster or community outreach services.

6. Record Keeping and fees 6.01 Documentation of Professional and Scientific

Work and Maintenance of Records Psychologists create, and to the extent the records

are under their control, maintain, disseminate, store, retain, and dispose of records and data relating to their profession- al and scientific work in order to (1) facilitate provision of services later by them or by other professionals, (2) allow for replication of research design and analyses, (3) meet in- stitutional requirements, (4) ensure accuracy of billing and payments, and (5) ensure compliance with law. (See also Standard 4.01, Maintaining Confidentiality.)

6.02 Maintenance, Dissemination, and Disposal of Confidential Records of Professional and Scientific Work (a) Psychologists maintain confidentiality in creat-

ing, storing, accessing, transferring, and disposing of records under their control, whether these are written, automated, or in any other medium. (See also Standards 4.01, Maintaining Confidentiality, and 6.01, Documentation of Professional and Scientific Work and Maintenance of Records.)

(b) If confidential information concerning recipi- ents of psychological services is entered into databases or systems of records available to persons whose access has not been consented to by the recipient, psychologists use coding or other techniques to avoid the inclusion of per- sonal identifiers.

(c) Psychologists make plans in advance to facilitate the appropriate transfer and to protect the confidentiality of records and data in the event of psychologists’ withdraw- al from positions or practice. (See also Standards 3.12, In- terruption of Psychological Services, and 10.09, Interrup- tion of Therapy.)

6.03 Withholding Records for Nonpayment Psychologists may not withhold records under

their control that are requested and needed for a client’s/ patient’s emergency treatment solely because payment has not been received.

6.04 fees and financial Arrangements (a) As early as is feasible in a professional or scientif-

ic relationship, psychologists and recipients of psychologi- cal services reach an agreement specifying compensation and billing arrangements.

(b) Psychologists’ fee practices are consistent with law. (c) Psychologists do not misrepresent their fees. (d) If limitations to services can be anticipated be-

cause of limitations in financing, this is discussed with the recipient of services as early as is feasible. (See also Stan- dards 10.09, Interruption of Therapy, and 10.10, Terminat- ing Therapy.)

(e) If the recipient of services does not pay for ser- vices as agreed, and if psychologists intend to use collection agencies or legal measures to collect the fees, psychologists first inform the person that such measures will be taken and provide that person an opportunity to make prompt pay- ment. (See also Standards 4.05, Disclosures; 6.03, With- holding Records for Nonpayment; and 10.01, Informed Consent to Therapy.)

6.05 Barter with Clients/Patients Barter is the acceptance of goods, services, or other

nonmonetary remuneration from clients/patients in return for psychological services. Psychologists may barter only if (1) it is not clinically contraindicated, and (2) the resulting arrangement is not exploitative. (See also Standards 3.05, Multiple Relationships, and 6.04, Fees and Financial Ar- rangements.)

6.06 Accuracy in Reports to Payors and funding Sources In their reports to payors for services or sources of

research funding, psychologists take reasonable steps to ensure the accurate reporting of the nature of the service provided or research conducted, the fees, charges, or pay- ments, and where applicable, the identity of the provider, the findings, and the diagnosis. (See also Standards 4.01, Maintaining Confidentiality; 4.04, Minimizing Intrusions on Privacy; and 4.05, Disclosures.)

 

 

10 Standard 6.07–Standard 8.02 Effective January 1, 2017

6.07 Referrals and fees When psychologists pay, receive payment from, or

divide fees with another professional, other than in an em- ployer-employee relationship, the payment to each is based on the services provided (clinical, consultative, administra- tive, or other) and is not based on the referral itself. (See also Standard 3.09, Cooperation with Other Profession- als.)

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