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Discuss the purposes of having a professional ethics code for practicing professional psychology.

The focus of this paper is to examine the professional responsibilities of psychologists while examining past contributions. Include the following components:

Appraise your familiarity with the psychological code of ethics. Which, if any, of your personal values do you see as potentially problematic to developing a professional and integrated style of ethics? Explain your rationale.

Discuss the purposes of having a professional ethics code for practicing professional psychology.

For additional details, please refer to the Short Paper Rubric document in the Assignment Guidelines and Rubrics section of the course.

 

Module Resources

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Textbook

Decoding the Ethics Code: A Practical Guide for Psychologists

Chapters 1 and 2

Article: The Milgram Experiment

This article explains the ethics associated with the famous Milgram experiment. This article will help you in completing this week’s discussion.

Article: Stanford Prison Experiment

This article graphically illustrates the particulars of the Stanford prison experiment, provides detailed accounts of the participants’ experiences, and demonstrates ethical violations in experimental psychology. This article will help you in completing this week’s discussion.

Short Paper: Ethics Overview

The focus of this paper is to examine the professional responsibilities of psychologists while examining past contributions. Include the following components:

Appraise your familiarity with the psychological code of ethics. Which, if any, of your personal values do you see as potentially problematic to developing a professional and integrated style of ethics? Explain your rationale.

Discuss the purposes of having a professional ethics code for practicing professional psychology.

For additional details, please refer to the Short Paper Rubric document in the Assignment Guidelines and Rubrics section of the course.

 

 

 

Ethics Overview Paper

NAME HERE

PSY-570 Ethical Practice in Psych

 

Like many other professional practices, there is a strict code that psychologists must abide by. The organization that is responsible for creating the ethics code for psychologists is the American Psychological Association, otherwise known as the APA. The APA first created the ethics code over five decades ago and since then has been making revisions to the original ethics code in order to accurately reflect the aspirations and practical aspects of ethical decisions made by APA members (Fisher, 2013, p. 2). There were four main reasons that the creation of an ethics code was necessary. Firstly, an ethics code establishes the integrity of the profession. When an entire professional community agrees on a code, it enhances the integrity. The second reason is Education and Professional Socialization. This means that the ethics code serves as a reflection of psychologists’ beliefs and guides them how to act. The third reason is that an ethics code demonstrates responsibility and this will allow the profession to gain public trust (Fisher, 2013, p. 6).  The last reason is that if there is an ethics code, then it is clear what is acceptable and therefore the code can be enforced (Fisher, 2013, p. 7).

This code is not limited to certain types of psychologists. If you are an APA member or a student affiliated with a psychologist, you are committed to maintaining the ethical standards set by the ethics code (Fisher, 2013, p. 16). The ethics code does not only apply to all persons, but all activities, settings and communications that a psychologist is involved in. It is important to note that the ethics code only applies to psychologists’ activities that are part of their professional work. However, this does not mean that in their private lives psychologists are free to behave in an unethical manner. If an APA member commits a felony, then the APA may take action against the member (Fisher, 2013, p. 16). An ethical complaint can be filed to the Ethics Committee by a non-member, an APA member or filed by the committee. If the complaint isn’t dismissed, the committee can recommend one of four actions be taken. The four actions are reprimand, censure, expulsion or stipulated resignation (Fisher, 2013, p. 21).  A complaint is unlikely to be brought against a psychologist if they follow the APA ethics code. The moral values of the ethics code can be generalized in five principles. These principles however, are not the specific rules of conduct, but are viewed more as goals that psychologists should aspire to reach in order to be as ethical as possible (Fisher, 2013, p. 25).

The first general principle is known as beneficence and nonmaleficence. This principal is meant to reflect the obligations that psychologist have to do good but also to avoid doing harm. The ethics code incorporates the desire to do good  in “Standards 2.02, Providing Services in Emergencies; 3.09, Cooperation With Other Professionals; 8.09, Humane Care and Use of Animals in Research; and 8.14, Sharing Research Data for Verifications.” These standards illustrate the wide range of good that psychologists strive to succeed whether it is by treating people, animals or increasing scientific knowledge. Standard 4.05, Disclosures is an illustration of how psychologists attempt to do no harm as well. This standard requires that disclosure of confidential information in order to prevent harm takes precedent over an individual’s right to privacy (Fisher, 2013, p. 25).

The second principle is Fidelity and Responsibility. This principle is meant to reflect trust between the psychologists and client/patient/etc, while responsibility to meant to illustrate the need that psychologists avoid conflicts of interest that would damage this trust. This principle is illustrated in Ethical Standards 3.05, Multiple Relationships; 3.06, Conflict of Interest; and 3.09, Cooperation with Other Professionals. (Fisher, 2013, p. 26).  The third principle is integrity. In order to maintain integrity, psychologists must be honest in their communications, keep promises, accurately research, teach and practice psychology and avoid misrepresentation. Psychologists should also not behave immorally through actions of theft, cheating or by engaging in actions of fraud. The third principle is reflected in Standards 5.01, Avoidance of False or Deceptive Statements; 6.04, Fees and Financial Arrangements; and 8.10, Reporting Research Results (Fisher, 2013, p. 26).

The fourth major principle that the APA Ethics Code attempts to embody, is justice. This principle calls for psychologists to provide everyone with fairness and equal opportunity whether it is to treatment or to benefits from their scientific knowledge. Psychologists must also put aside their own personal biases that may lead them to behave in an unethical manner. This principle is reflected in Standards 1.08, Unfair Discrimination Against Complainants and Respondents; 3.01, Unfair Discrimination; 3.02, Sexual Harassment; 7.06, Assessing Student and Supervisee Performance; 8.04, Client/Patient, Student and Subordinate Research Participants; 9.01, Bases for Assessments (Fisher, 2013, p. 27).

The fifth and final major principle is Respect for People’s Rights and Dignity. This principle says that psychologists must respect all people and their rights. Standards that involve rules related to informed consent, assessment and therapy take this principle into account (Fisher, 2013, p. 27).

The APA Ethics Code has been very successful since its inception. The code has provided a strict set of standards that psychologists must abide by and the majority of psychologists follow this code. There have been notable cases and events that have influenced the current APA ethics code.

One major study that heavily influenced the APA ethics code was the Milgram obedience experiment. The Milgram obedience study was an experiment conducted in the 1960’s to test obedience to a person in a position of authority. However, the participants were told it was a study about memory. When the participants arrived, they we’re assigned to either act as the teacher or the learner. The learner was placed in a chair and had to give answers to a memory test that the teacher was administering. When the learner gave an incorrect answer, the teacher was forced to deliver an electric shock. As the experiment went on the learner gave more and more wrong answers and the electric shock increased. The learner was in fact not being shocked, but was instead part of the experiment and acted to be in pain. When a teacher didn’t want to continue the experimenter used prompts in order to convince him to carry on (Gibson, 2013). This experiment would be considered very unethical and not be allowed to be conducted today. This study violated at least three of the main principles that the ethics code attempts to abide by. This study inflicted psychological harm on the teacher; it used extreme levels of deception and violated the trust between a psychologist and participant.

A more recent issue that led to a direct revision and publication of the 2010 Ethics Code was a ruling by the Department of Justice during the latest Bush administration that said the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” were acceptable in certain situations. This became an issue because psychologists often participate in interrogation and the original wording of Ethical Standards 1.02 and 1.03 allowed some to think it may be okay to violate human rights in order to abide with law enforcement. The APA put an end to this controversy by revising these two ethical standards (APA, 2010).

Despite having a strict code of ethics, a psychologist must still compare his personal values to the values they must follow based on the ethical guidelines. While personally, I don’t see any contradictions between my personal values and the ethical standards that would make developing a professional style with integrated ethics a problem; I understand that it could be an issue for some. These issues could arise from personal or religious beliefs or even the situation you have been placed in. However, no matter what it is important for members of the APA and those affiliated with the organization maintain the standards set forth in the ethics code.

 

References

 

American Psychological Association. (2010).  American psychological association amends ethics code to address potential conflicts among professional ethics, legal authority and organizational demands. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2010/02/ethics-code.aspx

Fisher, C.B., (2013). Decoding the ethics code: A practical guide for psychologists (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Gibson, S. (2013). Milgram’s obedience experiments: A rhetorical analysis. British Journal of Social Psychology52(2), 290-309. doi:10.1111/j.2044-8309.2011.02070.x

 

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