APS Code of Ethics (2007)

Organization: 

Australian Psychological Society

Source: 

APS Code of Ethics

Date Approved: 

September 27, 2007

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APS Code of Ethics

APS Code of Ethics

Preface

The Australian Psychological Society Limited (the Society) adopted this Code of Ethics (the Code) at its Forty-First Annual General Meeting held on 27 September 2007. This Code supersedes the Code of Ethics previously adopted at its Thirty-First Annual General Meeting held on 4 October 1997, and modified on 2 October 1999; on 29 September 2002; and on 4 October 2003.

The Code of Ethics is subject to periodic amendments, which will be communicated to members of the Society, and published on the Society website. Members must ensure that they are conversant with the current version of the Code. An electronic version of the Code is available atwww.psychology.org.au.

This Code may be cited as the Code of Ethics (2007) and a specific ethical standard should be referred to as “standard A.2. of the Code of Ethics (2007)”. Amended standards can be referred to as: standard A.2. of the Code of Ethics (2007) (as amended in …). In a reference list the Code can be referenced as:

Australian Psychological Society. (2007). Code of ethics. Melbourne, Vic:

Ethical Guidelines that accompany the Code of Ethics will be produced, amended and rescinded from time to time, and members are advised to ensure their versions of the Guidelines are current.

Psychologists seeking clarification or advice on the matters contained herein should write to the:
Executive Director
The Australian Psychological Society Limited
PO Box 38
Flinders Lane
Victoria 8009
Australia

Preamble

The Australian Psychological Society Code of Ethics articulates and promotes ethical principles, and sets specific standards to guide both psychologists and members of the public to a clear understanding and expectation of what is considered ethical professional conduct by psychologists.

It is important that the codes of professional associations should be reviewed regularly to ensure that they remain relevant and functional in the face of the evolution of the relevant association and changes in its environment. Accordingly, since its inception in 1949, the Code of Ethics (which was at times called the Code of Professional Conduct) of the Australian Psychological Society has been reviewed in 1960, 1968, 1986, and 1997. In undertaking the current review, the Society has attempted to reflect established ethical principles in the practice of the profession within the context of the current regulatory environment.

The current Code has been developed through a process of ongoing reflection within the Society about the ethical responsibilities of psychologists and a formal review of the 1997 Code with reference to comparable national and international professional codes of ethics. The Code is built on three general ethical principles. They are:

A. Respect for the rights and dignity of people and peoples
B. Propriety
C. Integrity

The general principle, Respect for the rights and dignity of people and peoples, combines the principles of respect for the dignity and respect for the rights of people and peoples, including the right to autonomy and
justice.

The general principle, Propriety, incorporates the principles of beneficence, non-maleficence (including competence) and responsibility to clients, the profession and society.

The general principle, Integrity, reflects the need for psychologists to have good character and acknowledges the high level of trust intrinsic to their professional relationships, and impact of their conduct on the reputation of the profession.

The Code expresses psychologists' responsibilities to their clients, to the community and society at large, and to the profession, as well as colleagues and members of other professions with whom they interact.

Each general principle is accompanied by an explanatory statement that helps psychologists and others understand how the principle is enacted in the form of specific standards of professional conduct.

The ethical standards (standards) derived from each general principle provide the minimum expectations with regard to psychologists' professional conduct, and conduct in their capacity as Members of the Society. Professional conduct that does not meet these standards is unethical and is subject to review in accordance with the Rules and Procedures of the Ethics Committee and the Ethics Appeals Committee contained in the Standing Orders of the Board of Directors of the Society. These standards are not exhaustive. Where specific conduct is not identified by the standards, the general principles will apply.

The Code is complemented by a series of Ethical Guidelines (the Guidelines). The purpose of the Guidelines is to clarify and amplify the application of the general principles and specific standards contained in the Code, and to facilitate their interpretation in contemporary areas of professional practice. The Guidelines are subsidiary to the relevant sections of the Code, and must be read and interpreted in conjunction with the Code. Psychologists who have acted inconsistently with the Guidelines may be required to demonstrate that their behaviour was not unethical.

Psychologists respect and act in accordance with the laws of the jurisdictions in which they practise. The Code should be interpreted with reference to these laws. The Code should also be interpreted with reference to, but not necessarily in deference to, any organisational rules and procedures to which psychologists may be subject.

Code of Ethics

Definitions*
For the purposes of this Code, unless the context indicates otherwise:

Associated party means any person or organisation other than clients with whom psychologistsinteract in the course of rendering a psychological service. This includes, but is not limited to:

  1. clients' relatives, friends, employees, employers, carers and guardians;
  2. other professionals or experts;
  3. representatives from communities or organisations.

Client means a party or parties to a psychological service involving teaching, supervision, research, and professional practice in psychology. Clients may be individuals, couples, dyads, families, groups of people, organisations, communities, facilitators, sponsors, or those commissioning or paying for the professional activity.

Code means this APS Code of Ethics (2007) as amended from time to time, and includes the definitions and interpretation, the application of the Code, all general principles, and the ethical standards.

Conduct means any act or omission by psychologists:

  1. that others may reasonably consider to be a psychological service;
  2. outside their practice of psychology which casts doubt on their competence and ability to practise as psychologists;
  3. outside their practice of psychology which harms public trust in the discipline or the profession of psychology;
  4. in their capacity as Members of the Society; as applicable in the circumstances.

Guidelines mean the Ethical Guidelines adopted by the Board of Directors of the Society from time to time that clarify and amplify the application of the Code of Ethics. The Guidelines are subsidiary to the Code, and must be read and interpreted in conjunction with the Code. In the case of any apparent inconsistency between the Code and the Guidelines, provisions of
the Code prevail. A psychologist acting inconsistently with the Guidelines may be required to demonstrate that his or her conduct was not unethical.

Jurisdiction means the Commonwealth of Australia or the state or territory in which apsychologist is rendering a psychological service.

Legal rights mean those rights protected under laws and statutes of the Commonwealth of Australia, or of the state or territory in which a psychologist is rendering a psychological service.

Member means a Member, of any grade, of the Society.

Moral rights incorporate universal human rights as defined by the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights that might or might not be fully protected by existing laws.

Multiple relationships occur when a psychologist, rendering a psychological service to a client, also is or has been:

  1. in a non-professional relationship with the same client;
  2. in a different professional relationship with the same client;
  3. in a non-professional relationship with an associated party; or
  4. a recipient of a service provided by the same client.

Peoples are defined as distinct human groups with their own social structures who are linked by a common identity, common customs, and collective interests.

Professional relationship or role is the relationship between a psychologist and a client which involves the delivery of a psychological service.

Psychological service means any service provided by a psychologist to a client including but not limited to professional activities, psychological activities, professional practice, teaching, supervision, research practice, professional services, and psychological procedures.

Psychologist means any Member irrespective of his or her psychologist registration status.

Society means The Australian Psychological Society Limited.

*Defined terms are designated in the Code by appearing in italics.

Interpretation
In this Code unless the contrary intention appears:

  1. words in the singular include the plural and words in the plural include the singular;
  2. where any word or phrase is given a defined meaning, any other form of that word or phrase has a corresponding meaning;
  3. headings are for convenience only and do not affect interpretation of the Code.

Application of the Code

This Code applies to the conduct of psychologists as defined above. Membership of the Society, irrespective of a Member's grade of membership or registration status, commits Members to comply with the ethical standards of the Code and the rules and procedures used to enforce them.

Members are reminded that there are legislative requirements that apply to the use of the professional title, “psychologist”, and that where applicable, they must abide by such requirements.

Members are also reminded that lack of awareness or misunderstanding of an ethical standard is not itself a defence to an allegation of unethical conduct.


General Principle A: Respect for the rights and dignity of people and peoples

Psychologists regard people as intrinsically valuable and respect their rights, including the right to autonomy and justice. Psychologists engage in conduct which promotes equity and the protection of people's human rights, legal rights, and moral rights. They respect the dignity of all people and peoples.


Explanatory Statement

Psychologists demonstrate their respect for people by acknowledging their legal rights and moral rights, their dignity and right to participate in decisions affecting their lives. They recognise the importance of people's privacy and confidentiality, and physical and personal integrity, and recognise the power they hold over people when practising as psychologists. They have a high regard for the diversity and uniqueness of people and their right to linguistically and culturally appropriate services. Psychologists acknowledge people's right to be treated fairly without discrimination or favouritism, and they endeavour to ensure that all people have reasonable and fair access to psychological services and share in the benefits that the practice of psychology can offer.

Ethical Standards


A.1. Justice

A.1.1. Psychologists avoid discriminating unfairly against people on the basis of age, religion, sexuality, ethnicity, gender, disability, or any other basis proscribed by law.

A.1.2. Psychologists demonstrate an understanding of the consequences for people of unfair discrimination and stereotyping related to their age, religion, sexuality, ethnicity, gender, or disability.

A.1.3. Psychologists assist their clients to address unfair discrimination or prejudice that is directed against the clients.


A.2. Respect


A.2.1. In the course of their conduct, psychologists:

  1. communicate respect for other people through their actions and language;
  2. do not behave in a manner that, having regard to the context, may reasonably be perceived as coercive or demeaning;
  3. respect the legal rights and moral rights of others; and
  4. do not denigrate the character of people by engaging in conduct that demeans them as persons, or defames, or harasses them.

A.2.2. Psychologists act with due regard for the needs, special competencies and obligations of their colleagues in psychology and other professions.

A.2.3. When psychologists have cause to disagree with a colleague in psychology or another profession on professional issues they refrain from making intemperate criticism.

A.2.4. When psychologists in the course of their professional activities are required to review or comment on the qualifications, competencies or work of a colleague in psychology or another profession, they do this in an objective and respectful manner.

A.2.5. Psychologists who review grant or research proposals or material submitted for publication, respect the confidentiality and proprietary rights of those who made the submission.


A.3. Informed consent

A.3.1. Psychologists fully inform clients regarding the psychological services they intend to provide, unless an explicit exception has been agreed upon in advance, or it is not reasonably possible to obtain informed consent.

A.3.2. Psychologists provide information using plain language.

A.3.3. Psychologists ensure consent is informed by:

  1. explaining the nature and purpose of the procedures they intend using;
  2. clarifying the reasonably foreseeable risks, adverse effects, and possible disadvantages of the procedures they intend using;
  3. explaining how information will be collected and recorded;
  4. explaining how, where, and for how long, information will be stored, and who will have access to the stored information;
  5. advising clients that they may participate, may decline to participate, or may withdraw from methods or procedures
    proposed to them;
  6. explaining to clients what the reasonably foreseeable consequences would be if they decline to participate or withdraw from the proposed procedures;
  7. clarifying the frequency, expected duration, financial and administrative basis of anypsychological services that will be provided;
  8. explaining confidentiality and limits to confidentiality (see standard A.5.);
  9. making clear, where necessary, the conditions under which the psychological services may be terminated; and
  10. providing any other relevant information.

A.3.4. Psychologists obtain consent from clients to provide a psychological service unless consent is not required because:

  1. rendering the service without consent is permitted by law; or
  2. a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) or other appropriate ethics committee has waived the requirement in respect of research.

A.3.5. Psychologists obtain and document informed consent from clients or their legal guardians prior to using psychological procedures that entail physical contact with clients.

A.3.6. Psychologists who work with clients whose capacity to give consent is, or may be, impaired or limited, obtain the consent of people with legal authority to act on behalf of the client, and attempt to obtain the client's consent as far as practically possible.

A.3.7. Psychologists who work with clients whose consent is not required by law still comply, as far as practically possible, with the processes described in A.3.1., A.3.2., and A.3.3.

A.4. Privacy

Psychologists avoid undue invasion of privacy in the collection of information. This includes, but is not limited to:

  1. collecting only information relevant to the service being provided; and
  2. not requiring supervisees or trainees to disclose their personal information, unless self-disclosure is a normal expectation of a given training procedure and informed consent has been obtained from participants prior to training.

A.5. Confidentiality

A.5.1. Psychologists safeguard the confidentiality of information obtained during their provision ofpsychological services. Considering their legal and organisational requirements, psychologists:

  1. make provisions for maintaining confidentiality in the collection, recording, accessing, storage, dissemination, and disposal of information; and
  2. take reasonable steps to protect the confidentiality of information after they leave a specific work setting, or cease to provide psychological services.

A.5.2. Psychologists disclose confidential information obtained in the course of their provision ofpsychological services only under any one or more of the following circumstances:

  1. with the consent of the relevant client or a person with legal authority to act on behalf of the client;
  2. where there is a legal obligation to do so;
  3. if there is an immediate and specified risk of harm to an identifiable person or persons that can be averted only by disclosing information; or
  4. when consulting colleagues, or in the course of supervision or professional training, provided the psychologist:
    (i) conceals the identity of clients and associated parties involved; or
    (ii) obtains the client's consent, and gives prior notice to the recipients of the information that they are required to preserve the client's privacy, and obtains an undertaking from the recipients of the information that they will preserve the client's privacy.

A.5.3. Psychologists inform clients at the outset of the professional relationship, and as regularly thereafter as is reasonably necessary, of the:

  1. limits to confidentiality; and
  2. foreseeable uses of the information generated in the course of the relationship.

A.5.4. When a standard of this Code allows psychologists to disclose information obtained in the course of the provision of
psychological services, they disclose only that information which is necessary to achieve the purpose of the disclosure, and then only to people required to have that information.

A.5.5. Psychologists use information collected about a client for a purpose other than the primary purpose of collection only:

  1. with the consent of that client;
  2. if the information is de-identified and used in the course of duly approved research; or
  3. when the use is required or authorised by or under law.

A.6. Release of information to clients

Psychologists, with consideration of legislative exceptions and their organisational requirements, do not refuse any reasonable request from clients, or former clients, to access clientinformation, for which the psychologists have professional responsibility.

A.7. Collection of client information from associated parties

A.7.1. Prior to collecting information regarding a client from an associated party, psychologistsobtain the consent of the client or, where applicable, a person who is authorised by law to represent the client.

A.7.2. Psychologists who work with clients whose capacity to give informed consent is, or may be, impaired or limited, obtain the informed consent of people with legal authority to act on behalf of the client, and attempt to obtain the client's consent as far as practically possible.

A.7.3. Psychologists who work with clients whose informed consent is not required by law nevertheless attempt to comply, as far as practically possible, with the processes described in standards A.7.1., A.7.2., and A.7.4.

A.7.4. Psychologists ensure that a client's consent for obtaining information from an associated party is informed by:

  1. identifying the sources from which they intend collecting information;
  2. explaining the nature and purpose of the information they intend collecting;
  3. stating how the information will be collected;
  4. indicating how, where, and for how long, information will be stored, and who will have access to the stored information;
  5. advising clients that they may decline the request to collect information from an associated party, or withdraw such consent;
  6. explaining to clients what the reasonably foreseeable consequences would be if they decline to give consent;
  7. explaining the associated party's right to confidentiality and limits thereof; and
  8. providing any other relevant information.

A.7.5. Prior to collecting information about a client from an associated party, psychologistsobtain the associated party's consent to collect information from them by, as appropriate to the circumstances:

  1. providing the associated party with demonstrable evidence that the client had given consent for the collection of such
    information;
  2. explaining the nature and purpose of the information they intend collecting;
  3. stating how the information will be collected;
  4. indicating how, where, and for how long, information will be stored, and who will have access to the stored information;
  5. advising them that they may withdraw their consent at any time;
  6. explaining to them what the reasonably foreseeable consequences would be if they withdraw their consent;
  7. explaining the associated party's right to confidentiality and limits thereof; and
  8. providing any other relevant information.

General Principle B: Propriety
Psychologists ensure that they are competent to deliver the psychological services they provide. They provide psychological services to benefit, and not to harm. Psychologists seek to protect the interests of the people and peoples with whom they work. The welfare of clients and the public, and the standing of the profession, take precedence over a psychologist's self-interest.

Explanatory Statement

Psychologists practise within the limits of their competence and know and understand the legal, professional, ethical and, where applicable, organisational rules that regulate the psychological services they provide. They undertake continuing professional development and take steps to ensure that they remain competent to practise, and strive to be aware of the possible effect of their own physical and mental health on their ability to practise competently. Psychologistsanticipate the foreseeable consequences of their professional decisions, provide services that are beneficial to people and do not harm them. Psychologists take responsibility for their professional decisions.

Ethical Standards


B.1. Competence

B.1.1. Psychologists bring and maintain appropriate skills and learning to their areas of professional practice.

B.1.2. Psychologists only provide psychological services within the boundaries of their professional competence. This includes, but is not restricted to:

  1. working within the limits of their education, training, supervised experience and appropriate professional experience;
  2. basing their service on the established knowledge of the discipline and profession of psychology;
  3. adhering to the Code and the Guidelines;
  4. complying with the law of the jurisdiction in which they provide psychological services; and
  5. ensuring that their emotional, mental, and physical state does not impair their ability to provide a competent psychological service.

B.1.3. To maintain appropriate levels of professional competence, psychologists seek professional supervision or consultation as required.

B.1.4. Psychologists continuously monitor their professional functioning. If they become aware of problems that may impair their ability to provide competent psychological services, they take appropriate measures to address the problem by:

  1. obtaining professional advice about whether they should limit, suspend or terminate the provision of psychological
    services;
  2. taking action in accordance with the psychologists' registration legislation of the jurisdiction in which they practise, and the Constitution of the Society; and
  3. refraining, if necessary, from undertaking that psychological service.

B.2. Record keeping

B.2.1. Psychologists make and keep adequate records.

B.2.2. Psychologists keep records for a minimum of seven years since last client contact unless legal or their organisational requirements specify otherwise.

B.2.3. In the case of records collected while the client was less than 18 years old, psychologistsretain the records at least until the client attains the age of 25 years.

B.2.4. Psychologists, with consideration of the legislation and organisational rules to which they are subject, do not refuse any reasonable request from clients, or former clients, to amend inaccurate information for which they have professional responsibility.

B.3. Professional responsibility

Psychologists provide psychological services in a responsible manner. Having regard to the nature of the psychological services they are providing, psychologists:

  1. act with the care and skill expected of a competent psychologist;
  2. take responsibility for the reasonably foreseeable consequences of their conduct;
  3. take reasonable steps to prevent harm occurring as a result of their conduct;
  4. provide a psychological service only for the period when those services are necessary to the client;
  5. are personally responsible for the professional decisions they make;
  6. make reasonable steps to ensure that their services and products are used appropriately and responsibly;
  7. are aware of, and take steps to establish and maintain proper professional boundaries with clients and colleagues; and
  8. regularly review the contractual arrangements with clients and, where circumstances change, make relevant modifications as necessary with the informed consent of the client.


B.4. Provision of psychological services at the request of a third party
Psychologists who agree to provide psychological services to an individual, group of people, system, community or organisation at the request of a third party, at the outset explain to all parties concerned:

  1. the nature of the relationship with each of them;
  2. the psychologist's role (such as, but not limited to, case manager, consultant, counsellor, expert witness, facilitator, forensic assessor, supervisor, teacher/educator, therapist);
  3. the probable uses of the information obtained;
  4. the limits to confidentiality; and
  5. the financial arrangements relating to the provision of the service where relevant.

B.5. Provision of psychological services to multiple clients
Psychologists who agree to provide psychological services to multiple clients:

  1. explain to each client the limits to confidentiality in advance;
  2. give clients an opportunity to consider the limitations of the situation;
  3. obtain clients' explicit acceptance of these limitations; and
  4. ensure as far as possible, that no client is coerced to accept these limitations.

B.6. Delegation of professional tasks
Psychologists who delegate tasks to assistants, employees, junior colleagues or supervisees that involve the provision of psychological services:

  1. take reasonable steps to ensure that delegates are aware of the provisions of this Coderelevant to the delegated professional task;
  2. take reasonable steps to ensure that the delegate is not
    in a multiple relationship that may impair the delegate's judgement;
  3. take reasonable steps to ensure that the delegate's conduct does not place clients or other parties to the psychological service at risk of harm, or does not lead to the exploitation ofclients or other parties to the psychological service;
  4. take reasonable steps to ensure that the delegates are competent to undertake the tasks assigned to them; and
  5. oversee delegates to ensure that they perform tasks competently.

B.7. Use of interpreters
Psychologists who use interpreters:

  1. take reasonable steps to ensure that the interpreters are competent to work as interpreters in the relevant context;
  2. take reasonable steps to ensure that the interpreter is not in a multiple relationship with theclient that may impair the interpreter's judgement;
  3. take reasonable steps to ensure that the interpreter will keep confidential the existence and content of the psychological service;
  4. take reasonable steps to ensure that the interpreter is aware of any other relevant provisions of this Code; and
  5. obtain informed consent from the client to use the selected interpreter.

B.8. Collaborating with others for the benefit of clients

B.8.1. To benefit, enhance and promote the interests of clients, and subject to standard A.5. (Confidentiality), psychologists cooperate with other professionals when it is professionally appropriate and necessary in order to provide effective and efficient psychological services for their clients.


B.8.2. To benefit, enhance and promote the interests of clients, and subject to standard A.5. (Confidentiality), psychologists offer practical assistance to clients who would like a second opinion.

B.9. Accepting clients of other professionals
If a person seeks a psychological service from a psychologist whilst already receiving a similar service from another professional, then the psychologist will:

  1. consider all the reasonably foreseeable implications of becoming involved;
  2. take into account the welfare of the person; and
  3. act with caution and sensitivity towards all parties concerned.

B.10. Suspension of psychological services

B.10.1. Psychologists make suitable arrangements for other appropriate professionals to be available to meet the emergency needs of their clients during periods of the psychologists' foreseeable absence.

B.10.2. Where necessary and with the client's consent, a psychologist makes specific arrangements for other appropriate professionals to consult with the client during periods of the psychologist's foreseeable absence.

B.11. Termination of psychological services

B.11.1. Psychologists terminate their psychological services with a client, if it is reasonably clear that the client is not benefiting from their services.

B.11.2. When psychologists terminate a professional relationship with a client, they shall have due regard for the psychological processes inherent in the services being provided, and the psychological wellbeing of the client.

B.11.3. Psychologists make reasonable arrangements for the continuity of service provision when they are no longer able to deliver the psychological service.

B.11.4. Psychologists make reasonable arrangements for the continuity of service provision forclients whose financial position does not allow them to continue with the psychological service.

B.11.5. When confronted with evidence of a problem or a situation with which they are not competent to deal, or when a client is not benefiting from their psychological services,psychologists:

  1. provide clients with an explanation of the need for the termination;
  2. take reasonable steps to safeguard the client's ongoing welfare; and
  3. offer to help the client locate alternative sources of assistance.

B.11.6. Psychologists whose employment, health or other factors necessitate early termination of relationships with clients:

  1. provide clients with an explanation of the need for the
    termination;
  2. take all reasonable steps to safeguard clients' ongoing
    welfare; and
  3. offer to help clients locate alternative sources of assistance.

B.12. Conflicting demands


B.12.1. Where the demands of an organisation require psychologists to
violate the general principles, values or standards set out in this
Code, psychologists:

  1. clarify the nature of the conflict between the demands and these principles and standards;
  2. inform all parties of their ethical responsibilities as psychologists;
  3. seek a constructive resolution of the conflict that upholds the principles of the Code; and
  4. consult a senior psychologist.

B.12.2. Psychologists who work in a team or other context in which they do not have sole decision-making authority continue to act in a way consistent with this Code, and in the event of any conflict of interest deal with the conflict in a manner set out in B.12.1.

B.13. Psychological assessments

B.13.1. Psychologists use established scientific procedures and observe relevant psychometric standards when they develop and standardise psychological tests and other assessment techniques.

B.13.2. Psychologists specify the purposes and uses of their assessment techniques and clearly indicate the limits of the assessment techniques' applicability.

B.13.3. Psychologists ensure that they choose, administer and interpret assessment procedures appropriately and accurately.

B.13.4. Psychologists use valid procedures and research findings when scoring and interpreting psychological assessment data.

B.13.5. Psychologists report assessment results appropriately and accurately in language that the recipient can understand.

B.13.6. Psychologists do not compromise the effective use of psychological assessment methods or techniques, nor render them open to misuse, by publishing or otherwise disclosing their contents to persons unauthorised or unqualified to receive such information.

B.14. Research

B.14.1. Psychologists comply with codes, statements, guidelines and other directives developed either jointly or independently by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), the Australian Research Council, or Universities Australia regarding research with humans and animals applicable at the time psychologists conduct their research.

B.14.2. After research results are published or become publicly available, psychologists make the data on which their conclusions are based available to other competent professionals who seek to verify the substantive claims through reanalysis, provided that:

  1. the data will be used only for the purpose stated in the approved research proposal; and
  2. the identity of the participants is removed.

B.14.3. Psychologists accurately report the data they have gathered and the results of their research, and state clearly if any data on which the publication is based have been published previously.


General Principle C: Integrity

Psychologists recognise that their knowledge of the discipline of psychology, their professional standing, and the information they gather place them in a position of power and trust. They exercise their power appropriately and honour this position of trust. Psychologists keep faith with the nature and intentions of their professional relationships. Psychologists act with probity and honesty in their conduct.

Explanatory Statement
Psychologists recognise that their position of trust requires them to be honest and objective in their professional dealings. They are committed to the best interests of their clients, the profession and their colleagues. Psychologists are aware of their own biases, limits to their objectivity, and the importance of maintaining proper boundaries with clients. They identify and avoid potential conflicts of interest. They refrain from exploiting clients and associated parties.

Ethical Standards


C.1. Reputable behaviour

C.1.1. Psychologists avoid engaging in disreputable conduct that reflects on their ability to practise as a psychologist.

C.1.2. Psychologists avoid engaging in disreputable conduct that reflects negatively on the profession or discipline of psychology.

C.2. Communication

C.2.1. Psychologists communicate honestly in the context of their psychological work.

C.2.2. Psychologists take reasonable steps to correct any misrepresentation made by them or about them in their professional capacity within a reasonable time after becoming aware of the misrepresentation.

C.2.3. Statements made by psychologists in announcing or advertising the availability ofpsychological services, products, or publications, must not contain:

  1. any statement which is false, fraudulent, misleading or deceptive or likely to mislead or deceive;
  2. testimonials or endorsements that are solicited in exchange for remuneration or have the potential to exploit clients;
  3. any statement claiming or implying superiority for the psychologist over any or all other psychologists;
  4. any statement intended or likely to create false or unjustified expectations of favourable results;
  5. any statement intended or likely to appeal to a client's fears, anxieties or emotions concerning the possible results of failure to obtain the offered services;
  6. any claim unjustifiably stating or implying that the psychologist uses exclusive or superior apparatus, methods or materials; and
  7. any statement which is vulgar, sensational or otherwise such as would bring, or tend to bring, the psychologist or the profession of psychology into disrepute.

C.2.4. When announcing or advertising the availability of psychological services or at any time when representing themselves as a psychologist, psychologists use accurate postnominals, including the postnominals used to represent their grade of membership with the Society.

C.2.5. Psychologists take reasonable steps to correct any misconceptions held by a client about the psychologist's professional competencies.


C.3. Conflict of interest

C.3.1. Psychologists refrain from engaging in multiple relationships that may:

  1. impair their competence, effectiveness, objectivity, or ability to render a psychological service;
  2. harm clients or other parties to a psychological service; or
  3. lead to the exploitation of clients or other parties to a psychological service.

C.3.2. Psychologists who are at risk of violating standard C.3.1., consult with a seniorpsychologist to attempt to find an appropriate resolution that is in the best interests of the parties to the psychological service.

C.3.3. When entering into a multiple relationship is unavoidable due to over-riding ethical considerations, organisational requirements, or by law, psychologists at the outset of theprofessional relationship, and thereafter when it is reasonably necessary, adhere to the provisions of standard A.3. (Informed consent).

C.3.4. Psychologists declare to clients any vested interests they have in the psychological services they deliver, including all relevant funding, licensing and royalty interests.

C.4. Non-exploitation

C.4.1. Psychologists do not exploit people with whom they have or had a professionalrelationship.

C.4.2. Psychologists do not exploit their relationships with their assistants, employees, colleagues or supervisees.


C.4.3. Psychologists:

  1. do not engage in sexual activity with a client or anybody who is closely related to one of their clients;
  2. do not engage in sexual activity with a former client, or anybody who is closely related to one of their former clients, within two years after terminating the professional relationshipwith the former client;
  3. who wish to engage in sexual activity with former clients after a period of two years from the termination of the service, first explore with a senior psychologist the possibility that the former client may be vulnerable and at risk of exploitation, and encourage the former clientto seek independent counselling on the matter; and
  4. do not accept as a client a person with whom they have engaged in sexual activity.

C.5. Authorship

C.5.1. Psychologists discuss authorship with research collaborators, research assistants and students as early as feasible and through the research and publication process as is necessary.

C.5.2. Psychologists assign authorship in a manner that reflects the work performed and that the contribution made is a fair reflection of the work people have actually performed or of what they have contributed.

C.5.3. Psychologists usually list the student as principal author on any multiple-authored article that is substantially based on the student's dissertation or thesis.

C.5.4. Psychologists obtain the consent of people before identifying them as contributors to the published or presented material.

C.6. Financial arrangements

C.6.1. Psychologists are honest in their financial dealings.

C.6.2. Psychologists make proper financial arrangements with clients and,where relevant, third party payers. They:

  1. make advance financial arrangements that safeguard the best interests of, and are clearly understood, by all parties to the psychological service; and
  2. avoid financial arrangements which may adversely influence the psychological servicesprovided, whether at the time of provision of those services or subsequently.

C.6.3. Psychologists do not receive any remuneration, or give any remuneration for referringclients to, or accepting referrals from, other professionals for professional services.


C.7. Ethics investigations and concerns

C.7.1. Psychologists cooperate with ethics investigations and proceedings instituted by the Society as well as statutory bodies that are charged by legislation with the responsibility to investigate complaints against psychologists.

C.7.2. Psychologists who reasonably suspect that another psychologist
is acting in a manner inconsistent with the ethical principles and
standards presented in this Code:

  1. where appropriate, draw the attention of the psychologist whose conduct is in question directly, or indirectly through a
    senior psychologist, to the actions that are thought to be in breach of the Code and cite the section of the Code which
    may have been breached;
  2. encourage people directly affected by such behaviour to report the conduct to a relevant regulatory body or the Ethics Committee of the Society; or
  3. report the conduct to a relevant regulatory body or the Ethics Committee of the Society.

C.7.3. Psychologists do not lodge, or endorse the lodging, of trivial, vexatious or unsubstantiated ethical complaints against colleagues.

Appendix

Current Ethical Guidelines
(as at September 2007)

Guidelines for the provision of psychological services for and the conduct of psychological research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of Australia- revised May 2003

Guidelines for the use of aversive procedures - July 2000

Guidelines on confidentiality (including when working with minors) - July 1999

Guidelines on co-ordinated disaster response, pro bono, or voluntary psychological services- July 2003

Guidelines regarding financial dealings and fair trading - July 2002

Guidelines for working with people who pose a high risk of harm to others- February 2005

Guidelines on the teaching and use of hypnosis, and related practices- revised December 2005

Guidelines for providing psychological services and products on the internet - March 2004

Guidelines for psychological practice with lesbian, gay and bisexual clients - October 2000

Guidelines for psychological services involving multiple clients and associated parties- December 2006

Guidelines for the provision of psychological services for and the conduct of psychological research with, older adults - September 2005

Guidelines for managing professional boundaries and multiple relationships - August 1999

Guidelines on the prohibition of sexual relationships with clients - revised March 2007

Guidelines for the use of psychological tests - July 1998

Guidelines relating to procedures/assessments that involve psychologist-client physical contact - revised May 2006

Guidelines on record keeping - June 2004

Guidelines relating to recovered memories - revised May 2000

Guidelines on reporting child abuse and neglect, and criminal activity- modified December 2003

Guidelines for psychological practice in rural and remote settings - August 2004

Guidelines relating to suicidal clients - revised November 2004

Guidelines on supervision - July 2003

Guidelines for psychological practice with women - revised May 2003

The Australian Psychological Society Limited
ABN 20 000 543-788
PO Box 38, Flinders Lane
Victoria 8009, Australia
Ph: +61 3 8662 3300
Fax: +61 3 9663 6177
Email: contactus@psychology.org.au
Website: www.psychology.org.au

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