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Canadian Code of Ethics for Psychologists (1991)
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Canadian Code of Ethics for Psychologists
Every discipline that has relatively autonomous control over its entry requirements, training, development of knowledge, standards, methods, and practices does so only within the context of a contract with the society in which it functions. This social contract is based on attitudes of mutual respect and trust, with society granting support for the autonomy of a discipline in exchange for a commitment by the discipline to do everything it can to assure that its members act ethically in conducting the affairs of the discipline within society; in particular, a commitment to try to assure that each member will place the welfare of the society and individual members of that society above the welfare of the discipline and its own members.
The Canadian Psychological Association recognizes its responsibility to help assure ethical behaviour and attitudes on the part of psychologists. Attempts to assure ethical behaviour and attitudes include articulating ethical principles, values and standards; promoting those principles, values, and standards through education, peer modelling, and consultation; developing and implementing methods to help psychologists monitor the ethics of their behaviour and attitudes; adjudicating complaints of unethical behaviour; and, taking corrective action when warranted.
This Code articulates ethical principles, values, and standards to guide all members of the Canadian Psychological Association, whether scientists, practitioners, or scientist practitioners, or whether acting in a research, direct service, teaching, student, administrative, supervisory, consultative, peer review, editorial, expert witness, social policy, or any other role related to the discipline of psychology.
Structure and Derivation of Code
Structure. Four ethical principles, to be considered and balanced in ethical decision making, are presented. Each principle is followed by a statement of those values which are included in and give definition to the principle. Each values statement is followed by a list of ethical standards which illustrate the application of the specific principle and values to the activities of psychologists. The standards range from minimal behavioural expectations (e.g., Standards I.14, II.34, III.1, IV.24) to more idealized, but achievable, attitudinal and behavioural expectations (e.g., Standards I.16, II.10, III.10, IV.5). In the margin, to the left of the standards, key words are placed to guide the reader through the standards and to illustrate the relationship of the specific standards to the values statement.
Derivation. The four principles represent those ethical principles used most consistently by Canadian psychologists to resolve hypothetical ethical dilemmas sent to them by the CPA Committee on Ethics during the initial development of the Code. In addition to the responses provided by Canadian psychologists, the values statements and ethical standards have been derived from interdisciplinary and international ethics codes, provincial and specialty codes of conduct, and ethics literature.
When Principles Conflict
All four principles are to be taken into account and balanced in ethical decision making. However, there are circumstances in which ethical principles will conflict and it will not be possible to give each principle equal weight.
The complexity of ethical conflicts precludes a firm ordering of the principles. However, the four principles have been ordered according to the weight each generally should be given when they conflict, namely:
- Principle I: Respect for the Dignity of Persons. This principle, with its emphasis on moral rights, generally should be given the highest weight, except in circumstances in which there is a clear and imminent danger to the physical safety of any individual.
- Principle II: Responsible Caring. This principle generally should be given the second highest weight. Responsible caring requires competence and should be carried out only in ways that respect the dignity of persons.
- Principle III: Integrity in Relationships. This principle generally should be given the third highest weight. Psychologists are expected to demonstrate the highest integrity in all of their relationships. However, in rare circumstances, values such as openness and straightforwardness may need to be subordinated to the values contained in the Principles of Respect for the Dignity of Persons and Responsible Caring.
- Principle IV: Responsibility to Society. This principle generally should be given the lowest weight of the four principles when it conflicts with one or more of them. Although it is necessary and important to consider responsibility to society in every ethical decision, adherence to this principle must be subject to and guided by Respect for the Dignity of Persons, Responsible Caring, and Integrity in Relationships. When individual welfare appears to conflict with benefits to society, it is often possible to find ways of working for the benefit of society which do not violate respect and responsible caring for individuals. However, if this is not possible, then greater weight must be given to individual welfare.
Even with the above ordering of the principles, psychologists will be faced with ethical dilemmas which are difficult to resolve. In these circumstances, psychologists are expected to engage in an ethical decision-making process that is explicit enough to bear public scrutiny. In some cases, resolution may be a matter of personal conscience. However, decisions of personal conscience are also expected to be the result of a decision-making process which is based on a reasonably coherent set of ethical principles and which can bear public scrutiny. If the psychologist can demonstrate that every reasonable effort was made to apply the ethical principles of this Code and resolution of the conflict has had to depend on the personal conscience of the psychologist, such a psychologist would be deemed to have followed this Code.
The Ethical Decision-Making Process
The ethical decision-making process may occur very rapidly, leading to an easy resolution of an ethical issue. This is particularly true of issues for which clear-cut guidelines or standards exist and for which there is no conflict between principles. On the other hand, some ethical issues (particularly those in which ethical principles conflict) are not easily resolved and might require time-consuming deliberation.
The following basic steps typify approaches to ethical decision making:
- Identification of ethically relevant issues and practices.
- Development of alternative courses of action.
- Analysis of likely short-term, ongoing, and long-term risks and benefits of each course of action on the individual(s)/group(s) involved or likely to be affected (e.g., client, client's family or employees, employing institution, students, research participants, colleagues, the discipline, society, self).
- Choice of course of action after conscientious application of existing principles, values, and standards.
- Action, with a commitment to assume responsibility for the consequences of the action.
- Evaluation of the results of the course of action.
- Assumption of responsibility for consequences of action, including correction of negative consequences, if any, or re- engaging in the decision-making process if the ethical issue is not resolved.
Psychologists engaged in time-consuming deliberation are encouraged and expected to consult with colleagues and/or advisory bodies when such persons can add knowledge and/or objectivity to the decision- making process. Although the decision for action remains with the individual psychologist, the seeking and consideration of such assistance reflects an ethical approach to ethical decision making.
Uses of the Code
This Code is intended to guide psychologists in their everyday conduct, thinking and planning, and in the resolution of ethical dilemmas; that is, it advocates the practice of both proactive and reactive ethics.
The Code is also intended to serve as an umbrella document for the development of codes of conduct or other more specific codes. For example, the Code could be used as an ethical framework for the identification of behaviours which would be considered enforceable in a certain jurisdiction, the violation of which would constitute misconduct; and/or, certain jurisdictions could identify those standards in the Code that would be considered of a more serious nature and, therefore, reportable and subject to possible discipline. Also, the principles and values could be used to help specialty areas develop standards which are specific to those areas. Some work in this direction has already occurred within CPA (e.g., use of animals in research, therapy and counselling with women, practice guidelines for providers of psychological services). The principles and values incorporated into this Code, insofar as they come to be reflected in other documents guiding the behaviour of psychologists, will reduce inconsistency and conflict between documents.
A third use of the Code is to assist in the adjudication of complaints against psychologists. A body charged with this responsibility is required to investigate allegations, judge whether unacceptable behaviour has occurred, and determine what corrective action should be taken. In determining corrective action, one of the judgements the adjudicating body needs to make is whether an individual conscientiously engaged in an ethical decision-making process and acted in good faith, or whether there was a negligent or wilful disregard of ethical principles. The articulation of the ethical decision-making process contained in this Code provides guidance for making such judgements.
Responsibility of the individual psychologist
Responsibility for ethical action by psychologists depends foremost on the integrity of each individual psychologist; that is, on each psychologist's commitment to behave as ethically as possible in every situation. This commitment is essential to the fulfilment of any discipline's contract with society. Acceptance to membership in the Canadian Psychological Association, a scientific and professional association of psychologists, commits members:
- To adhere to the ethical Code adopted by the Association.
- To assess and discuss ethical issues and practices with colleagues on a regular basis.
- To bring concerns about possible unethical actions by a psychologist directly to the psychologist, when appropriate, and to attempt to reach an agreement on the issue and, if needed, on the appropriate action to be taken.
- To consider seriously others' concerns about one's own possibly unethical actions and attempt to reach an agreement on the issue and, if needed, take appropriate action.
- To cooperate with duly constituted committees of the Association which are concerned with ethics and ethical conduct.
- To bring to the attention of the Association ethical issues which require clarification or the development of new guidelines or standards.
Relationship of Code to personal behaviour
This Code is intended to guide and regulate only those activities a psychologist engages in by virtue of being a psychologist. There is no intention to guide or regulate a psychologist's activities outside of this context. Personal behaviour becomes a concern of the discipline only if it is of such a nature that it undermines public trust in the discipline as a whole or if it raises questions about the psychologist's ability to carry out appropriately his/her responsibilities as a psychologist.
Relationship of Code to provincial regulatory bodies
In exercising its responsibility to articulate ethical principles, values, and standards for those who wish to become and remain members in good standing, the Canadian Psychological Association recognizes the multiple membership that some psychologists have (both regulatory and voluntary). The Code has attempted to encompass and incorporate those ethical principles most prevalent in the discipline as a whole, thereby minimizing the possibility of variance with provincial/territorial regulations and guidelines. Psychologists are expected to respect the requirements of their provincial/territorial regulatory bodies. Such requirements may define particular behaviours which constitute misconduct, are reportable to the regulatory body, and/or which are subject to discipline.
Definition of Terms
For the purposes of this Code:
a) Psychologist means any person who is a Fellow, Member, Student Affiliate or Foreign Affiliate of the Canadian Psychological Association, or a member of any psychology voluntary association or regulatory body adopting this Code. (Readers are reminded that provincial/territorial jurisdictions may restrict the legal use of the term psychologist in their jurisdiction and that such restrictions are to be honoured.)
b) Client means a person, family, or group (including an organization or community) receiving service from a psychologist.
c) Clients, research participants, students and any other persons with whom psychologists come in contact in the course of their work, are independent if they can independently contract or give informed consent. Such persons are partially dependent if the decision to contract or give informed consent is shared between two or more parties (e.g., parents and school boards, workers and Worker Compensation Boards, adult members of a family). Such persons are considered to be fully dependent if they have little or no choice about whether or not to receive service or participate in an activity (e.g., patients who have been involuntarily committed to a psychiatric facility, or very young children involved in a research project).
d) Others means any individual or group with whom psychologists come in contact in the course of their work. It may include, but is not limited to: research participants; clients seeking help with personal, family, organizational, industrial or community issues; students; supervisees; employees; colleagues; employers; third party payers; and, members of the general public.
e) Legal or civil rights means those rights protected under laws and statutes recognized by the province in which the psychologist is working.
f) Moral rights means fundamental and inalienable human rights which may or may not be fully protected by existing laws and statutes. Of particular significance to psychologists, for example, are rights to: equal justice; fairness and due process; and, developmentally appropriate privacy, self-determination, and personal liberty. Protection of some aspects of these rights may involve practices which are not contained or controlled within current laws and statutes. Moral rights are not limited to those mentioned in this definition.
g) Unjust discrimination or unjustly discriminatory means activities which are prejudicial or promote prejudice to persons because of their culture, nationality, ethnicity, colour, race, religion, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, physical or mental abilities, age, socio-economic status, and/or any other preference or personal characteristic, condition, or status.
h) Sexual harassment includes either or both of the following: (i) The use of power or authority in an attempt to coerce another person to engage in or tolerate sexual activity. Such uses include explicit or implicit threats of reprisal for noncompliance or promises of reward for compliance. (ii) Engaging in deliberate and/or repeated unsolicited sexually oriented comments, anecdotes, gestures, or touching, if such behaviours: are offensive and unwelcome; create an offensive, hostile or intimidating working environment; or, can be expected to be harmful to the recipient.(1)
i) The discipline of psychology refers to the scientific and applied methods and knowledge of psychology, and to the structures and procedures used by its members for conducting their work in relationship to society, to members of the public, to students, and to each other.
Guidelines for the elimination of sexual harassment.
Old Chelsea, Qc. Author
In order to maintain the relevance and responsiveness of this Code, it will be reviewed by the CPA Board of Directors in three years, and revised as needed. You are invited to forward comments and suggestions, at any time, to the CPA office. In addition to psychologists, this invitation is extended to all readers, including members of other disciplines and the public. principle i: respect for the dignity of persons.
In the course of their work as scientists,practitioners, or scientist-practitioners, psychologists come into contact with many different individuals and groups, including: research participants; clients seeking help with personal, family, organizational, industrial or community issues; students; supervisees; employees; colleagues; employers; third party payers; and, the general public.
In these contacts, psychologists accept as fundamental the principle of respect for the dignity of persons; that is, the belief that each person should be treated primarily as a person or an end in him/herself, not as an object or a means to an end. In so doing, psychologists acknowledge that all persons have a right to have their innate worth as human beings appreciated and that this worth is not enhanced or reduced by their culture, nationality, ethnicity, colour, race, religion, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, physical or mental abilities, age, socio-economic status, and/or any other preference or personal characteristic, condition, or status.
Although psychologists have a responsibility to respect the dignity of all persons with whom they come in contact in their role as psychologists, the nature of their contract with society demands that their greatest responsibility be to those persons directly receiving or involved in the psychologist's activities and, therefore, normally in a more vulnerable position (e.g., research participants, clients, students). This responsibility is almost always greater than their responsibility to those indirectly involved (e.g., employers, third party payers, the general public).
Adherence to the concept of moral rights is an essential component of respect for the dignity of persons. Rights to privacy, self- determination, personal liberty, and natural justice are of particular importance to psychologists, and they have a responsibility to protect and promote these rights in all of their activities. As such, psychologists have a responsibility to develop and follow procedures for informed consent, confidentiality, fair treatment, and due process that are consistent with those rights.
As individual rights exist within the context of the rights of others and of responsible caring (see Principle II), there may be circumstances in which the possibility of serious detrimental consequences to themselves or others, a diminished capacity to be autonomous, or a court order, might disallow some aspects of the rights to privacy, self-determination, and personal liberty. Indeed, such circumstances might be serious enough to create a duty to warn others (see Standards I.40 and II.36). However, psychologists still have a responsibility to respect the rights of the person(s) involved to the greatest extent possible under the circumstances, and to do what is necessary and reasonable to reduce the need for future disallowances.
In addition, psychologists recognize that as individual, family, group, or community vulnerabilities increase and/or as the power of persons to control their environment or their lives decreases, psychologists have an increasing responsibility to seek ethical advice and to establish safeguards to protect the rights of the persons involved. For this reason, psychologists consider it their responsibility to increase safeguards to protect and promote the rights of persons involved in their activities proportionate to the degree of dependency and the lack of voluntary initiation. For example, this would mean that there would be more safeguards to protect and promote the rights of fully dependent persons than partially dependent persons, and more safeguards for partially- dependent than independent persons.
Respect for the dignity of persons also includes the concept of equal justice. With respect to psychologists, this concept implies that all persons are entitled to benefit equally from the contributions of psychology and to equal quality in the processes, procedures, and services being conducted by psychologists. Although individual psychologists might specialize and direct their activities to particular populations, psychologists must not exclude persons on a capricious or unjustly discriminatory basis.
Principle I: Respect for the Dignity of Persons
In adhering to the Principle of Respect for the Dignity of Persons, psychologists would:
I.1 Demonstrate appropriate respect for the knowledge, insight, experience, and areas of expertise of others.
I.2 Not engage publicly (e.g., in public statements, presentations, research reports, or with clients) in demeaning descriptions of others, including jokes based on culture, nationality, ethnicity, colour, race, religion, gender, etc., or other remarks which reflect adversely on the dignity of others.
I.3 Use language that conveys respect for the dignity of others (e.g., gender-neutral terms) in all written or verbal communication.
I.4 Abstain from all forms of harassment, including sexual harassment.
I.5 Avoid or refuse to participate in practices disrespectful of the legal, civil, or moral rights of others.
I.6 Refuse to advise, train, or supply information to anyone who, in the psychologist's judgement, will use the knowledge or skills to infringe on human rights.
I.7 Make every reasonable effort to ensure that psychological knowledge is not misused, intentionally or unintentionally, to infringe on human rights.
I.8 Respect the right of recipients of service, research participants, employees, supervisees, students, and others, to safeguard their own dignity.
I.9 Not practice, condone, facilitate, or collaborate with any form of unjust discrimination.
I.10 Act to prevent or correct practices that are unjustly discriminatory.
I.11 Seek as full and active participation as possible from others in decisions which affect them.
I.12 Respect and integrate as much as possible the opinions and wishes of others regarding decisions which affect them.
I.13 Obtain informed consent from all independent and partially dependent persons for any psychological services provided to them except in circumstances of urgent need (e.g., suicidal gesture). In such circumstances, psychologists would proceed with the assent of such persons, but fully informed consent would be obtained as soon as possible. (Also see Standard I.22.)
I.14 Obtain informed consent for all research activities which involve obtrusive measures, invasion into the private lives of research participants, risks to the participant, or any attempt to change the behaviour of research participants.
I.15 Establish and use signed consent forms which specify the dimensions of informed consent or which acknowledge that such dimensions have been explained and are understood, if such forms are required by law or if such forms are desired by the psychologist, the person(s) giving consent, or the organization for whom the psychologist works.
I.16 Recognize that informed consent is the result of a process of reaching an agreement to work collaboratively, rather than of simply having a consent form signed.
I.17 Provide, in obtaining informed consent, as much information as a reasonable or prudent person, family, group, or community would want to know before making a decision or consenting to an activity. The psychologist would relay this information in language which the persons understand (including providing translation into another language, if necessary) and would take whatever reasonable steps are necessary to assure that the information was, in fact, understood.
I.18 Assure, in the process of obtaining informed consent, that at least the following points are understood: purpose and nature of the activity; mutual responsibilities; likely benefits and risks; alternatives; the likely consequences of non-action; the option to refuse or withdraw at any time, without prejudice; over what period of time the consent applies; and, how to rescind consent if desired.
I.19 Clarify the nature of multiple relationships to all concerned parties before obtaining consent, if providing services to or conducting research with individuals, families, groups, or communities at the request or for the use of third parties. This would include, but not be limited to: the purpose of the service or research; the use that will be made of information collected; and, the limits on confidentiality. Third parties may include schools, courts, government agencies, insurance companies, police, and special funding bodies.
Freedom of consent
I.20 Take all reasonable steps to ensure that of consent is not given under conditions coercion or undue pressure. (Also see Standard III.31.)
I.21 Not proceed with any research activity, if consent is given under any condition of coercion or undue pressure. (Also see Standard III.31.)
I.22 Take all reasonable steps to confirm or re-establish freedom of consent, if consent for service is given under conditions of duress or conditions of extreme need.
I.23 Respect the right of individuals to discontinue participation or service at any time, and be responsive to non-verbal indications of a desire to discontinue if the individual has difficulty with verbally communicating such a desire (e.g., young children, verbally disabled persons).
Fair treatment/Due process
I.24 Work and act in a spirit of fair treatment to others.
I.25 Help to establish and abide by due process or other natural justice procedures for employment, evaluation, adjudication, editorial, and peer review activities.
I.26 Compensate others justly for the use of their time, energy, and intelligence, unless such compensation is refused in advance.
I.27 Seek an independent and adequate ethical review of human rights issues and protections for any research involving vulnerable groups and/or persons of diminished capacity to give informed consent, before making a decision to proceed.
I.28 Not use persons of diminished capacity to give informed consent in research studies, if the research involved might equally well be carried out with persons who have a fuller capacity to give informed consent.
I.29 Carry out informed consent processes with those persons who are legally responsible or appointed to give informed consent on behalf of individuals who are not competent to consent on their own behalf.
I.30 Seek willing and adequately informed participation from any person of diminished capacity to give informed consent, and proceed without this assent only if the service or research activity is considered to be of direct benefit to that person.
I.31 Be particularly cautious in establishing the freedom of consent of any individual who is in a dependent relationship to the psychologist (e,g., student, employee). This may include, but is not limited to, offering that person an alternative activity to fulfil their educational or employment goals, or offering a range of research studies or experience opportunities from which the person can select.
I.32 Explore and collect only that information which is germane to the purpose(s) for which consent has been obtained.
I.33 Take care not to infringe, in research or service activities, on the personally or culturally defined private space of individuals or groups unless clear permission is granted to do so.
I.34 Record only that private information necessary for the provision of continuous, coordinated service, or for the goals of the particular research study being conducted, or which is required by law (see Standards IV.15, and IV.16).
I.35 Respect the right of employees, supervisees, students, or psychologists-in-training to reasonable personal privacy.
I.36 Store, handle, and transfer all records, both written and unwritten (e.g., computer files, video-tapes), in a way that attends to the needs for privacy and security. This would include having adequate plans for records in circumstances of one's own serious illness or death.
I.37 Take all reasonable steps to ensure that records over which they have control remain personally identifiable only as long as is necessary in the interests of those to whom they refer and/or to the research project for which they were collected, or as required by law, and render anonymous or destroy any records under their control that no longer need to be personally identifiable.
I.38 Be careful not to relay information which they have gained about colleagues, colleagues' clients, students, and members of organizations gained in the process of their activities as psychologists and which the psychologist has reason to believe is considered confidential by those persons, except as required or justified by law (see Standards IV.15 and IV.16).
I.39 Clarify what measures will be taken to protect confidentiality, and what responsibilities family, group, and community members have for the protection of each other's confidentiality, when engaged in services to or research with individuals, families, groups, or communities.
I.40 Share confidential information with others only with the informed consent of those involved, or in a manner that the individuals involved cannot be identified, except as required or justified by law, or in circumstances of actual or possible serious physical harm or death (see Standard II.36).
I.41 Encourage others, if appropriate, to respect the dignity of persons and to expect respect for their own dignity.
I.42 Assume overall responsibility for the scientific and professional activities of their assistants, students, supervisees, and employees with regard to Respect for the Dignity of Persons, all of whom, however, incur similar obligations.
Principle II: Responsible Caring
A basic ethical expectation of any discipline is that its activities will benefit members of society or, at least, do no harm. Therefore, psychologists demonstrate an active concern for the welfare of any individual, family, group, or community with whom they relate in their role as psychologists. This concern includes both those directly involved and those indirectly involved in their activities. However, as with Principle I, psychologists' greatest responsibility is to protect the welfare of those directly involved in their activities and, therefore, normally in a more vulnerable position (e.g., research participants, clients, students). Their responsibility to those indirectly involved (e,g., employers, third party payers, the general public) is secondary.
As individuals are usually concerned about their own welfare, obtaining informed consent (see Principle I) is one of the best methods for ensuring that their welfare will be protected. However, it is only when informed consent is combined with the responsible caring of the psychologist that there is considerable ethical protection of the welfare of the person(s) involved.
Responsible caring leads psychologists to take care to discern the potential harm and benefits involved, to predict the likelihood of their occurrence, to proceed only if the potential benefits outweigh the potential harms, to develop and use methods that will minimize harms and maximize benefits, and to take responsibility for correcting any harmful effects that have occurred as a result of their activities.
In order to carry out these steps, psychologists recognize the need for competence and self-knowledge. They consider incompetent action to be unethical per se, as it is unlikely to be of benefit and likely to be harmful. They engage only in those activities in which they have competence, and they perform their activities as competently as possible. They acquire, contribute to, and use the existing knowledge most relevant to the best interests of those concerned. They also engage in self-reflection regarding how their own values, attitudes, experiences, and social context (e.g., culture, ethnicity, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation, physical and mental ability level, age, and socio-economic status) influence their actions, interpretations, choices, and recommendations. This is done with the intent of increasing the probability that their activities will benefit and not harm the individuals, families, groups and communities to whom they relate in their role as psychologists. Psychologists define harm and benefit in terms of both physical and psychological dimensions. They are concerned about such factors as feelings of self-worth, fear, humiliation, interpersonal trust, cynicism, self-knowledge and general knowledge, as well as such factors as physical safety, comfort, pain, and injury. They are concerned about immediate, short-term, and long-term effects.
Responsible caring recognizes and acknowledges (e.g., through obtaining informed consent) the ability of individuals, families, groups, and communities to care for themselves and each other. It does not replace or undermine such ability. However, psychologists recognize that as vulnerabilities increase and/or as power to control one's own life decreases, they have an increasing responsibility to protect the wellbeing of the individual, family, group, or community involved. For this reason, as in Principle I, psychologists consider it their responsibility to increase safeguards proportionate to the degree of dependency and the lack of voluntary initiation on the part of the persons involved. However, for Principle II, the safeguards are for the well-being of persons rather than for the rights of persons.
Psychologists' treatment and use of animals in their research and teaching activities are also a component of responsible caring. Although animals do not have the same rights as persons (e.g., informed consent), they do have the right to be treated humanely and not to be exposed to unnecessary discomfort, pain, or disruption.
In adhering to the Principle of Responsible Caring, psychologists would:
II.1 Protect and promote the welfare of clients, students, research participants, colleagues, and others.
II.2 Avoid doing harm to clients, students, research participants, colleagues, and others.
II.3 Accept responsibility for the consequences of their actions.
II.4 Refuse to advise, train, or supply information to anyone who, in the psychologist's judgement, will use the knowledge or skills to harm others.
II.5 Make every reasonable effort to ensure that psychological knowledge is not misused, intentionally or unintentionally, to harm others.
Competence and self-knowledge
II.6 Offer or carry out (without supervision) only those activities for which they have established their competence to carry them out to the benefit of others.
II.7 Not delegate activities to persons not competent to carry them out to the benefit of others.
II.8 Take immediate steps to obtain consultation or to refer a client to a colleague or other appropriate professional, whichever is more likely to result in providing the client with competent service, if it becomes apparent that a client's problems are beyond their competence.
II.9 Keep themselves up to date with relevant knowledge, research methods, and techniques, through the reading of relevant literature, peer consultation, and continuing education activities, in order that their service or research activities and conclusions will benefit and not harm others.
II.10 Evaluate how their own experiences, attitudes, culture, beliefs, values, social context, individual differences, and stresses influence their interactions with others, and integrate this awareness into all efforts to benefit and not harm others.
II.11 Seek appropriate help and/or discontinue scientific or professional activity for an appropriate period of time, if a physical or psychological condition reduces their ability to benefit and not harm others.
II.12 Engage in self-care activities which help to avoid conditions (e.g., burnout, addictions) which could result in impaired judgement and interfere with their ability to benefit and not harm others.
II.13 Assess the individuals, families, groups, and communities involved in their activities adequately enough to ensure that they will be able to discern what will benefit and not harm those persons.
II.14 Be sufficiently sensitive to and knowledgeable about individual differences and vulnerabilities to discern what will benefit and not harm persons involved in their activities.
II.15 Carry out pilot studies to determine the effects of all new procedures and techniques which might carry some risks, before considering their use on a broader scale.
II.16 Seek an independent and adequate ethical review of the balance of risks and potential benefits of all research which involves procedures of unknown consequence, or where pain, discomfort, or harm are possible, before making a decision to proceed.
II.17 Not carry out any scientific or professional activity unless the probable benefit is proportionately greater than the risk involved.
II.18 Provide services which are coordinated over time and with other service providers, in order to avoid duplication or working at cross purposes.
-Such coordination would be promoted by the maintenance of adequate records and communication with other service providers.
II.19 Make themselves aware of the knowledge and skills of other disciplines (e.g., law, medicine) and advise the use of such knowledge and skills, where relevant to the benefit of others.
II.20 Strive to obtain the best possible service for those needing and seeking psychological service. This includes recommending professionals other than psychologists, if appropriate.
II.21 Monitor and evaluate the effect of their activities, record their findings and, if appropriate, communicate new knowledge to others in the field.
II.22 Debrief research participants in such a way that the participants' knowledge is enhanced and the participants have a sense of contribution to knowledge.
II.23 Perform their teaching duties on the basis of careful preparation, so that their instruction is current and scholarly.
II.24 Act on their obligation to facilitate the professional and scientific development of their students, trainees, employees, and supervisees by assuring that these persons understand the values and ethical prescriptions of the discipline, and by providing or arranging for adequate working conditions, timely evaluations, and constructive consultation and experience opportunities.
II.25 Encourage and assist students in publication of worthy student papers.
II.26 Be acutely aware of the power relationship intherapy and, therefore, not encourage or engage in sexual intimacy with therapy clients, neither during therapy, nor for that period of time following therapy during which the power relationship reasonably could be expected to influence the client's personal decision making.
II.27 Be careful not to engage in activities in a way that could place incidentally involved individuals at risk.
II.28 Be acutely aware of the need for discretion in the recording and communication of information, in order that the information not be interpreted or used to the detriment of others. This includes, but is not limited to: not recording information which could lead to misinterpretation and misuse; avoiding conjecture; clearly labelling opinion; and, communicating information in language that can be understood clearly by the particular recipient of the information.
II.29 Give reasonable assistance to secure needed psychological services or activities, if personally unable to meet requests for needed psychological services or activities.
II.30 Maintain appropriate contact, support, and responsibility for caring until a colleague or other professional begins service, if referring a client to a colleague or other professional.
II.31 Give reasonable notice and be reasonably assured that discontinuation will cause no harm to the client, before discontinuing services.|
II.32 Screen appropriate research participants and select those not likely to be harmed, if risk or harm to some research participants is possible.
II.33 Act to minimize the impact of their research activities on research participants' personality or their physical or mental integrity.
II.34 Terminate an activity when it is clear that the activity is more harmful than beneficial, or when the activity is no longer needed.
II.35 Refuse to help individuals, families, groups, or communities to carry out or submit to activities which, according to current knowledge and/or legal and professional guidelines, would cause serious physical or psychological harm to themselves or others.
II.36 Do everything reasonably possible to stop or offset the consequences of actions by others when these actions are likely to cause serious physical harm or death. This may include reporting to appropriate authorities (e.g., the police) or an intended victim, and would be done even when a confidential relationship is involved. (See Standard I.40)
II.37 Act to stop or offset the consequences of clearly harmful activities being carried out by another psychologist or member of another discipline, when these activities have come to their attention outside of a confidential client relationship with that psychologist or member of another discipline. Depending on the nature of the harmful activities, this may include talking informally with the psychologist or member of the other discipline, obtaining objective information and, if possible, the assurance that the harm will discontinue and be corrected. However, if the harm is serious and/or continues to persist, the situation would be reported to the appropriate regulatory body, authority, and/or committee for action.
II.38 Not place an individual, group, family, or community needing service at a serious disadvantage by offering them no service over an unreasonable period of time in order to fulfill the conditions of a control condition in a research study and, where resources allow, offer such person(s) the service found to be most effective after the research study is completed.
II.39 Debrief research participants in such a way that any harm caused can be discerned, and act to correct any resultant harm.
Care of animals
II.40 Not use animals in their research unless there is a reasonable expectation that the research will increase understanding of the structures and processes underlying behaviour, or increase understanding of the particular animal species used in the study, or result eventually in benefits to the health and welfare of humans or other animals.
II.41 Use a procedure subjecting animals to pain, stress, or privation only if an alternative procedure is unavailable and the goal is justified by its prospective scientific, educational, or applied value.
II.42 Make every effort to minimize the discomfort, illness, and pain of animals. This would include performing surgical procedures only under appropriate anaesthesia, using techniques to avoid infection and minimize pain during and after surgery and, if disposing of experimental animals is carried out at the termination of the study, doing so in a humane way.
II.43 Use animals in classroom demonstrations only if the instructional objectives cannot be achieved through the use of video-tapes, films, or other methods, and if the type of demonstration is warranted by the anticipated instructional gain.
II.44 Encourage others, if appropriate, to care responsibly.
II.45 Assume overall responsibility for the scientific and professional activities of their assistants, students, supervisees, and employees with regard to the Principle of Responsible Caring, all of whom, however, incur similar obligations.
Principle III: Integrity in Relationships
The relationships formed by psychologists in the course of their work embody explicit and implicit mutual expectations of integrity that are vital to the advancement of scientific knowledge and to the maintenance of public confidence in the discipline of psychology. These expectations include: accuracy and honesty; straight-forwardness and openness; the maximization of objectivity and minimization of bias; and, avoidance of conflicts of interest. Psychologists have a responsibility to meet these expectations and to encourage reciprocity.
In addition to accuracy, honesty, and the obvious prohibitions of fraud or misrepresentation, meeting expectations of integrity is enhanced by self-knowledge and the use of critical analysis. Although it can be argued that science is value-free, scientists are not. Personal values can affect the questions psychologists ask, how they ask those questions, what assumptions they make, their selection of methods, what they observe and what they fail to observe, and how they interpret their data.
Psychologists are not expected to be value-free in conducting their activities. However, they are expected to understand how their backgrounds and values interact with their activities, to be open and honest about the influence of such factors, and to be as objective and unbiased as possible under the circumstances.
The values of openness and straightforwardness exist within the context of Respect for the Dignity of Persons (Principle I) and Responsible Caring (Principle II). As such, there will be circumstances in which openness and straightforwardness will need to be tempered. Full disclosure may not be needed or desired by others and, in some circumstances, may be a risk to their dignity or well-being. In such circumstances, however, psychologists have a responsibility to ensure that their decision not to be fully open or straightforward is justified by higher-order values.
Of special concern to psychologists is the use of deception in research, or the use of any technique (e.g., temporary withholding of information) which could be interpreted as deception by research participants or clients. Although research which uses such techniques can lead to knowledge which is beneficial, and service which uses techniques which might be interpreted as deception can lead to beneficial changes for the client, such benefits must be weighed against the individual's right to self-determination and the importance of public and individual trust in psychology. Psychologists have a serious obligation never to use deception in service activities, and to avoid as much as possible the use of deception in research or the use of any technique which could be interpreted as deception in either research or service activities. They also have a serious obligation to consider the need for, the possible consequences of, and their responsibility to correct any resulting mistrust or other harmful effects from the use of such techniques.
As public trust in the discipline of psychology includes trusting that psychologists will act in the best interests of members of the public, situations which present real or potential conflicts of interest are of concern to psychologists. Conflict-of-interest situations can readily motivate psychologists to act in ways which meet their own personal, political, or business interests at the expense of the best interests of members of the public. Although avoidance of all situations which present a conflict of interest is not possible, it is the responsibility of psychologists to avoid as many as possible and, when such situations cannot be avoided, to ensure that the best interests of members of the public are protected.
Integrity in relationships implies that psychologists, as a matter of honesty, have a responsibility to maintain competence in any speciality area for which they declare competence, whether or not they are currently practising in that area. It also requires that psychologists, in as much as they present themselves as members and representatives of a specific discipline, have a responsibility to actively rely on and be guided by that discipline and its guidelines and requirements.
In adhering to the Principle of Integrity in Relationships, psychologists would:
III.1 Not participate in, condone, or be associated with dishonesty, fraud, or misrepresentation.
III.2 Accurately represent their own and their associates' qualifications, education, experience, competence, and affiliations, in all spoken, written, or printed communications, being careful not to use descriptions or information which could be misinterpreted.
III.3 Carefully protect their own and their associates' credentials from being misrepresented by others, and act quickly to correct any such misrepresentation.
III.4 Maintain competence in their declared area(s) of psychological competence, as well as in their current area(s) of activity. (See Standard II.9.)
III.5 Accurately represent their activities, functions, and likely or actual outcomes of their work, in all spoken, written, or printed communication. This includes, but is not limited to: advertisements of services; course and workshop descriptions; academic grading requirements; and, research reports.
III.6 Ensure that their activities, functions, and likely or actual outcomes of their activities are not misrepresented by others, and act quickly to correct any such misrepresentation.
III.7 Take credit only for the work and ideas that they have actually done or generated, and give credit for work done or ideas contributed by others (including students) in proportion to their contribution.
III.8 Acknowledge the limitations of their knowledge, methods, findings, interventions, and views.
III.9 Not suppress disconfirming evidence of their findings and views, acknowledging alternative hypotheses and explanations.
Objectivity/lack of bias
III.10 Evaluate how their personal experiences, attitudes, values, social context, individual of differences, and stresses influence their activities and thinking, integrating this awareness into all attempts to be objective and unbiased in their research, service and other activities.
III.11 Take care to communicate as completely and objectively as possible, and to clearly differentiate facts, opinions, theories, hypotheses, and ideas, if communicating their knowledge, findings, and views.
III.12 Present instructional information accurately, avoiding bias in the selection and presentation of information, and publicly acknowledge any personal values or bias which influence the selection and presentation of information.
III.13 Act quickly to clarify any distortion by a sponsor, client, or other persons, of the findings of their research.
III.14 Be clear and straightforward about all information needed to establish informed consent or any other valid written or unwritten agreement (for example: fees; concerns; mutual responsibilities; ethical responsibilities of psychologists; purpose and nature of the relationship; alternatives; likely experiences; possible conflicts; possible outcomes; and, expectations for processing, using, and sharing any information generated).
III.15 Provide suitable information about the results of assessments, evaluations, or research findings to the persons involved, if appropriate and/or if asked. This information would be communicated in understandable language.
III.16 Fully explain reasons for their actions to persons who have been affected by their actions, if appropriate and/or if asked.
III.17 Honour all promises and commitments included in any written or verbal agreement unless serious and unexpected circumstances (e.g., illness) intervene. If such circumstances occur, then the psychologist would make a full and honest explanation to other parties involved.
III.18 Make clear whether they are acting as private citizens, as members of specific organizations or groups, or as representatives of the discipline of psychology, when making statements or when involved in public activities.
III.19 Conduct research in a way that is consistent with a commitment to honest, open inquiry, and to clear communication of any research aims, sponsorship, social context, personal values, or financial interests that may affect or appear to affect their research.
III.20 Submit their research, in some accurate form and within the limits of confidentiality, to independent colleagues with expertise in the research area, for their comments and evaluations.
III.21 Encourage the free exchange of ideas between themselves and their students.
III.22 Make no attempt to conceal the status of a trainee.
Avoidance of deception
III.23 Not engage in deception in any service activity.
III.24 Not engage in deception in research or the use of techniques which might be interpreted as deception, in research or service activities, if there are alternative procedures available and/or if the negative effects cannot be predicted or offset.
III.25 Not engage in deception in research or the use of techniques which might be interpreted as deception in research or service activities, if it would interfere with the individual's understanding of facts which clearly might influence a decision to give informed consent.
III.26 Use the minimum necessary deception in research or techniques which might be interpreted as deception in research, or service activities.
III.27 Provide research participants, during debriefing, with a clarification of the nature of the study, if deception or the use of techniques which could be interpreted as deception has occurred. In such circumstances, psychologists would seek to remove any misconceptions which might have arisen and to re-establish any trust which might have been lost, assuring the participant during debriefing that the real or apparent deception was neither arbitrary nor capricious. (Also, see Standard II.22.)
III.28 Act to re-establish with clients any trust which might have been lost due to the use of techniques which might be interpreted as deception.
III.29 Seek an independent and adequate ethical review of the risks to public or individual trust and of safeguards to protect such trust for any research which uses deception or techniques which might be interpreted as deception, before making a decision to proceed
Avoidance of conflict of interest
III.30 Not exploit any relationship established as a psychologist to further personal, political, or business interests at the expense of the best interests of their clients, research participants, students, employers, or others. This includes, but is not limited to: soliciting clients of one's employing agency for private practice; taking advantage of trust or dependency to engage in sexual activities or to frighten clients into receiving services; appropriating student's ideas, research or work; using the resources of one's employing institution for purposes not agreed to; securing or accepting significant financial or material benefit for activities which are already awarded by salary or other compensation; and, prejudicing others against a colleague for reasons of personal gain.
III.31 Not offer rewards sufficient to motivate an individual or group to participate in an activity that has possible or known risks to themselves or others. (See Standards I.20; I.21; II.2; and, II.44.)
III.32 Avoid dual relationships (e.g.. with students, employees, or clients) and other situations which might present a conflict of interest or which might reduce their ability to be objective and unbiased in their determinations of what might be in the best interests of others.
III.33 Inform all parties, if a real or potential conflict of interest arises, of the need to resolve the situation in a manner that is consistent with Respect for the Dignity of Persons (Principle I) and Responsible Caring (Principle II), and take all reasonable steps to resolve the issue in such a manner.
Reliance on the discipline
III.34 Familiarize themselves with their discipline's rules and regulations, and abide by them, unless abiding by them would be seriously detrimental to the rights or well-being of others as demonstrated in the Principles of Respect for the Dignity of Persons or Responsible Caring. (See Standard IV.16 for guidelines regarding the resolution of such conflicts.)
III.35 Familiarize themselves with and demonstrate a commitment to maintaining the standards of their discipline.
III.36 Seek consultation from colleagues and/or appropriate groups and committees, and give due regard to their advice in arriving at a responsible decision, if faced with difficult situations.
III.37 Encourage others, if appropriate, to relate with integrity.
III.38 Assume overall responsibility for the scientific and professional activities of their assistants, students, supervisers, and employees with regard to the Principle of Integrity in Relationships, all of whom, however, incur similar obligations.
Principle IV: Responsibility to Society
Psychology functions as a discipline within the context of human society.(2)Psychologists, both in their work and as private citizens, have responsibilities to the societies in which they live and work, such as the neighbourhood or city, and to the welfare of all human beings in those societies.
Two of the legitimate expectations of psychology as a science and a profession are that it will increase knowledge and that it will conduct its affairs in such ways that it will promote the welfare of all human beings.
In the context of society, the above expectations imply that scientific freedom will be balanced by scientific responsibility; that is, psychologists will actively increase knowledge only through the use of activities and methods that are consistent with ethical requirements, and be willing to demonstrate that such requirements have been met.
The expectations also imply that psychologists will do whatever they can to ensure that psychological knowledge, when used in the development of social structures and policies, will be used for beneficial purposes, and that the discipline's own structures and policies will support those beneficial purposes. Within the context of this document, social structures and policies which have beneficial purposes are defined as those which more readily support and reflect respect for the dignity of persons, responsible caring, integrity in relationships, and responsibility to society. If psychological knowledge or structures are used against these purposes, psychologists have an ethical responsibility to try to draw attention to and correct the misuse. Although this is a collective responsibility, those psychologists having direct involvement in the structures of the discipline, in social development, and/or in the theoretical or research data base that is being used (e.g., through research, expert testimony, or policy advice) have the greatest responsibility to act. Other psychologists must decide for themselves the most appropriate and beneficial use of their time and talents to help meet this collective responsibility.
In carrying out their work, psychologists acknowledge that many social structures have evolved slowly over time in response to human need, are valued by society, and are primarily beneficial. In such circumstances, psychologists convey respect for these social structures and avoid unwarranted or unnecessary disruption. Suggestions for and action toward changes or enhancement of such structures are carried out only through processes which seek to achieve a consensus within society through democratic means.
On the other hand, if structures or policies seriously ignore or oppose the principles of respect for the dignity of the person, responsible caring, integrity in relationships, or responsibility to society, psychologists involved have a responsibility to be critical and advocate for change to occur as quickly as possible.
In order to be responsible to society and to contribute constructively to its ongoing evolution, psychologists need to be self-reflective about the place of the discipline of psychology in society. They need to engage in even-tempered observation and interpretation of the effects of societal structures and policies, and their process of change, developing the ability of psychologists to increase the beneficial use of psychological knowledge and structures, and avoid their misuse. The discipline needs to be willing to set high standards for its members, to do what it can to assure that such standards are met, and to support its members in their attempts to maintain the standards. Once again, individual psychologists must decide for themselves the most appropriate and beneficial use of their time and talents in helping to meet these collective responsibilities.
Footnote 2: Society is used here in the broad sense of a body of individuals living as members of one or more human communities, rather than in the limited sense of state or government.
In adhering to the Principle of Responsibility to Society, psychologists would:
Development of knowledge
IV.1 Contribute to the discipline of psychology and of society's understanding of itself and human beings generally, through a free pursuit and sharing of knowledge, unless such activity conflicts with other basic ethical requirements.
IV.2 Keep informed of progress in their area(s) of psychological activity, take this progress into account in their work, and try to make their own contributions to this progress.
IV.3 Participate in and contribute to continuing education and the professional and scientific growth of self and colleagues.
IV.4 Assist in the development of those who enter the discipline of psychology by helping them to acquire a full understanding of the ethics, responsibilities, and needed competencies of their chosen area(s), including an understanding of critical analysis and of the variations, uses, and possible misuses of the scientific paradigm.
IV.5 Participate in the process of critical self-evaluation of the discipline's place in society and in the development and implementation of structures and procedures which help the discipline to contribute to beneficial societal functioning and changes.
IV.6 Engage in regular monitoring, assessment, and reporting (e.g., through peer review, and in program reviews, case management reviews, and reports of one's own research) of their ethical practices and safeguards.
IV.7 Help develop, promote, and participate in accountability processes and procedures related to their work.
IV.8 Uphold the discipline's responsibility to society by promoting and maintaining the highest standards of the discipline.
IV.9 Protect the skills, knowledge, and interpretations of psychology from being misused, used incompetently, or made useless (e.g., loss of security of assessment techniques) by others.
IV.10 Contribute to the general welfare of society (e.g., improving accessibility of services, regardless of ability to pay) and/or to the general welfare of their discipline by offering a portion of their time to work for which they receive little or no financial return.
IV.11 Uphold the discipline's responsibility to society by bringing incompetent or unethical behaviour, including misuses of psychological knowledge and techniques, to the attention of ap- propriate regulatory bodies, authorities, and/or committees, in a manner consistent with the ethical principles of this Code, if informal resolution or correction of the situation is not appropriate or possible.
IV.12 Only enter into agreements or contracts which allow them to act in accordance with the ethical principles and standards of this Code.
Respect for society
IV.13 Acquire an adequate knowledge of the culture, social structure, and customs of a community before beginning any major work there.
IV.14 Convey respect for and abide by prevailing community mores, social customs, and cultural expectations in their scientific and professional activities, provided that this does not contravene any of the ethical principles of this Code.
IV.15 Abide by the laws of the society in which they work. If those laws seriously conflict with the ethical principles contained herein, psychologists would do whatever they could to uphold the ethical principles. If upholding the ethical principles could result in serious personal consequences (e.g., jail or physical harm), decision for final action would be considered a matter of personal conscience.
IV.16 Consult with colleagues, if faced with an apparent conflict between keeping a law and following an ethical principle, unless in an emergency, and seek consensus as to the most ethical course of action and the most responsible, knowledgeable, effective, and respectful way to carry it out.
Development of society
IV.17 Act to change those aspects of the discipline of psychology which detract from beneficial societal changes, where appropriate and possible.
IV.18 Be sensitive to the needs, current issues, and problems of society, if determining research questions to be asked, services to be developed, information to be collected, or the interpretation of results or findings.
IV.19 Be especially careful to keep well informed through relevant reading, peer consultation and continuing education, if their work is related to societal issues.
IV.20 Speak out, in a manner consistent with the four principles of this Code, when they possess expert knowledge that bears on important societal issues being studied or discussed.
IV.21 Provide thorough discussion of the limits of their data, if their work touches on social policy and structure.
IV.22 Make themselves aware of the current social and political climate and of previous and possible future societal misuses of psychological knowledge, and exercise due discretion in communicating psychological information (e.g., research results, theoretical knowledge) in order to discourage any further misuse.
IV.23 Exercise particular care when reporting the results of any work regarding vulnerable groups, ensuring that results are not likely to be misinterpreted or misused in the development of social policy, attitudes, and practices (e.g., encouraging manipulation of vulnerable persons or reinforcing discrimination against any specific population).
IV.24 Not contribute to nor engage in research or any other activity which promotes or is intended for use in the torture of persons, the development of prohibited weapons, destruction of the environment, or any other act which contravenes international law.
IV.25 Provide the public with any psychological knowledge relevant to the public's informed participation in the shaping of social policies and structures, if involved in public policy issues.
IV.26 Speak out and/or act, in a manner consistent with the four principles of this Code, if the policies, practices or regulations of the social structure within which they work seriously ignore or oppose any of the principles of this Code.
IV.27 Encourage others, if appropriate, to exercise responsibility to society.
IV.28 Assume overall responsibility for the scientific and professional activities of their assistants, students, supervisees, and employees with regard to the Principle of Responsibility to Society, all of whom, however, incur similar obligations.
Copyright Canadian Psychological Association (1995)