Ethical Practice and Legislation Codes of Ethics
Ethics discusses the norms by which social relation; in family, profession, nation and the international society are regulated and hence helps the science of law, medicine and sociology. Ethics permeates every human transactions and therefore worthy of study and research as a science.
The American Psychological Association Code of Ethical practice fulfills its mandate in a number of ways, which include stipulating general principles. General principles are ideal in nature for a purpose. They inculcate in the mind of the Psychologist the aspiration to attain and live to the standard. These principles call the practitioner into practice of sound ethics in his/her professional. During training, virtues pointed out in the general principles are implanted in the student. These virtues include integrity, fidelity, confidentiality, respect of individual rights, and dignity. Psychologist practitioners conduct researches. The researches conducted develop their skills hence improving their competency and professional skills. During research, specific regulations are applied to safeguard ethical practice. Researches are conducted following set research protocols. “When psychologists conduct research or provide assessment, therapy, counseling, or consulting services in person or via electronic transmission or other forms of communication, they obtain the informed consent of the individual or individuals using language that is reasonably understandable….”(APA Code of Conduct, 2010, 6.1) This transparent way of conducting research enhances professional accountability. The research findings are well documented and stored in the APA database. This remains accessible to public. APA Ethical Code reserves the right to keep the records of a client to the psychologist handling the case. “Psychologists create, and to the extent the records are under their control, maintain, disseminate, store, retain, and dispose of records and data relating to their professional and scientific work in order to facilitate provision of services later by them or by other professionals…”(APA Code of Conduct, 2010, 2.1). This aids the psychologist for referral or in any future complain initiated by the client.
Ethics and law have a direct link. Ethics is ideal in nature and state what ought to be done. Law defines the least expected by the society and government reinforces this minimum expectation. Ethical code do not guarantee adherence. Law controls adherence to the Ethical Codes. If there is a bleach of Ethical code, law stipulates the deterrent punishment. During research, consent is a requirement. The law defines what consent is and who can give a legitimate consent. The extent to which law enforces Ethical code can be illustrated through a number of cases. The cases of Joblonski vs. the United States demonstrate negligence in acquiring sufficient medical history of a patient. The case was initiated by Meghan Joblonski after his mother was brutally murdered by his brother Philip Joblonski. Medics who were treating Philip were found culpable of negligence to enquire his medical history by Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (Laughran& Bakken, 1984, p. 24). In this case, medics failed to warn Melinda Kimball and his son Meghan that Philip was a potential threat to their lives hence should have hospitalized him.
The case of Hedlund vs. Superior Court illustrates how psychological assistant Bonnie Hedlund failed to exercise the duty of reasonable care. In this case, Stephen who is LaNita’s husband had disclosed to Bonnie his intentions to hurt LaNita, which he later did. The California Supreme Court found Hedlund responsible of denying LaNita and her child a warning that their lives were in danger (Laughran & Bakken, 1984, p. 15). Though the Ethical Code call fidelity and confidentiality, the law demarcate to which extent is to be observed. Thompson vs. Alameda is another insightful case. The county of Alameda was accused by Thomson of releasing a youth with a history of brutal and violent inclinations to the local community without informing the local community. This youth later killed a five years boy. The Supreme Court of California ruled that the county was not culpable of the death of the boy. This was because there was no reasonable identification of victims or victim.
Ethical codes are important to any professional. However, they do not offer solutions to every case. The practitioner is therefore called to practice diligence, prudence, and critical thinking in his/her practice. “The ability to think critically and apply general Ethical principles to specific situations is vital. These guidelines do not deal with every situation nor do they answer every question. At times, interpretation and application of the codes of ethics in specific cases is difficult. Thus, practitioners possess some freedom to exercise professional judgment. This freedom must be well informed by law to avoid conflict and bleach of either” (Corey, Corey & Callanan, 2011, p. 89) this affects in a fundamental way of how professionals conduct themselves now and in future.
As we celebrate Ethical codes this paper invites all professional therapist to employ due prudence in application of the codes. Integration of prudence and knowledge of the Ethical codes transform grief and anxiety of the public to hope and trust. Ethical professional practice enhances public trust in every profession and psychology is not an exception. Integration of law in ethics facilitates in formation of responsible practitioner. Strict Ethical code ensures competence and diligence in professional practice. This is vital to any profession. The law and ethics maintains sobriety and sanity in their practice.
American Psychological Association. (2010). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct. American Psychologist, 21 (12), 36-45
Corey, G., Corey, M., & Callanan, P. (2011). Issues and ethics in the helping professions. Pacific Grove, Calif.: Brooks/Cole Pub.
Laughran, W., & Bakken, G. M. (1984). The psychotherapist’s responsibility toward third parties under current California law. Western State University Law Review, 12(1),