Ethical Issues, Codes, and Guidelines

The Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct does not only apply to professionals. According to the Amendments in the Code of Conduct, it states the ethics code applies to “psychologists activities that are part of their scientific, educational, or professional roles” (Para. 2).  This was put into place so that professionals are able to abide by the code. There are several examples of ethical dilemmas that pertain to the principles, standards, and guidelines.

1.) Example Conflict –

A forensic psychologist has endured another day of sessions. The psychologist has been helping a client long term come over some of her issues in regards to her abuse. The psychologist comes home to her husband and gives a breakdown of what her client told her.

This has a privacy and confidentially problem. This situation would fall under the standard of Privacy and Confidentiality and the 4.01 Maintaining Confidentiality guideline. As a professional she has an obligation to keep patient/client information private. This is not only breaking the ethical code, but law enforcement could come into play as well. By revealing this information to her husband, there has been a breach of trust and integrity by the professional (Ethical Principles Of Psychologists And Code Of Conduct 2010 Amendments, 2012). One way that the psychologist could resolve this is not to speak to her husband about clients, which is a given. If the professional is having a hard time, it might be in her best interest to seek help and not see any clients until she has this under control.

2.) Example Conflict-

A military psychologist has helped a Marine Veteran overcome some of his PTSD problems. The solider developed PTSD after returning from his 3rd deployment to Iraq. The veteran was happy and relieved that his problems were becoming easier to cope with that he bought his psychologist a gift as a thank you. The psychologist accepted as they both have a strong client/professional relationship.

This falls under code 6.05 Barter with Clients/Patients under the Standard of Record Keeping Fees. This code retrains the professional from seeking or accepting goods and or services from a client or patient (Ethical Principles Of Psychologists And Code Of Conduct 2010 Amendments, 2012). According to Ethical Principles Of Psychologists And Code Of Conduct 2010 Amendments (2012), “psychologists may barter only if it is not clinically contraindicated or non exploitative (pg. 11).  This would be an ethical breach of code because the services were already rendered and the psychologist accepted the gift. The professional could have avoided breach of ethics by not accepting the gift. This can put everything at risk. This professional should seek continuing education on standards and ethics and refrain from seeing clients until this has been completed.


The APA has put the ethics code into place so that psychologists have guidance for his or her professional standards. The standards are what represent the many ethical codes. There are ten standards total that make up the Ethical Principles of Psychologists. They are the following: Resolving Ethical Issues, Competence, Human Relations, Privacy and Confidentiality, Advertising and Other Public Statements, Record Keeping and Fees, Education and Training, Research and Publication, Assessment, and Therapy (Hanson & Kerkhoff, 2011).




Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct 2010 Amendments. (2012). Retrieved from

Hanson, S. L., & Kerkhoff, T. R. (2011, August). The APA Ethical Principles as a foundational competency: Application to rehabilitation psychology. US: American Psychological Association, 56(3), . doi:10.1037/a0024206


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