Ethics for Forensic Psychology, Uncategorized

Forensic Psychology Codes of Conduct

The APA Ethics Code is a set of principles used as a guide to direct the practitioner toward the highest ideals of psychology (“American Psychological Association”, 2016).  The Ethical standards set forth by the APA were developed with the intention of providing a common set of values upon which psychologist’s work is created, as well as general principles and rules that cover most situations a psychologist may encounter (“American Psychological Association”, 2016).  The expectation is for psychologists to respect and protect human civil rights by practicing according to the APA Ethics Code and not to participate in unethical practices (“American Psychological Association”, 2016).  The Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychology aim to improve the quality of service, enhance development and practice, encourage high level of professionalism, and encourage practitioners to conduct themselves in a professional manner and acknowledge and respect individual rights (“American Psychological Association”, 2016).  The guidelines are not dependent on a specific practice, rather on the case at hand and apply in all matters regarding educational system, judicial system, and administrative systems (“American Psychological Association”, 2016).  However, practice is not always forensic if the individual is ordered to undergo treatment or assessment via judicial system (“American Psychological Association”, 2016).  For instance, treatment ordered due to divorce or parent separation or psychological testimony based on provision of treatment and void of legal psych-opinion are not considered forensic practices (“American Psychological Association”, 2016).

The APA Ethics Code sets the standard of practice and holds consequence if not followed (“Specialty guidelines for forensic psychology,” 2013).  The guidelines on the other hand are intended to provide further guidance and are not mandatory (“Specialty guidelines for forensic psychology,” 2013).  The Guidelines use modifiers to suggest discretion and allow professional judgment for forensic practitioners (“Specialty guidelines for forensic psychology,” 2013).

The five general principals specified in the APA Ethics Code are as follows:

  1. Beneficence and nonmaleficence – work independent of bias, prejudice, and malignant affiliations and what they do impacts the lives of others.  Equally important is having the understanding bias negatively impacts the public (“American Psychological Association”, 2016).
  2. Fidelity and responsibility – the professional takes responsibility for their work and develops relationships of trust (“American Psychological Association”, 2016).
  3. Integrity – Deception should be avoided. Research should be honest and reliable and void of deception to gather desired results (“American Psychological Association”, 2016).
  4. Justice – equal and fair treatment and practices (“American Psychological Association”, 2016).
  5. Respect for people’s rights and dignity – consent for service must be obtained and all people have a right to privacy and confidentiality. Additionally, psychologists must be aware of differences in cultural values and beliefs, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and other varying degrees of diversity (“American Psychological Association”, 2016).

In the event that the guidelines are not adhered to, injustice may be served as well as causing harm to the individual receiving services.  Additionally, deviating from the Code of Ethics jeopardizes the interpersonal relationship which can hinder treatment.  In the event that the client is exposed by name, privacy rights have been broken as well a breach of confidentiality, and integrity of the professional.  Ultimately, the practitioner is eligible for sanction at the breach of the Ethics Code.



American Psychological Association. (2016). Retrieved from

American Psychological Association. (2016). Retrieved from

Specialty guidelines for forensic psychology. (2013, January). American Psychologist, 68(1), 7-19. Retrieved from


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s