APA Code of Ethics

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The American Psychological Association (APA) is a scientific and professional organization that represents psychology in the United States of America. Part of APA's mission is to improve the usefulness and qualifications of psychologists. This is done by the establishment of ethical guidelines that all psychologists in America must adhere to when making ethical decisions in practice, education and research.

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The code of ethics developed by the APA are specific to the various areas of psychology though there are some recurring themes. The code of ethics is all formulated for the benefit of the clients. Each code ensures that the psychology professional looks out for the welfare of the clients. Another recurring theme is that the code of ethics ensure that the professionals act responsibly and ethically. There are guidelines for the professionals conduct with clients and with animals and humans when carrying out research which all ensure that the professionals stick to a code of conduct that is considered responsible and ethical. The code of ethics also ensures that the professionals operate within their scope of competence. The licenses are only issued to those professionals who are competent. The code of ethics also ensures that the professionals avoid discrimination of any sort while dealing with clients. They ensure that the psychologists respect the dignity and worth of all individuals that come into their care. The guidelines also protect the privacy and confidentiality of the clients and ensures that their problems are not exposed to the public. The guidelines also ensure that the clients are not harmed, especially those who engage in research. Lastly, the code of ethics also uphold the integrity of the psychology profession and ensure that the practice is done with the utmost competence (Corey & Callanan, 2015).

Adhering to ethical guidelines is important for psychologists because they are able to expand their awareness and clarify their values as psychologists. Guidelines educate the professionals about sound ethical conduct and how to deal with clients. The guidelines also enable practitioners to interpret and apply the codes prescribed. Proper interpretation and application of the codes eventually serve as catalysts that improve the psychologists practice. The codes of conduct also act as mechanisms for professional accountability. The practitioners are able to give their clients the best services while at the same time avoiding malpractice suits and safeguarding their careers (Corey & Callanan, 2015).

The APA provides guidelines for the provision of psychological services to ethnic, linguistic and culturally diverse populations. The guidelines, which only provide suggestions to practitioners, indicate that the practitioners are to provide information in writing as well as orally and in a language the client understands. The psychologists are to undergo training and educative seminars that educate them on how to deal with multicultural populations. The psychologists are also to consult with colleagues in case they can't handle. They also enable the practitioners to avoid prejudices and work with clients based on their cultural beliefs and practices (APA, 1992).

The APA guidelines need to be reviewed and updated constantly in response to the changing times. Also, control measures that limit funding to minority groups should be discouraged to enable all special populations to benefit. The penalties levied against the practitioners who treat clients with a bias should be stricter and higher. Lastly, no culture or special group should be trivialized or overlooked.

On the "Ethical Dilemma," being truthful about the real purpose of the study would result in untruthful responses from the participants. Some participants will tend to give responses that are expected as opposed to being honest. Also, deception leads to mistrust towards the researcher even after they inform the participants of the deception. Deception creates a negative attitude towards behavioral research and the participants would be unwilling to participate in the future or they would be unenthusiastic when participating if they found out about the deception while participating in the research. Finally, deception also has negative effects on the researchers since it creates a distance between the researchers and the participants being studied and it also can produce cynicism (Bersoff, 2003).

The force of moral obligation is seen to be balanced by the reality of the good end achieved. This means that if deception was used to get the necessary data, and if the desired results would not have been achieved any other way, then the deception would be justified. The end justifies the means only if the means used were the only available means. It is, therefore, ethical to use deceptive means in some instances although the participants should be adequately debriefed.

In conclusion, APA ethical guidelines provide a uniform code of conduct among psychology practitioners in various fields. They not only protect the interests of the client, they also ensure that the practitioners act responsibly and ethically. Acting ethically sometimes may mean using deceptive means to achieve a result. However, this should only be done in special circumstances and participants debriefed.


American Psychological Association. (1992). Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. Retrieved on March 30, 2016 from http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/code-1992.aspxBersoff, D.N. (2003). Ethical Conflicts in Psychology (3rd ed.). Wasington DC: American Psychlogical Association.

Corey, G., Corey, M. S., Corey, C., Callanan, P.(2015). Issues and Ethics in the Hepling Professions. Brook/ Cole Cengage Learning.

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