Ethics in Psychology

As a clinical psychologist, even though I’m not currently registered in Alberta yet, I work and live by the Canadian Psychological Association Code of Ethics.

There are four guiding principles.

I. Respect for the Dignity of Persons

II. Responsible Caring

III. Integrity in Relationships

IV. Responsibility to Society.

These principles seem to be more relevant than ever these days, but the one I’ve been thinking most about is the fourth.  People probably understand a psychologists responsibility to their clients, but may not realize our responsibility extends beyond our own clients to society as a whole.

The CPA code of ethics states “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” and goes on to add “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.”

As a psychologist I cannot stand by as the world begins discount the dignity of all persons and I must do what I can to promote the welfare of ALL human beings – not just those of certain races, religions, sex or sexual orientation.  I will not stand by as a government dismantles systems and processes for protecting the environment for future generations. I will not stand by as world leaders break down laws and regulations designed to prevent corruption and fraud thereby making it easier to exploit vulnerable people.

I don’t always know what to do to help this situation, but I will do everything I can think of. I will try.