Ethical Guidelines

Assignment 2: Ethical Guidelines

In this assignment, you will identify the similarities and differences between the two sets of ethical guidelines that pertain to forensic psychology professionals—Ethical Principles of Psychologists (APA Ethics Code) and Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychology. You will understand the expectations for ethical behavior in the field and will be able to identify breaches of the guiding principles of ethical conduct.


In a minimum of 300 words, respond to the following:

Compare and contrast the APA’s Ethical Principles of Psychologists (APA Ethics Code) and Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychology.

Provide examples of what would constitute a breach of each of the five general principles specified in the APA Ethics Code.

The American Psychological Association’s (APA) Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct was developed to govern psychologists conduct and behavior and to give them guiding principles to ensure that they do their job with professionalism and to the best of their ability. They were developed to help both the psychologists as well as protect clientele. According to the American Psychological Associations introduction to the Code of Ethics, “this Ethics Code applies only to psychologists’ activities that are part of their scientific, educational or professional roles as psychologists” (, 2016). There are several areas that are covered by this ethical code including but not limited to teaching, counseling, research, policy development, public services, and administration. The APA may issue sanctions to members that violate these ethical principles. There are five general principles which are:

Beneficence and Nonmaleficence: Psychologists strive to benefit clients and take actions to ensure they do no harm. A violation of this would be misusing their influence to gain financial, political, or personal gains.

Fidelity and Responsibility: Psychologists strive to develop trusting relationships with those they work with and are aware of both their professional and scientific responsibilities to society. An example of a violation would be not taking responsibility for your actions or taking advantage of a conflict of interest and exploiting the trust of the individual’s in which it was gained from.

Integrity: Psychologists should intend to promote truthfulness, accuracy, and honesty in everything they do. A violation of this principle would be stealing, falsifying documents, or engaging in fraud.

Justice: Psychologists strive to implement fairness and justice and take action to ensure they do not go beyond the bounds of their competence, or insert any personal biases in their practices. A violation of this would be conducting counseling in areas in which the psychologist is not trained.

Respect for People’s Rights and Dignity: Psychologists respect the rights and dignity of all people in regards to their privacy, self-determination, and confidentiality and respect their differences such as religion, role differences, cultures, and socioeconomic statuses. A violation of this principle would be imposing the psychologist’s views of religion upon their clients, disregarding a client’s preferences for treatment, or displaying biases such as not working with a certain population due to personal beliefs such as refusing to work with a race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.

The American Psychological Association’s Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychology are intended to govern professionals that deal in matters of law and psychology. They developed a separate division devoted to governing forensic psychology professionals as they the practice of forensic psychology operates in different ways that that of traditional psychology practice areas (American Psychological Association, 2016). As this field is relatively new and continuing change occurs, the APA has continued to govern and revise these guidelines. The goals of these guidelines “are to improve the quality of forensic psychological services, enhance the practice and facilitate the systematic development of forensic psychology; encourage a high level of quality in professional practice; and encourage forensic practitioners to acknowledge and respect the rights of those they serve” (, 2016). These guidelines govern individuals who are “practicing psychology applying the scientific, technical, or specialized knowledge of psychology to the law to assist in addressing legal, contractual, and administrative matters” (, 2016).

Many of the guidelines that govern both psychology professionals and forensic psychologists are the same such as integrity, being impartial and fair, and avoiding conflicts of interest. While they are named and/or termed differently, many of the principles are the same. Each group is governed by the same rules including but not limited to confidentiality, informed consent, competence, research and publication, and record keeping and fees. They are different in that the specialty guidelines were developed specifically for those professionals dealing in matters of law and psychology whereas the code of ethics were developed for psychology professional’s “activities that are a part of their scientific, educational or professional roles as psychologist” (, 2016).

References (2016). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct. Retrieved from (2016). Specialty guidelines for forensic psychology. Retrieved from