Compare and Contrast Three Codes

1 January 2017

The increase in the number of practicing psychologists and the fields in which they are employed worldwide necessitates the assurance that the highest ethical standards are abided by to protect the welfare of the client, student, organisation and profession. One definition of professional ethics states that it concerns one’s conduct of behaviour and practice when carrying out professional work. Such work may include consulting, researching, teaching and writing. The institutionalisation of Codes of Conduct and Codes of Practice is common with many professional bodies for their members to adhere to.

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A professional possesses special knowledge and expertise in his particular field and as a result they are expected to make informed ethical decisions. With knowledge comes power and responsibility and as a result many professionals are expected to abide by their respective professional body’s code of ethics. A code of ethics simply outlines the responsibilities and ideals of a profession. These codes not only seek to protect the client but also aim to preserve the integrity profession.

Failure to abide by these codes of ethics may result in disciplinary action (banning or license suspension) from the governing professional body. Whilst having an established code of ethics aids in the distinction between right and wrong, each situation which professionals may encounter will be unique. The professional’s interpretation of the code of ethics is what may be the impetus for the ethical decision made. Sometimes the ethical code outlined may not be applicable, feasible or even culturally relevant.

Therefore the reality of the situation is that even though codes of ethics seek to establish universal standards which professionals should abide by, many times there heterogeneous aspects involved in the actual practice of the profession and standard rules and regulations may not always be helpful when deciding what is best for the client. The aim of an ethical code regardless of its country of origon is to provide practice guidelines for the professional to not necessarily follow to the letter but to use as a reference point, for xample when starting out as a student the Codes and the accompanying guidelines serve to educate with regards to protocol and procedures expected by the discipline. One example of this is with regards to the storing of client’s records. During the process of becoming a practicing psychologist the aim therefore is to become familiar with the code and accompanying guidelines to guide practice and to use it as a reference point when ethical dilemmas arise. The content and language used in ethics codes can differ between countries which for example, can be accounted for by the type of society, individualistic or collectivistic, and their values.

With this in mind the aim of this piece of work is to compare and contrast three codes from similar societies; Australia (APS), Great Britian (BPS) and the United States of America (APA) beginning with a brief comparison of the structure of the code and the nature of the languge used leading to an in depth analysis of the content of the three codes with regards to potential issues that may arise for the newly qualified psychologist. Each of the codes introduces the reader to the code and its applicability to the profession in the introduction and preamble, the APS also includes an explanation of the terms used within the code.

The BPS contains a section called ‘Decision Making’ in which they identify the most common areas (according to members) where and in which situations ethical dilemmas most frequently arise, the APA deals with resolving ethical issues within the content of the ethical standards likewise with the APS no specific section deals with decision making so to speak, each potential source of ethical dilemmas are dealt with in their relevant section of the code.

The language used witin the code directed at the professional is indicctive of the nature of the code, both the APA and the APS begin each sentence with “Psychologists” suggesting that is what they should aspire to, in contrast to this the BPS directs the psychologist by saying that the “Psychologists should and must”. General Principles The codes vary slightly with the number of General Principles within each, whic are as follows; APA; A Respect for the rights and dignity of people and peoples B Propriety C Integrity BPS; 1: Respect 2: Competence : Responsibility 4: Integrity APA: A: Beneficience and Nonmaleficience B: Fidelity and Responsibility C: Integrity D: Justice E: Respect for people’s rights and dignity Each general principle is preceeded by an ‘explanatory statement’ (APS) or a ‘Statement of values’ (BPS). In contrast the APA prior to the ethical standards presents an explanatory paragraph for each of the general principles. Additionally, the APA gives reference to associated standards for example standard 6. 01 (regarding documentation of records) gives reference to standard 4. 1(maintaining confidentiality) to be taken into consideration when making ethical decisions. The APS makes reference to associated standards to give meaning to the standard being described. Although it is essential that practising psychologists have a thorough understanding of the code and the associated guidelines there are a number of issues that a newly qualified psychologist needs to know in depth, these are pertaining to; record keeping, competence, informed consent, multiple relationships, confidentiality and the administration of psychological tests and assessments. Record Keeping

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