Message from 2008 and 2009 Ethics Committee Chairs

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Welcome to the APA Ethics Website section on Ethical Standard 1.02 in the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (2002), titled "Conflicts Between Ethics and Law, Regulations, or Other Governing Legal Authority." This site provides information on the history of Standard 1.02, as well as background information related to APA's governance process of examining a discrepancy between the Code's aspirational and enforceable aspects. I invite you to read these materials carefully, and to give us your feedback on this issue of great importance to the ethics of our profession.

The Code's aspirational Introduction and Applicability section states:

If psychologists' ethical responsibilities conflict with law, regulations, or other governing legal authority, psychologists make known their commitment to this Ethics Code and take steps to resolve the conflict in a responsible manner. If the conflict is unresolvable via such means, psychologists may adhere to the requirements of the law, regulations, or other governing authority in keeping with basic principles of human rights.

Ethical standard 1.02, from the enforceable section of our Code, states:


If psychologists' ethical responsibilities conflict with law, regulations, or other governing legal authority, psychologists make known their commitment to the Ethics Code and take steps to resolve the conflict. If the conflict is unresolvable via such means, psychologists may adhere to the requirements of the law, regulations, or other governing legal authority.

The absence of the words "in keeping with basic principles of human rights" from the enforceable standard has become a focus of APA's attention. I encourage your participation as we examine this discrepancy more fully and closely.

At this site you will find an array of materials that will serve as resources. As examples, you will find the history of standard 1.02 dating back to APA's first ethics code in 1953; draft versions of how this standard evolved in the process of revising our current Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct; and a review of how other health and mental health associations address conflicts between ethics and law. These materials have been designed to provide background information for APA members, and for all who wish to comment as APA examines this important issue.

Thank you for visiting the APA Website and reviewing materials related to Ethical Standard 1.02. The APA Ethics Committee looks forward to reading your comments.

Sincerely,

W. Brad Johnson, Ph.D.
2008 Chair, APA Ethics Committee

Jeffrey Barnett, Psy.D.
2009 Chair, APA Ethics Committee
December, 2008