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Ethics of professional psychologist

Ethics is a set of norms of behavior, the moral of a social group. The activities of any professional group also develop their own standards, rules of professional behavior, which together form a professional ethic. So, they talk about medical ethics, scientific ethics.



The importance of ethics in the work of a doctor is known to many. They also know that the ancient Greek physician and philosopher Hippocrates formulated the ethical commandments of a doctor. Now they are known as the Hippocratic oaths and form the basis of professional medical ethics.

The professional activity of a psychologist is work with the inner world of a person, with a human person. And this object of work requires observance of special principles and rules of ethics. Psychology has at its disposal such tools, the use of which requires special care. Consider the most important principles of professional ethics of a psychologist.

1) The principle of professional competence. It is important for a psychologist to know his rights and obligations, opportunities and limitations. He should be clearly aware of his professional capabilities and act only within the level of professional preparedness. When applying the psychodiagnostic technique, corrective, developing, consulting programs, the psychologist must know their theoretical foundations and master the technology for their implementation.

To organize holistic and competent psychological assistance, he must be able to establish contacts and work together with colleagues and representatives of related specialties - psychiatrists, psychotherapists, psychoneurologists, neuropsychologists. For a qualified psychologist, the answer to the client: "No, I am not working on these issues, you better contact another specialist," is not an indicator of his professional incompetence. Only an insufficiently qualified psychologist works without restrictions, takes on any problem without the necessary training, and is ready to answer any questions. The principle of professional competence requires a psychologist to tackle only those issues on which he is professionally knowledgeable, and for the solution of which he knows practical methods of work. In this regard, the psychologist must notify the customer about his real capabilities in the field of questions posed by the customer, about the extent of his competence.

When solving psychological problems, the psychologist relies on an analysis of literary data and practical experience on the question. The results of the study are formulated in terms and concepts accepted in psychological science and practical psychology. Conclusions should be based on registered primary materials, their correct processing, interpretation and positive conclusion of competent colleagues.

The psychologist formulates conclusions and recommendations to the client, communicates psychological information to the client in an adequate form and in a language that is understandable to him. At the same time, he seeks to avoid professional jargon and excessive use of special terms.

2) The principle of non-damage to humans. The psychologist carries out its activities based primarily on the interests of the customer. However, one should adhere to the principle of non-damage to any person who is somehow included in the study or practical work. It is important to keep in mind the irreversibility of many mental processes. Therefore, the main ethical principle of a psychologist is "do no harm." Formulated by Hippocrates in relation to medical ethics, it is of exceptional importance in the work of a psychologist. The process and results of the psychologist should not harm the health, condition, social status, interests of a person. The psychologist must use the safest and most acceptable methods, techniques, and working methods. He must take special care to ensure that the customer is not harmed by people who are aware of the results obtained, to prevent incorrect actions by the customer. For this, the psychologist formulates his recommendations, organizes the storage, use and publication of the research results in such a way that they are applied only within the framework of the tasks set by the customer.

If the client (subject) is sick, then the use of research methods or practical psychological work is permissible only with the permission of the doctor or with the consent of other persons representing the interests of the client. A psychologist can carry out psychotherapeutic work with a patient only in coordination with the attending physician and with specialization in medical psychology.

3) The principle of objectivity. The psychologist should not be biased towards any person. It is necessary to take an objective position, independent of the subjective opinion or requirements of third parties. Formulation of conclusions and the performance of psychological work on the basis of the subjective impression of the subject, his legal or social status, positive or negative attitude of the customer to the subject is inadmissible. To do this, the psychologist must apply techniques that are adequate to the goals and conditions of the study, age, gender, education, condition of the subject. Methods should be standardized, normalized, reliable, valid, adapted. The psychologist must apply data processing and interpretation methods that have received scientific recognition. The results of the work should not depend on the personal qualities and personal sympathies of the psychologist. The results obtained must always be scientifically substantiated, verified and comprehensively balanced. The psychologist is guided only by the interests of the case.

In his work, it is important for the psychologist to distinguish between the sphere of personal and professional life. He should not transfer his personal relationships and problems to professional activities.

Close personal relationships between the psychologist and the client are undesirable. It is important that the psychologist can maintain an objective and detached position necessary for the effective resolution of client problems.

4) The principle of respect for the client. The psychologist must respect the dignity of the subject, client and show honesty in communicating with him. In the process of psychological work, the psychologist should strive to maintain the client's feelings of sympathy and trust, satisfaction from communication with the psychologist.

When conducting a study, it is necessary to report on its purpose (in a fairly general and accessible form), to promptly warn the subject about how the received information will be used.

The optimal style of relations between a practical psychologist and a client is equal interaction. The client should feel like a full partner of a psychologist. One of the common mistakes of practical psychologists is the position of patronage and guardianship. Moreover, the psychologist, considering himself a connoisseur of life, begins to influence the client so that he accepts his criteria: what is “right” and what is “wrong”. This leads to the fact that the psychologist begins to evaluate the actions of a person as good or bad. This is a manifestation of unprofessionalism, a tendency to act on the basis of everyday psychology.

It is important for a practical psychologist to avoid evaluative statements about the client’s actions and to refrain from direct advice to him, since in this case he takes responsibility for his fate and personality. For the development of a person, it is necessary that he be aware and show personal responsibility for the decisions made.
An unqualified psychologist is prone to boilerplate assessments of client actions and a stereotypical style of responding to client situations.

When conducting educational work, during lectures, seminars, the psychologist should not show a sense of superiority, edifying, directive tone and behavior. Professional snobbery is unacceptable. The help of a psychologist to the customer should be recommendatory, unobtrusive, be as delicate and respectful as possible in relation to his professional competence.

The psychologist should avoid provoking a confrontational relationship of clients. For example, the professional tact of a psychologist should also consist in not opposing the student and teacher in the pedagogical process. The experience of some psychologists sometimes reveals this tendency. It must be recognized that the activities of some teachers and the style of work of individual schools provide the basis for such a contrast. However, the psychologist should not stand between the teacher and the student and become the sole defender of the interests of students. The most productive form of psychologist’s activity will be to introduce the teacher to the student’s problems. A teacher, no matter what he is, should not remain “overboard” when a psychologist carries out his activities. Such a behavior of a psychologist is even more vivid when he creates the illusion that the teacher, as it were, conducts psychological work among his students, himself seeks to know and understand the psychological problems of the students.

5) Respect for professional confidentiality. The psychologist must maintain the confidentiality of psycho-diagnostic techniques. This means that professional methods should not fall into the hands of lay people. Secrets to their suitability must be kept confidential. It is a matter of professional honor for a psychologist to discourage attempts at incorrect and unethical use of psychodiagnostic techniques.

The psychologist must keep confidential the results of psychodiagnostic research, avoid deliberate or accidental dissemination of material received from the subject (or client) in order to avoid compromising it. At the same time, it is important to keep a strict record of the information received (up to the application of the coding system), restrict access to it by the customer, client or other third parties, and correctly use the information received.

For a more reliable guarantee of confidentiality of research materials, it is useful to use a coding system. At the same time, it is necessary to indicate on all materials, starting from the protocols and ending with the final report, not the last names, first names, and patronymics of the subjects, but the code assigned to them, consisting of a certain number of numbers and letters. The document, which indicates the surname, name, patronymic of the subject and the corresponding code, known only to the psychologist, is executed in a single copy, stored separately from experimental materials, inaccessible to outsiders and transmitted only to the customer, if necessary according to the working conditions.

The psychologist must first agree with the customer a list of persons who gain access to the materials characterizing the subject, the place and conditions of their storage, the purpose of their use.

It is important to clearly distinguish between the presentation of psychological information to the customer, client and user. It is necessary to carefully weigh the appropriateness of transferring to the customer one or another information received during the research. It is unacceptable for a psychologist to divulge data from a psychological examination outside the limits agreed upon with the customer and the subject. Information received from the client on the basis of a trusting relationship cannot be transferred without his consent to any public, state organizations, private individuals. This is especially important in cases where the anonymity of the results was agreed upon during the examination and guaranteed to the subject, as well as when the information can harm the subject’s reputation. This is a professional secret of a psychologist. Particular care must be taken to ensure that confidential information obtained in the course of psychological research is not known to incompetent persons, nor is it used explicitly in publications and lectures. In some cases, in the interest of the test subject or organization, the results of a psychological examination may be made available to officials. At the same time, it is important to first notify the subject himself about this and obtain from the official bodies a guarantee of non-dissemination of the information provided.

At the same time, the psychologist should be guided by the principle of the necessity and sufficiency of the information provided, that is, provide only the information that is necessary and sufficient to solve the problems of the organization and the individual. However, here the psychologist must be sure that his information will be used by interested parties to achieve humane goals, and not for another, even if very important, goal.

Among professional psychologists and sociologists, it is generally accepted that the obligation to strictly preserve professional secrets loses its strength if the subject agrees to divulge them. However, it should be emphasized that in this case, the psychologist should, if possible, not disclose information if they can harm the subject. To realize the measure of harm is the professional duty of a psychologist.

When conducting mass psychological examinations, the psychologist brings their results to the attention of the customer. In this case, the psychologist must exclude accidental or deliberate communication to the subject of the results of his research, which may injure him.

Information about the subject should in no case be subject to open discussion, transmission or communication outside the forms recommended by the psychologist. Separate data from the mass survey in a generalized form can be communicated to all survey participants.

Some general information may also be shared with subjects. Subjects are often interested in their psychological characteristics, asking the psychologist to tell about the results of diagnostic work. In this case, the psychologist can provide some of the information. But this must be done on an individual basis. Information should relate to issues of self-knowledge, self-development and presented in a tactful manner. Developing the idea of ​​G. Lessing, we can say: “The client needs to tell the truth, only the truth, but not the whole truth ...”

In connection with the recognition of the importance of the ethical regulation of psychological practice over the past twenty years, psychologists in many countries have developed ethical standards for professional psychological activity. So, in 1981, the American Psychological Association formally adopted the "Ethical Standards of Psychologists" - a kind of code of professional ethics. In 1985, the British Psychological Society adopted the Code of Conduct for psychologists. Issues of ethical support of research and practice are actively developed in other European countries. Our country also actively discusses the problems of professional ethics of psychologists and develops documents that could regulate the ethical side in their activities.
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