Ethics in Plain English

Thomas F. Nagy

Course Description

Ethics in Plain English is a practical and engaging resource that shows psychologists how to apply the principles of the Ethics Code of American Psychological Association (APA) to the ethical dilemmas that they encounter in their daily lives. This second edition has been wholly rewritten and updated to make it consistent with the newly revised standards of the APA Ethics Code (2002).

Each ethical standard is reproduced in its entirety. Then it is translated into everyday language and is followed by a fictional case study that illustrates, in an entertaining way, how the standard might be applied to a real-lire situation. Examples of both problematic and exemplary behavior in diverse settings are provided. New to this edition are thought provoking discussion questions after each case study, making the book even more useful for classroom use or self-study.

The chapters cover general principles of ethical decision making as well as broad range of issues relating to professional competence, human relations, privacy and confidentiality, advertising and other public statements, record keeping and fees, education and training, research and publication, assessment and therapy. This book will educate readers and help them navigate a variety of challenging situations.

About Authors

Tomas F. Nagy received his PhD from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in 1972. He is currently in independent practice in Palo Alto, California, is an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Stanford University School of Medicine, and is on the staff of Stanford’s Center for Integrative Medicine. For the past 25 years, Dr. Nagy’s professional activities have focused in part on ethical issues for psychologists. He has served as chair of the Illinois Psychological Association Ethics Committee (1982-1986), was a member of the American Psychological Association (APA) Ethics Committee (1985-1987), served on and chaired the APA Ethics Committee Task Force that revised the “Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct” (1986-1992), was a member of the California Psychological Association Ethics Committee (1988-1993), and currently serves on the Ethics Committee of Stanford University Hospital. He was also an oral examiner for the California Licensing Board for 10 years and has participated in forensic work as an expert witness and consultant to attorneys for many years.

Dr. Nagy provides psychological services and ethical consultation to psychologists, attorneys, educators, and consumers. He is a fellow of APA Division 29 (Psychotherapy) and Division 42 (Psychologists in Independent Practice) and is also a fellow in the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. He is the recipient of the Illinois psychological Association’s Special Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Profession of Psychology (1986) and the Santa Clara County, California, Award for Significant Contributions to the Field of Psychology by a Psychologist (1999). He has been interviewed on radio, TV, and print media on the subject of ethics in the practice of psychology in a variety of settings. Dr. Nagy has written on the ethical issues related to professional competence, managed health care, and psychology over the Internet and is a coauthor of Ethics of Psychologists: A Commentary on the APA Ethics Code (Canter, Bennett, Jones, & Nagy, 1994).

Learning Objectives

After completing this course you’ll be able to:

  1. Explain the ways in which psychologists reach decisions regarding ethical dilemmas.
  2. Explain the ethical ways and procedures for resolving ethical violations.
  3. Explain the appropriate response by a psychologist when under investigation by the Ethics Committee.
  4. Explain what constitutes a psychologist’s competence from an ethical stand-point.
  5. Explain what is the ethical way to handle a situation in which a psychologist is asked to treat a person in need and does not have the ideal training.
  6. Explain the necessary steps to be taken when a psychologist delegates work to employees, supervisees, and research assistants.
  7. Explain how a psychologist should respond to situations in which he or she has strong personal feelings in regards to the client.
  8. Explain the importance for a psychologist to play only one role at a time with a consumer of psychological services.
  9. Explain how to handle a situation when a psychologist is asked to provide psychological services by a third party.
  10. Explain the requirement for obtaining informed consent at the outset of psychological service provision.
  11. Explain at what time in the treatment confidentiality should be discussed.
  12. Explain under what circumstances the law permits psychologists to disclose confidential information without the consent of the client.
  13. Explain the ethical way in which psychologists are allowed to make public statements.
  14. Explain the ethical way in which psychologists solicit testimonials from clients.
  15. Explain the importance for psychologists to maintain, disseminate, store, and dispose of records related to their professional work.
  16. Explain the ethical way in which psychologists discuss payments with their clients.
  17. Explain the ethical prohibition for psychologists to accept referral fees.
  18. Describe what psychologists are ethically required to inform their students when beginning to teach a course.
  19. Explain the ethical requirements when students are required to undergo psychotherapy as part of their education experience.
  20. Explain the ethical ways in which psychologists conduct intervention research involving the use of experimental treatments.
  21. Explain the ethical requirements for psychologists to obtain informed consent from participants prior to recording voices or images.
  22. Explain the ethical obligations and limits for psychologists to offer professional services as an inducement for research participants.
  23. Explain the ethical obligations for psychologists conducting research with animals.
  24. Explain the ethical limitations on psychologists publication of previously published data.
  25. Explain the ethical limitations when a psychologist is asked to provide opinions about a person’s psychological traits but circumstances prevented an assessment from being conducted.
  26. Define the term “test data” as used in the ethics code for psychologists.
  27. Explain the ethical exception for psychologists to promote the use of psychological assessment techniques by unqualified persons.
  28. Explain the term “test materials” as used in the code of ethics for psychologists.
  29. Explain the ethical requirements for the informed consent when the therapist providing services is a trainee.
  30. Explain the ethical obligations when psychologists provide services to several persons who are related to each other.
  31. Explain the ethical prohibitions regarding psychologists engaging in sexual intimacies with individuals they know to be close relatives or significant others of current clients.
  32. Explain the ethically condoned time frame for psychologists to engage in sexual intimacies with former clients.

Course Contents

  • Introduction
    1. Resolving Ethical Issues
    2. Competence
    3. Human Relations
    4. Privacy and Confidentiality
    5. Advertising and Other Public Statements
    6. Record Keeping and Fees
    7. Education and Training
    8. Research and Publication
    9. Assessment
    10. Therapy
  • References

Customer Comments

Nagy’s splendid contribution provides practical interpretations of each of the standards of the 2002 APA ethics Code. Each interpretation is followed by a case vignette designed to illustrate the key issues and aspects of each standard. The comprehensive analyses help provide clarity about whether dilemmas present ethical, legal, technical competence or professional (e.g., clinical) issues. This treasure will be a valuable resource to me as an ethics workshop presenter; I highly recommend it, as it will be helpful to instructors, students, practitioners, and researchers. It belongs in every psychologist’s library!” — Melba J. T. Vasquez, PhD, ABPP, independent practice, Austin, TX; President, Texas Psychological Association, 2006; Past President, Division 35 (Society for the Psychology of Women) and Division 17 (Society of Counseling Psychology), American Psychological Association

In this second edition, Dr. Nagy uses realistic vignettes to illustrate the intent and the applicability of the APA Ethics Code. Both students and experienced psychologists can benefit from the explication and analysis provided in this volume. It puts flesh on the bones of the Ethics Code.” — Samuel J. Knapp, EdD, Pennsylvania Psychological Association, Harrisburg

A positive experience. I referred two of my work mates to you.” – D.K., SW, MI