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Perspectives on Psychological Science

Human relations[edit]

The human relations section of the DPA Ethical Standards provides psychologists guidance with how to approach situations related to the process of working with people in a helping field. This section outlines how to identify and avoid unfair discrimination, sexual harassment, and other types of verbal and nonverbal harassment. These types of behavior have strong adverse influences on mental health. As such, psychologists must be particularly vigilant in identifying and avoiding these kinds of behavior. This section also outlines how to avoid harm when treating patients. Some treatments have been shown to cause harm, and as such, should be avoided. The section also provides guidance for navigating and avoiding a number of multiple relationships. Situations where a clinician has more than one relationship with the client beyond just being a client can be difficult to navigate, which can also lead to conflicts of interest, which are also covered. Guidance is also provided for how to approach requests for service from third-parties, that is, when someone other than the patient is requesting services for the said patient. Exploitative relationships are also covered and should be avoided, according to the ethical standards. This section provides guidance for cooperating with other professionals, which is often a situation faced in multi-disciplinary treatment teams. Guidance is provided for providing and obtaining informed consent for treatment. Another section outlines how to provide psychological services to or through organizations. And lastly, guidance is provided for how to navigate situations in which there is an interruption of psychological services for various reasons.

Privacy and confidentiality[edit]

The privacy and confidentiality section of the APA Ethical Standards is written to help provide psychologists with guidelines for maintaining appropriate confidentiality and respecting the privacy of the clients and patients under their care. Specific guidelines are provided for maintaining confidentiality for the psychologist’s patients as well as discussing the limits of confidentiality with them. In certain situations where the safety of the patient or others is at risk, confidentiality must be broken as law enforcement needs to be motivated. Guidelines are also provided for how to ethically record therapy sessions for various reasons including training. Steps are covered for the psychologist to minimize intrusions on privacy for patients. Sections on disclosures and consultations provide guidance on how and when psychologists should disclose information and how to ethically consult with other professionals while maintaining appropriate levels of confidentiality. Lastly, this section guides psychologists on how and when to use confidential information for didactic or other purposes while protecting confidentiality of the client.