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Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses

General ethical principles[edit]

There are five general principles that serve as the ideals to which psychologists should aspire within the profession. The principles represent ethical goals but do not explicitly inform or instruct adherence to the goals; instead, the principles aim to influence and to guide professional behavior with respect to the psychologist, research subjects, students, and the individuals who seek psychological services.

Principle A: Beneficence and nonmaleficence[edit]

The beneficence and non maleficence principle of the APA general principles guides psychologists to perform work that is beneficial to others yet does not hurt anyone in the process of carrying out that work. Psychologists are to remain aware of their professional influence and the potential consequences therein on individuals and groups who seek counsel with the psychologist, especially with respect to preventing misuse or abuse, while additionally maintaining awareness of how the psychologist’s own physical and mental health may influence their work. Among professional interactions and research, psychologists ought to respect and protect the rights and welfare of patients and participants.

Principle B: Fidelity and responsibility[edit]

The fidelity and responsibility principle of the APA general principles inspires psychologists to cultivate a professional and scientific environment built upon trust, accountability, and ethical considerations. Psychologists are bound to the community by way of their profession and must conduct themselves in a responsible and ethical manner while also maintaining a similar check on colleagues. Furthermore, psychologists are expected to altruistically devote some of their time to the community.

Principle C: Integrity[edit]

The integrity principle of the APA general principles aims to encourage psychologists to engage in honest, transparent practices within all aspects of the field of psychology. That is, psychologists should not engage in behavior that could be misconstrued as dishonest, exploitative, or otherwise malicious. When deception is appropriately used (most likely during psychological research), psychologists have a responsibility to mitigate the effects of its use on the overall field.

Principle D: Justice[edit]

The justice principle of the APA general principles states that people are entitled to the advances made within the field of psychology and to the services offered by professionals within the field. Furthermore, psychologists should prevent unjust practices by remaining aware of their biases, level of competence, and area and limits of expertise.