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The Humane Society of the United States.


The competence section of the APA Ethical Standards is designed to guide psychologists in how to define their own competence and how to approach clients or patients that might fall outside of that area of expertise. This ethical standard begins by helping psychologists define the boundaries of their own competence. The different types of mental health related problems and potential treatments are highly varied. It is impossible for a psychologists to be competent in all areas, and in fact, unethical to attempt to portray themselves in such a way. If a psychologist feels that he/she has not been trained to ensure competence in a specific area to treat a client, he/she should make an appropriate referral. This ethical standard also provides psychologists with guidelines on providing services in emergency situations. Although psychologists should refrain from providing service outside of their area of competence, in times of emergency the psychologist is obligated to help where possible. Psychologists are also required to maintain competence. This is usually done through the completion of continuing education credits. This standard also provides the psychologist with a bases from which to make scientific and professional judgment in an ethically consistent manner. Outlines are also provided for delegating work to others and resolving personal problems and conflicts.

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.