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Section 1
American Psychological Association
Media Presentations & Solicitation

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Social Workers, Couneslors, MFT's, and Psychologists

APA Code of Ethics Excerpts

Psychologists are committed to increasing scientific and professional knowledge of behavior and people's understanding of themselves and others and to the use of such knowledge to improve the condition of individuals, organizations, and society. Psychologists respect and protect civil and human rights and the central importance of freedom of inquiry and expression in research, teaching, and publication. They strive to help the public in developing informed judgments and choices concerning human behavior. In doing so, they perform many roles, such as researcher, educator, diagnostician, therapist, supervisor, consultant, administrator, social interventionist, and expert witness. This Ethics Code provides a common set of principles and standards upon which psychologists build their professional and scientific work.

This Ethics Code is intended to provide specific standards to cover most situations encountered by psychologists. It has as its goals the welfare and protection of the individuals and groups with whom psychologists work and the education of members, students, and the public regarding ethical standards of the discipline.

The development of a dynamic set of ethical standards for psychologists' work-related conduct requires a personal commitment and lifelong effort to act ethically; to encourage ethical behavior by students, supervisees, employees, and colleagues; and to consult with others concerning ethical problems.

Section 4: Privacy and Confidentiality

4.01 Maintaining Confidentiality

Psychologists have a primary obligation and take reasonable precautions to protect confidential information obtained through or stored in any medium, recognizing that the extent and limits of confidentiality may be regulated by law or established by institutional rules or professional or scientific relationship. (See also Standard 2.05, Delegation of Work to Others.)

4.02 Discussing the Limits of Confidentiality
(a) Psychologists discuss with persons (including, to the extent feasible, persons who are legally incapable of giving informed consent and their legal representatives) and organizations with whom they establish a scientific or professional relationship (1) the relevant limits of confidentiality and (2) the foreseeable uses of the information generated through their psychological activities. (See also Standard 3.10, Informed Consent.)

(b) Unless it is not feasible or is contraindicated, the discussion of confidentiality occurs at the outset of the relationship and thereafter as new circumstances may warrant.

(c) Psychologists who offer services, products, or information via electronic transmission inform clients/patients of the risks to privacy and limits of confidentiality.

4.03 Recording
Before recording the voices or images of individuals to whom they provide services, psychologists obtain permission from all such persons or their legal representatives. (See also Standards 8.03, Informed Consent for Recording Voices and Images in Research; 8.05, Dispensing with Informed Consent for Research; and 8.07, Deception in Research.)

4.04 Minimizing Intrusions on Privacy
(a) Psychologists include in written and oral reports and consultations, only information germane to the purpose for which the communication is made.

(b) Psychologists discuss confidential information obtained in their work only for appropriate scientific or professional purposes and only with persons clearly concerned with such matters.

4.05 Disclosures
(a) Psychologists may disclose confidential information with the appropriate consent of the organizational client, the individual client/patient, or another legally authorized person on behalf of the client/patient unless prohibited by law.

(b) Psychologists disclose confidential information without the consent of the individual only as mandated by law, or where permitted by law for a valid purpose such as to (1) provide needed professional services; (2) obtain appropriate professional consultations; (3) protect the client/patient, psychologist, or others from harm; or (4) obtain payment for services from a client/patient, in which instance disclosure is limited to the minimum that is necessary to achieve the purpose. (See also Standard 6.04e, Fees and Financial Arrangements.)

4.06 Consultations
When consulting with colleagues, (1) psychologists do not disclose confidential information that reasonably could lead to the identification of a client/patient, research participant, or other person or organization with whom they have a confidential relationship unless they have obtained the prior consent of the person or organization or the disclosure cannot be avoided, and (2) they disclose information only to the extent necessary to achieve the purposes of the consultation. (See also Standard 4.01, Maintaining Confidentiality.)

4.07 Use of Confidential Information for Didactic or Other Purposes
Psychologists do not disclose in their writings, lectures, or other public media, confidential, personally identifiable information concerning their clients/patients, students, research participants, organizational clients, or other recipients of their services that they obtained during the course of their work, unless (1) they take reasonable steps to disguise the person or organization, (2) the person or organization has consented in writing, or (3) there is legal authorization for doing so.

Section 5: Advertising and Other Public Statements

5.01 Avoidance of False or Deceptive Statements
(a) Public statements include but are not limited to paid or unpaid advertising, product endorsements, grant applications, licensing applications, other credentialing applications, brochures, printed matter, directory listings, personal resumes or curricula vitae, or comments for use in media such as print or electronic transmission, statements in legal proceedings, lectures and public oral presentations, and published materials. Psychologists do not knowingly make public statements that are false, deceptive, or fraudulent concerning their research, practice, or other work activities or those of persons or organizations with which they are affiliated.

(b) Psychologists do not make false, deceptive, or fraudulent statements concerning (1) their training, experience, or competence; (2) their academic degrees; (3) their credentials; (4) their institutional or association affiliations; (5) their services; (6) the scientific or clinical basis for, or results or degree of success of, their services; (7) their fees; or (8) their publications or research findings.

(c) Psychologists claim degrees as credentials for their health services only if those degrees (1) were earned from a regionally accredited educational institution or (2) were the basis for psychology licensure by the state in which they practice.

5.02 Statements by Others
(a) Psychologists who engage others to create or place public statements that promote their professional practice, products, or activities retain professional responsibility for such statements.

(b) Psychologists do not compensate employees of press, radio, television, or other communication media in return for publicity in a news item. (See also Standard 1.01, Misuse of Psychologists' Work.)

(c) A paid advertisement relating to psychologists' activities must be identified or clearly recognizable as such.

5.03 Descriptions of Workshops and Non-Degree-Granting Educational Programs
To the degree to which they exercise control, psychologists responsible for announcements, catalogs, brochures, or advertisements describing workshops, seminars, or other non-degree-granting educational programs ensure that they accurately describe the audience for which the program is intended, the educational objectives, the presenters, and the fees involved.

5.04 Media Presentations
When psychologists provide public advice or comment via print, Internet, or other electronic transmission, they take precautions to ensure that statements (1) are based on their professional knowledge, training, or experience in accord with appropriate psychological literature and practice; (2) are otherwise consistent with this Ethics Code; and (3) do not indicate that a professional relationship has been established with the recipient. (See also Standard 2.04, Bases for Scientific and Professional Judgments.)

5.05 Testimonials
Psychologists do not solicit testimonials from current therapy clients/patients or other persons who because of their particular circumstances are vulnerable to undue influence.

5.06 In-Person Solicitation
Psychologists do not engage, directly or through agents, in uninvited in-person solicitation of business from actual or potential therapy clients/patients or other persons who because of their particular circumstances are vulnerable to undue influence. However, this prohibition does not preclude (1) attempting to implement appropriate collateral contacts for the purpose of benefiting an already engaged therapy client/patient or (2) providing disaster or community outreach services.

- American Psychological Association APA Code of Ethics of 2016

Guidelines for the Practice of Telepsychology

These guidelines are designed to address the developing area of psychological service provision commonly known as telepsychology. Telepsychology is defined, for the purpose of these guidelines, as the provision of psychological services using telecommunication technologies as expounded in the “Definition of Telepsychology.” The expanding role of technology in the provision of psychological services and the continuous development of new technologies that may be useful in the practice of psychology present unique opportunities, considerations and challenges to practice. With the advancement of technology and the increased number of psychologists using technology in their practices, these guidelines have been prepared to educate and guide them.

These guidelines are informed by relevant American Psychological Association (APA) standards and guidelines, including the following: Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (“APA Ethics Code”) (APA, 2002a, 2010), and the Record Keeping Guidelines (APA, 2007). In addition, the assumptions and principles that guide the APA's “Guidelines on Multicultural Training, Research, Practice, and Organizational Change for Psychologists” (APA, 2003) are infused throughout the rationale and application describing each of the guidelines. Therefore, these guidelines are informed by professional theories, evidence-based practices and definitions in an effort to offer the best guidance in the practice of telepsychology.

The use of the term guidelines within this document refers to statements that suggest or recommend specific professional behaviors, endeavors or conduct for psychologists. Guidelines differ from standards in that standards are mandatory and may be accompanied by an enforcement mechanism. Thus, guidelines are aspirational in intent. They are intended to facilitate the continued systematic development of the profession and to help ensure a high level of professional practice by psychologists. “Guidelines are created to educate and to inform the practice of psychologists. They are also intended to stimulate debate and research. Guidelines are not to be promulgated as a means of establishing the identity of a particular group or specialty area of psychology; likewise, they are not to be created with the purpose of excluding any psychologist from practicing in a particular area” (APA, 2002b, p. 1048). “Guidelines are not intended to be mandatory or exhaustive and may not be applicable to every professional or clinical situation. They are not definitive and they are not intended to take precedence over the judgment of psychologists” (APA, 2002b, p. 1050). These guidelines are meant to assist psychologists as they apply current standards of professional practice when utilizing telecommunication technologies as a means of delivering their professional services. They are not intended to change any scope of practice or define the practice of any group of psychologists.

The practice of telepsychology involves consideration of legal requirements, ethical standards, telecommunication technologies, intra- and interagency policies, and other external constraints, as well as the demands of the particular professional context. In some situations, one set of considerations may suggest a different course of action than another, and it is the responsibility of the psychologist to balance them appropriately. These guidelines aim to assist psychologists in making such decisions. In addition, it will be important for psychologists to be cognizant and compliant with laws and regulations that govern independent practice within jurisdictions and across jurisdictional and international borders. This is particularly true when providing telepsychology services. Where a psychologist is providing services from one jurisdiction to a client/patient located in another jurisdiction, the law and regulations may differ between the two jurisdictions. Also, it is the responsibility of the psychologists who practice telepsychology to maintain and enhance their level of understanding of the concepts related to the delivery of services via telecommunication technologies. Nothing in these guidelines is intended to contravene any limitations set on psychologists' activities based on ethical standards, federal or jurisdictional statutes or regulations, or for those psychologists who work in agencies and public settings. As in all other circumstances, psychologists must be aware of the standards of practice for the jurisdiction or setting in which they function and are expected to comply with those standards. Recommendations related to the guidelines are consistent with broad ethical principles (APA Ethics Code, 2002a, 2010) and it continues to be the responsibility of the psychologist to apply all current legal and ethical standards of practice when providing telepsychology services.

It should be noted that APA policy generally requires substantial review of the relevant empirical literature as a basis for establishing the need for guidelines and for providing justification for the guidelines' statements themselves (APA, 2005). The literature supporting the work of the Task Force on Telepsychology and guidelines statements themselves reflect seminal, relevant and recent publications. The supporting references in the literature review emphasize studies from approximately the past 15 years plus classic studies that provide empirical support and relevant examples for the guidelines. The literature review, however, is not intended to be exhaustive or serve as a comprehensive systematic review of the literature that is customary when developing professional practice guidelines for psychologists.

Definition of Telepsychology
Telepsychology is defined, for the purpose of these guidelines, as the provision of psychological services using telecommunication technologies. Telecommunications is the preparation, transmission, communication, or related processing of information by electrical, electromagnetic, electromechanical, electro-optical, or electronic means (Committee on National Security Systems, 2010). Telecommunication technologies include but are not limited to telephone, mobile devices, interactive videoconferencing, email, chat, text, and Internet (e.g., self-help websites, blogs, and social media). The information that is transmitted may be in writing, or include images, sounds or other data. These communications may be synchronous with multiple parties communicating in real time (e.g. interactive videoconferencing, telephone) or asynchronous (e.g. email, online bulletin boards, storing and forwarding information). Technologies may augment traditional in-person services (e.g., psychoeducational materials online after an in-person therapy session), or be used as stand-alone services (e.g., therapy or leadership development provided over videoconferencing). Different technologies may be used in various combinations and for different purposes during the provision of telepsychology services. For example, videoconferencing and telephone may also be utilized for direct service while email and text is used for non-direct services (e.g. scheduling). Regardless of the purpose, psychologists strive to be aware of the potential benefits and limitations in their choices of technologies for particular clients in particular situations.
Operational Definitions:

The Task Force on Telepsychology has agreed upon the following operational definitions for terms used in this document. In addition, these and other terms used throughout the document have a basis in definitions developed by the following U.S. agencies: Committee on National Security Systems, Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Standards and Technology. Lastly, the terminology and definitions that describe technologies and their uses are constantly evolving, and therefore, psychologists are encouraged to consult glossaries and publications prepared by agencies, such as, the Committee on National Security Systems and the National Institute of Standards and Technology which represent definitive sources responsible for developing terminology and definitions related to technology and its uses.

The term “ client/patient ” refers to the recipient of psychological services, whether psychological services are delivered in the context of healthcare, corporate, supervision, and/or consulting services. The term “ in-person, ” which is used in combination with the provision of services, refers to interactions in which the psychologist and the client/patient are in the same physical space and does not include interactions that may occur through the use of technologies. The term “ remote ” which is also used in combination with the provision of services utilizing telecommunication technologies, refers to the provision of a service that is received at a different site from where the psychologist is physically located. The term “remote” includes no consideration related to distance, and may refer to a site in a location that is in the office next door to the psychologist or thousands of miles from the psychologist. The terms “ jurisdictions ” or “ jurisdictional ” are used when referring to the governing bodies at states, territories, and provincial governments.

Finally, there are terms within the document related to confidentiality and security. “ Confidentiality ” means the principle that data or information is not made available or disclosed to unauthorized persons or processes. The terms “ security ” or “ security measures ” are terms that encompass all of the administrative, physical, and technical safeguards in an information system. The term “ information system ” is an interconnected set of information resources within a system and includes hardware, software, information, data, applications, communications, and people.
-American Psychological Association. (2013). – Guidelines for the practice of telepsychology.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Barnett, J. E. (2019). The ethical practice of psychotherapy: Clearly within our reach. Psychotherapy, 56(4), 431–440.

Pinner, D. H., & Kivlighan, D. M. III. (2018). The ethical implications and utility of routine outcome monitoring in determining boundaries of competence in practice. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 49(4), 247–254.

Polychronis, P. D. (2020). Integrated care, shared electronic records, and the psychology profession: A cautionary tale for counseling centers. Journal of College Student Psychotherapy, 34(1), 1–23.

When psychologists provide public advice or comment via print, Internet, or other electronic transmission, what do they need to take precautions to ensure? To select and enter your answer go to Test.

Section 2
Table of Contents