Ethics in School Psychology

PSYC 6651 FALL 2016

Ethics in School Psychology: An Introduction

Psychology Ethics Codes

—  APA and NASP each have codes of ethics for members, NCSPs

—  Apply to professional conduct only

—  Where is the line between professional and personal? ¡  Behavior at after-school activities? ¡  Interactions with students/parents in the community? ¡  Comments posted on the Internet?

APA Ethical Principles

•  Beneficence and Nonmaleficence General Principle A

•  Fidelity and Responsibility General Principle B

•  Integrity General Principle C

•  Justice General Principle D

•  Respect for People’s Rights and Dignity General Principle E

NASP’s Broad Themes for Professional Ethics

•  Respecting the Dignity and Rights of All Persons Principle I

•  Professional Competence and Responsibility Principle II

•  Honesty and Integrity in Professional Relationships Principle III

•  Responsibility to Schools, Families, Communities, the Profession, and Society Principle IV

NASP PPE Organization

Themes (4) Principles (17)

Standards (many)

I. Respect for the Dignity of Persons

1.  Autonomy and Self-Determination ¡  Consent and assent

2.  Privacy and confidentiality ¡  Limits of confidentiality ¡  “Need to know” basis ¡  Protecting sensitive information

3.  Fairness and justice ¡  Do not condone discriminatory practices ¡  Work to correct them

Ethical Dilemma

You are a school psychologist in a high school. One morning, Fiona appears at your office door. She is clearly upset and on the verge of tears. She asks if she can talk to you because she has a big problem and you’re the only person at the school she feels she can trust (you’ve been her case manager for two years). You know Fiona as a student who has had difficulties with anxiety in the past; she has a history of some self-injurious behavior. You also know her parents: her mother is head of the PTA and her father is an attorney who has become angry and combative in IEP meetings in the past. In particular, he was extremely upset when you recommended bi-weekly counseling be added to Fiona’s IEP—he said he didn’t want her “airing dirty laundry” to anyone at the school. You’ve heard rumors around school that Fiona’s parents are having marital problems and may be divorcing. What do you do?

II. Professional Competence and Responsibility

1.  Competence ¡  Boundaries of competence ¡  Working with individuals from diverse backgrounds ¡  Personal problems ¡  Continuing professional development, supervision

2.  Accepting Responsibility for Actions ¡  Documentation ¡  Interventions ¡  Supervisees

II. Professional Competence and Responsibility (cont’d)

3.  Responsible Assessment and Intervention Practices ¡  Consider impact of instruction ¡  Select evidence-based interventions

4.  Responsible School-Based Record Keeping ¡  Parental access to records ¡  Protecting security of records ¡  Storage and disposal of records

5.  Responsible Use of Materials ¡  Test security ¡  Intellectual property

Ethical Dilemma

After a series of devastating floods destroyed homes and schools in a nearby community, many Native American families have moved into your school district. You’ve begun receiving referrals from a number of teachers because the Native American children were having difficulty coping with the loss of their homes and adjusting to their new school and community. You have no experience working with Native American children and their families, or with anyone who had suffered such losses. How should you handle the referrals for assessment and counseling of the Native American students?

III. Honesty and Integrity in Professional Relationships

1.  Accurate Presentation of Professional Qualifications

2.  Forthright Explanation of Professional Services, Roles, and Priorities

¡  Explaining your role and services ¡  Managing conflicting loyalties

3.  Respecting Other Professionals 4.  Multiple Relationships and Conflicts of Interest

¡  Conflicting beliefs à refer out or request reassignment ¡  Sexual harassment and sexual relationships ¡  Private practice guidelines

Ethical Dilemma

As part of her effort to build a strong working relationship with school staff and community members, Hannah Cooks joined the PTA and regularly attends its meetings. During one public meeting a parent openly complained about the treatment her daughter was receiving in a world history class at a school where Hannah is the school psychologist. The parent contended that the history teacher lacked mental stability and consequently was causing her child much anguish. How should Hannah handle this situation?

IV. Responsibility to Schools, Family, Communities, the Profession, and Society

1.  Promoting Healthy School, Family, and Community Environments

2.  Respect for Law and the Relationship of Law and Ethics

3.  Maintaining Public Trust by Self-Monitoring and Peer Monitoring

4.  Contributing to the Profession by Mentoring, Teaching, and Supervision

5.  Contributing to the School Psychology Knowledge Base

Ethical Dilemma

The team of school psychologists in your district holds a monthly meeting for group supervision. This month, you and your colleague decide to carpool to the central office for the meeting. On the way your friend discloses that she’s been feeling incredibly overwhelmed lately. She’s a newly single mom after finalizing a divorce, her mother is terminally ill, and her caseload this year is bigger than ever. She admits to you that she’s been “cutting corners” to get it all done—she’s submitted computer-generated reports, photocopied protocols because she forgot to order new ones, and has even “fudged” some of her counseling logs to indicate that she’s met with students when she hasn’t. While you’re parking she begins to cry and begs you not to tell anyone what she’s disclosed. She exclaims, “I can’t lose this job; I won’t be able to support my son or pay for my mom’s medications!”

8 STEPS OF ETHICAL PROBLEM SOLVING (Jacob, Decker & Hartshorne, 2011; Koocher & Keith-Spiegel, 2008)

1.  Describe the situation 2.  Define the potential legal-ethical issues 3.  Consult ethical and legal guidelines and district policies

—consider both broad and specific mandates 4.  Evaluate rights and welfare of all affected parties,

including cultural characteristics 5.  Generate list of alternatives for each issue 6.  Evaluate consequences of each decision 7.  Analyze the likelihood of risks and benefits occurring 8.  Make the decision, accept responsibility, and monitor

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