HEADING 1 – GENERAL PRINCIPLES
The regulations embodied in this code of ethics are binding on all persons registered with the Board of Psychologists.
The Psychologist is required to be familiar with these rules, and ignorance thereof does not exonerate the Psychologist from disciplinary liability.
Non-compliance with precepts laid down in this code of ethics and any action or omission that is not in line with the decorum, dignity or correct performance of the profession are punished through disciplinary sanctions provided for in article 26, first paragraph of Law 56 dated February 18, 1989.
The Psychologist shall consider the growth of knowledge of human behaviour his duty and use it to promote the psychological well-being of the individual, group and community.
In all professional contexts, he shall work to improve the ability of the person to understand himself and other people and to behave in a way that is aware, effective and appropriate.
The Psychologist shall be aware of social responsibility stemming from the fact that exercising the profession can have a significant influence on the lives of others; he shall therefore pay particular attention to personal, organisational, financial and political factors in order to avoid non-appropriate use of his influence and not unduly exploit the trust and any dependent-type relationship with clients and/or patients.
The Psychologist is responsible for his own professional actions and their foreseeable direct consequences.
In exercising the profession, the Psychologist shall respect the dignity and right of self-determination, autonomy and confidentiality of those who use his services; he shall respect their opinions and shall refrain from imposing his system of values. He shall not discriminate on the basis of religion, race, nationality, social class, socio-economic status, sex, sexual orientation or disability.
For this reason he shall use methods and techniques for safeguarding these principles and refuse to co-operate in actions that are damaging thereto.
When conflicts of interest arise between the client and/or patient and the institution the Psychologist works for, the Psychologist shall clearly state the terms of his own responsibility and the restrictions he feels for reasons of professional loyalty and therefore inform the parties in question.
Should the recipient and commissioner of support or psychotherapy not be the same persons, the Psychologist shall first and foremost protect the recipient of the assistance provided.
The Psychologist is required to maintain an adequate level of professional training and keep up to date with developments in his subject and specifically in the sector he works in. He shall recognise the limits of his own skill and therefore only use theoretical and practical instruments for which he has acquired the specific skill and where he has obtained necessary formal authorisation.
He shall not use methods without a scientific basis and shall not arouse unfounded expectations in the client and/or patient.
The Psychologist shall not accept working conditions that compromise his professional autonomy or compliance with the regulations in this Code and, if such conditions arise, he shall inform his Order.
In co-operating with professionals in other disciplines, he shall exercise his own professional autonomy in respect of the others’ areas of competence.
The Psychologist shall safeguard his autonomy in choosing methods and psychological techniques and their use; he shall therefore be responsible for their use and application, the results and the assessments and the interpretations stemming therefrom.
In his professional activities, research activities and communicating the results thereof, the Psychologist shall carefully assess, partly in relation to the context, the degree of the validity and reliability of the information and sources on which he has based the conclusions reached ; he shall, where necessary, indicate alternative interpretations and state the limits of the results.
In specific cases the Psychologist shall express professional assessments and judgements only if they are based on first-hand knowledge or on adequate and reliable documentation.
The Psychologist shall oppose the improper exercise of the profession as defined in articles 1 and 3 of law 56 dated February 18, 1989 and give the Order’s council the cases of improper exercise that comes to his knowledge.
In the same way, he shall use his professional qualifications exclusively for those activities pertaining to them and with this shall not exploit them for improper or misleading actions.
In carrying out research activities, the Psychologist is required to give adequate explanation to subjects involved therein, in order to obtain their previous informed permission. This information shall include the name and the professional status of the researcher and any Institution he belongs to. He shall also guarantee these persons full freedom to choose to refuse or withdraw said permission.
In cases where the type of research does not allow the subject to be fully informed about all aspects, the Psychologist shall anyway be bound at the end of the test or when the information has been gathered, to communicate the due information and obtain authorisation for the use of the data obtained.
As far as subjects who, because of age or other reasons, are not able to satisfactorily give their permission as per the first paragraph are concerned, permission must be given by a parent or guardian and, likewise, by the subject himself when he is in a position to understand the nature of the co-operation requested.
The right to confidentiality, non-recognisabilty and anonymity shall be respected also in cases where there has been no opportunity to enter into a relationship with the subjects previously.
When the purpose of the professional activity is animal behaviour, the Psychologist shall undertake to respect their nature and not inflict unnecessary suffering on them.
The Psychologist is required to observe professional secrecy. For this reason he shall not reveal information, facts or news he has learned in the course of exercising his profession nor shall he impart information about the professional services carried out or scheduled, unless the cases in the following articles apply.
The Psychologist shall refrain from testifying to facts that have come to his kn?wledge as a result of his professional relationship. The Psychologist may make an exception to the obligation to maintaining the professional secret when there is valid agreement by the client and/or patient that can be clearly shown.
He shall however assess the properness of using said permission, considering the psychological protection of the client and/or patient
In cases where there is an obligation to make a report or declaration, the Psychologist shall limit the reference of what has come to his knowledge during the professional relationship to the minimum extent necessary, for the purposes of the psychological protection of his patient.
In other cases he shall carefully evaluate the need to make a total or partial exception to the confidentiality he is bound by, when serious dangers for the life or psychophysical well-being of the patient or others arise.
In the case of groups therapy, the Psychologist is required to make the rules that govern such therapy clear at the beginning.
He is likewise required to bind the members of the group to respecting each other’s right to confidentiality when necessary.
In cases of co-operation with other professionals equally bound to observe professional secrecy, the Psychologist may only divulge the information strictly required depending on the type of relationship.
The Psychologist shall write scientific reports also intended for professionals bound by professional secrecy in such a way as to preserve the patient’s anonymity in all cases.
The secrecy of what the patient and/or customer tells the Psychologist must also be protected through the keeping and control of notes, writings or recordings of all types and in any form that concern the professional relationship.
The Psychologist must take steps to ensure that, in the case of his death or incapacity, this protection is given to a colleague or the professional Order.
Documentation must be kept for at least five years following the end of the professional relationship with exceptions made in the cases provided for by regulations covering specific matters.
The Psychologist co-operating in the setting up and use of documentation systems shall work to create guarantees of protection for clients and/or patients.
In all professional contexts, the Psychologist shall work in such a way as to ensure, as far as possible, the client and/or patient’s freedom of choice regarding the Psychologist to seek help from.
The Psychologist who works on the selection and assessment of colleagues or other professionals or students, is required to observe exclusively the criteria of his specific competence, qualification or training and not take into consideration decisions contrary to said principles.
The teaching Psychologist shall inculcate in the students interest in the ethical principles and allow his professional practice to be inspired by them. He shall recognise as his duty to ensure his conduct conforms with the content of the training he imparts.
The Psychologist shall refrain from setting up, either personally or through others, educational activities which have the aim of using instruments or practices that are the exclusive preserve of the Psychologist for persons outside the profession except for teaching students on Psychology degree courses and post-graduate courses in psychological matters.
HEADING 2 – RELATIONS WITH PATIENTS AND CUSTOMERS
The Psychologist shall adopt behaviour that is not harmful for the people he cares for professionally and shall not use his role or his professional instruments to ensure undue advantages for himself or others.
At the beginning of the relationship, the Psychologist shall establish his fee.
In a clinical situation, this fee cannot be dependent on the result of the Psychologist’s professional intervention.
At the beginning of the professional relationship, the Psychologist shall give the individual, group, institution or community, adequate and understandable information about his services and their purpose the degree and the legal limits of confidentiality. He thereby operates in such a way that those entitled to do so can give their informed agreement.
If the professional services are set to last over a period, the foreseen duration should, if possible, be indicated.
The Psychologist shall not use the diagnosis and assessment tools at his disposal, inappropriately.
In the case of interventions commissioned by other people, he shall inform the subjects about the nature of his professional intervention and shall not use the information obtained in such a way that it could be prejudicial to them, if not within the limits of the mandate received.
In communicating the results of his diagnosis or assessments, the Psychologist is required to regulate this communication in terms of the psychological protection of the subject, as well.
The Psychologist shall refrain from undertaking or continuing professional activity where his conflicts or personal problems interfere with the effectiveness of his services, make them inadequate or damaging for the people they are aimed at.
The Psychologist shall also avoid taking on other professional roles towards the same client and/or patient if the nature of the preceding relationships could compromise his credibility.
The Psychologist shall evaluate and, if necessary, propose the interruption of the therapeutic relationship if he notes that the patient is not deriving any benefit from the cure and it is not reasonable to predict that he will derive benefit from the cure if it is continued.
If requested, the Psychologist shall provide the patient with the necessary information to look for other and more suitable help.
The Psychologist shall avoid mingling his professional role with his private life in such a way that could interfere with his professional business or any way bring society’s image of the profession into disrepute.
Carrying out assessments or diagnosis of, offering psychological help or psychotherapy to persons with whom the Psychologist has had or is having significant personal relations especially of a sentimental, emotional and/or sexual kind represents a severe breach of ethics.
Likewise, establishing these relations during the course of a professional relationship is also a severe breach of ethics.
The Psychologist is forbidden to carry out any activity by way of his professional relationship that could produce direct or indirect advantages of pecuniary or other type with the exception of the agreed fee.
The Psychologist shall not exploit the professional position he assumes towards colleagues under his supervision or in training under him for reasons other than those of the professional relationship.
The Psychologist may make his intervention dependent on the condition that the patient uses certain organisations, institutes or clinic-type structures recommended by the Psychologist, only for well-grounded reasons of a scientific or professional nature.
In exercising his profession, the Psychologist is forbidden any type of remuneration that, while not constituting the payment for a professional service, derives from relationships with other Psychologists, professionals or health or other types of structures or institutions.
Professional services rendered to minors or mentally incapable persons depends on the Psychologist having the parent or guardian’s permission.
The Psychologist, who without the permission referred to in the first paragraph, judges professional intervention necessary as well as the complete confidentiality thereof, is required to inform his order’s council that the professional relationship have been established.
Exceptions to the above are cases where such services are performed as ordered by authorities legally empowered to do so or in structures established for the purpose by law.
When the Psychologist agrees to provide a professional service at the request of a client who is different from the person or the body subject to such services, the Psychologist is required to clarify the nature and purpose of the intervention with the parties.
HEADING III – RELATIONS WITH COLLEAGUES
Relations between Psychologists must be inspired by the principle of reciprocal respect, loyalty and solidarity.
The Psychologist shall support and back colleagues who, in the course of their work, whatever their working relationship or hierarchical position see their autonomy and the respect of ethical standards threatened.
The Psychologist shall undertake to contribute to the development of the psychological discipline and communicate the progress of his knowledge and techniques to the professional community in part to diffusing it for the purposes of human and social welfare.
In presenting the results of his research the Psychologist is required to indicate the source of other contributions.
The Psychologist shall refrain from publicly giving negative judgements about his colleagues’ training, skill and results achieved following professional intervention or, anyway, judgements that could injure their reputation or professional standing.
A factor that renders this even more serious is when such judgement has an aim of taking clients away from his colleagues.
Whenever serious shortcomings are noticed in the skill of colleagues, or cases of improper professional conduct that could be damaging to the parties using the service or the reputation of the profession, the Psychologist is required to give prompt notification to the council of the competent Order.
The Psychologist shall send clients to colleagues or other professionals bearing in mind their skill in operating the professional context required by the patient and/or customer.
If the interests of the patient and/or customer requires resort to other specific skills, the Psychologist shall propose the consultancy of other colleagues or other professionals. For this sending and for the proposals of consultancy he shall not expect or accept remuneration of any kind.
HEADING IV – RELATIONS WITH SOCIETY
In exercising his professional activity and in circumstances in which he presents the profession in any way whatsoever, the Psychologist is required to bring his conduct into line with professional decorum and dignity.
The Psychologist shall accurately present his training, experience and skill.
In all cases, advertising and information about the professional activity must be inspired by criteria of professional decorum, scientific reputability and protecting the image of the profession
Independently of the limits imposed by the current legislation regarding advertising, the Psychologist shall not behave improperly in public in order to win clients.
In any case the advertising and the information concerning the professional activity must be inspired by criteria of professional decorum, scientific responsiblity and the protection of the image
HEADING V – IMPLEMENTATION REGULATIONS
The Permanent Code of Ethics Observation Division has been set up within the _Ethics Committee” of the Board of Psychologists with the duty of gathering ethics-related legislation from the Order’s Regional and Provincial Councils and all other material useful for formulating proposals for the Order’s National Council committee with the purpose of periodically revising the Code of Ethics.
Said revision will adhere to the form laid down by Law 56 dated February 18, 1989.
This Code of Ethics will come into force on the day after the results of the approval referendum have been announced in compliance with article 28 (paragraph 6 letter C) of Law 56 dated February 18, 1989