Why is it important to follow APA's Ethical Principles?

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Is it very important for all psychologists to follow the APA's ethical principles when they practice for the sake of their clients, to ensure appropriate diagnosis and treatment. These principles were established to help psychologists maintain professionalism and to help with establishing strong decision-making skills when assessing clients. The APA gives an extensive explanation of exactly why all practicing psychologists should follow these principles and the purpose of its inauguration:

"In the process of making decisions regarding their professional behavior, psychologists must consider this Ethics Code in addition to applicable laws and psychology board regulations. In applying the Ethics Code to their professional work, psychologists may consider other materials and guidelines that have been adopted or endorsed by scientific and professional psychological organizations and the dictates of their own conscience, as well as consult with others within the field. If this Ethics Code establishes a higher standard of conduct than is required by law, psychologists must meet the higher ethical standard. If psychologists' ethical responsibilities conflict with law, regulations, or other governing legal authority, psychologists make known their commitment to this Ethics Code and take steps to resolve the conflict in a responsible manner in keeping with basic principles of human rights." (p. 1597)


Example: Given the hypothetical example of a licensed psychologist assessing a client's situation through therapy.

Application: According to the General Principle E. of the APA's Ethical Principles, the client has the right to confidentiality, self-determination, and privacy. The client needs to be aware of the fact that whatever they say to the psychologist during their session will never be discussed between them and another person. This helps establish trust between the two.

Reference: American Psychological Association. (1992). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct. American Psychologist, 47, 1597-1611.

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