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Code of Ethics and Conduct: Consultation on a new Code

25 April 2017

The British Psychological Society Code of Ethics and Conduct has remained essentially unchanged since 2005. Since that time there have been a number of significant changes in the way that psychologists work, the Health and Care Professions Council now regulates professional psychology, and the Society has produced a number of important documents that encapsulate how psychologists now think and behave in the ethical and professional domains.  The most significant of these are the forthcoming Professional Practice Guidelines and the Code of Human Research Ethics (2014).

Because of these changes the Ethics Committee has had another look at the Code of Ethics and Conduct.  Since much of the information that it used to contain is now contained elsewhere, and is explained and elaborated in those places, it was felt that it would be appropriate to seek to simplify the Code and bring it into line with other developments.  It remains the core document that reflects the values that we share as psychologists; those core values inform our thinking and action.

We now wish to enter into a wider consultation with all the membership, and as with the original Code, with a wide range of other professional bodies, stakeholders, and user groups. At the bottom of this page you can access the old Code, and alongside it our proposed new Code.  We have also provided the Code of Human Research Ethics (CHRE) and an outline of how elements of the current Code are included in the CHRE and the forthcoming Practice Guidelines. The Guidelines aim to define good practice for all psychologists whether registered, chartered or in training and offer guidance for decision making. They have been designed for broad application across the full range of applied psychology.

Please note that as the Guidelines are currently being finalised we are unable to provide a copy of the document at this stage. 

The Society expects that the guidelines will be used to form a basis for consideration, with the principles being taken into account in the process of making decision, together with the needs of others and the specific circumstances.

Once you have had a chance to look at the old and new Codes we would be grateful if you would please comment providing the attached response form.

We believe that Psychology is an ethical profession.  We further do not believe that these changes affect our core values and principles, or what it means to be a Psychologist and to act ethically in our profession.  But we are very mindful of the need to consult widely to avoid dangers of enthusiastic and well-meaning groupthink.  We anticipate that this consultation will be a rigorous process; but our timescales are months rather than the eight years that it took to develop the original Code.

It is intended that when all the comments have been collated they will be reviewed by the Ethics Committee in October, then to the Board of Trustees in November for final approval.  

Thank you for your time and for taking part.

The deadline for responses is 21st June 2017.

For any queries, please contact Dr Lisa Morrison Coulthard, Lead Policy Advisor ([email protected]). ​

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