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Ethical Enquiries

The Society provides a number of important guidelines designed to inform and assist our members in the practical and professional application of psychology and in resolving ethical dilemmas.

The advice offered by the Society in response to ethical and practice enquiries received, is normally drawn from the following guidelines:

The Society has also produced the Ethics Guidelines for Internet-mediated Research.

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 decision-making, together with the needs of others and the specific circumstances. No guidance can replace the need for psychologists to use their own professional judgement. Effective practice means exercising this professional judgement in a defensible way that does not put clients or the public at risk, or undermine, or call into question the reputation of the profession as a whole.

If you are experiencing an ethical or professional practice dilemma we advise you to consult the documents above and apply the information to your situation. Members often find it useful to talk through their situation with other experienced colleagues, including their supervisor and/or line manager. Sometimes it may be necessary to seek advice from a union, HR department or it may be necessary to seek legal advice.

The Society cannot give legal advice or provide practical support to members facing a complaint. For that reason, the Society strongly recommends that members consider taking out professional indemnity insurance. In some cases, the legal helpline of the indemnity insurers may be able to offer some legal advice.

The following information is provided to reflect the advice offered in response to the most frequent enquiries received.
 

If you wish to conduct research independently, we recommend that you have a look at the Code of Human Research Ethics produced by the Society.

Section 10.3 specifically focuses on independent practitioners not attached to a university or the NHS.

With regard to consent concerning research, section 4 of the Code of Human Research Ethics has some helpful information on obtaining valid consent.

For information on obtaining informed consent in professional practice, please consult section 6 of the Practice Guidelines. This section covers:

  • Informed consent for court
  • Informed consent with children and young people
  • Informed consent with people who may lack capacity
  • Informed consent with people as employees
  • Informed consent with detained persons

For information on confidentiality whilst undertaking Research, section 5 of the Society’s Code of Human Research Ethics has some helpful information on this.

For information on managing data and confidentiality in professional practice, please consult section 7 of the Practice Guidelines. This section covers:

  • Information governance
  • Confidentiality
  • Confidentiality when safeguarding
  • Confidentiality for the court
  • Confidentiality with children and young people
  • Confidentiality with detained persons
  • Confidentiality obligations during training

For information on safeguards for working with vulnerable populations when conducting research, section 10.1 of the Society’s Code of Human Research Ethics has some helpful information on this. This sections covers:

  • Children
  • Persons lacking capacity
  • Individuals in a dependent or unequal relationship

For information on safeguarding in professional practice, please consult section 4 of the Practice Guidelines. This section covers:

  • Safeguarding children
  • Safeguarding adults at risk of harm
  • Terrorism and extremism

If you cannot find the information you need here please email [email protected]

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