New APA Ethics Code

Forensic Matters and the New APA Ethics Code: Great Care Went Into Crafting How the New Code Addresses Forensic Matters

            All people exist in economic, historical, political and social contexts. Psychologists are increasingly being called upon to comprehend how these contexts influence human behavior.

Why specialty guidelines addressing specific arenas are significant

Multicultural Education, Training, Research, Practice, and Organizational Change for Psychologists Guidelines recognize that psychology study continues to evolve, the society is also changing and the emerging data concerning the various needs for groups and individuals, historically disenfranchised or marginalized by psychology, as a result of their social group membership or identity and racial/ ethnic heritage (American Psychological Association, 2002). Such guidelines reflect the skills and knowledge required by professionals in the heart of the melodramatic historic sociopolitical changes, as well as the necessity for novel clients, markets and constituencies.

To the psychologists, the guidelines have a principal goal of providing the needs and rationale for addressing diversity and multiculturalism in organizational change, practice, research, training and education (Behnke, 2004). Secondly, it provides current empirical research in all disciplines, basic information, and other data supporting the proposed guidelines and emphasizes their significance. Third, it offers references to promote ongoing organizational change, research, practice, training and education methodologies. Finally, paradigms that widen the psychology purview as a profession are provided. The guidelines define multiculturalism. The guidelines are aspirational and recommend professional conduct and behavior for forensic practitioners.

Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychologists, what they pertain to and significance to a forensic psychology professional when conducting forensic assessments



In determining how competent one is to offer services in a certain matter, forensic psychologists consider various relevant factors including specialized nature and relative complexity of the service, experience and relevant training, the study and preparation they can allocate to the matter, and opportunities for consulting a professional with established competence in relevance to the subject matter (Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychology, 2010).  It is imperative that even expert forensic practitioners consult with colleagues.

Forensic psychologists aim at managing their professional conduct in a manner such that the rights of the affected are not impaired or threatened.


The client- forensic psychologist relationship is determined by several factors and includes exchange of information between the forensic psychologist and client, prior to or during a service or contact (Golding, 1990). Forensic psychologists are aware that relationships are established with people they retain their services with and with those they interact. The associated duties and obligations vary depending on the relationship’s nature.

Confidentiality and Privilege

Forensic psychologists realize that they have an ethical obligation to retain the discretion of information linked to a retaining party or client except when the retaining party or clientpermit disclosure or it is permitted or required by law. Forensic psychologists recognize that they should comply with properly served and noticed court orders in regard to information disclosure during assessments (Bank and Packer, 2007).



Methods and Procedures

Forensic psychologists strive to use suitable procedures and methods in their work. When conducting, consultations, treatment, examinations, scholarly investigations or educational activities, they seek to retain integrity by assessing the present problem or issue from all rational perspectives and look for information to test probable rival hypotheses differentially.

Public and Professional Communications

Forensic practitioners make efforts to ensure that their services’ products, public statements, testimonies and professional reports are communicated in a way that avoids deception and promotes understanding (Grisso, 2003). During assessments, forensic psychologists should facilitate understanding of disputes and evidence. Consistent with ethical and legal requirements, forensic practitioners should not withhold or distort opinions and relevant evidence during assessments.





American Psychological Association, 2002,Guidelines on Multicultural Education, Training, Research, Practice, and Organizational Change for Psychologists- American Psychological Association. (Online) Available at: <> (Accessed 25 September 2012).


Bank, S. and Packer, R 2007, Expert witness testimony: Law, ethics, and practice. Wiley & Sons.

Behnke, S 2004, ‘Forensic matters and the new APA Ethics Code’, American Psychological Association, vol. 35, no. 5, pp. 1-24.

Golding, S. L 1990,‘Mental health professionals and the courts: The ethics of expertise’,International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, vol. 13, no. 6,261-307.

Grisso, T 2003,Evaluating competencies: forensic assessments and instruments.2nd ed. Kluwer/Plenum.

Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychology, 2010, Fifth Draft8/1/10. (Online) Available at: <> (Accessed 25 September 2012).


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