Professional Ethics and Standards Committee
To provide consultation, education and peer advocacy to the members of the SDPA; To protect the interests of the public by enhancing professional knowledge and conduct; To maintain knowledge of current research and expertise regarding the ethical conduct of psychologists and psychotherapists and promote awareness to the larger membership regarding both new and relevant ethical considerations; To provide appropriate referrals and resources regarding ethical, legal and clinical issues.
The Professional Ethics and Standards Committee shall consist of at least five (5) members who shall be confirmed by the Board. The committee shall: 1) serve as an education and consultation resource for the membership; 2) refer individuals with a complaint to the appropriate regulatory agency; and 3) make recommendations to the Board regarding professional and ethical issues of general relevance to SDPA members. The committee is not disciplinary, nor does it serve in an enforcement capacity; rather, it exists to serve SDPA members and the community at large through education and consultation.
The SDPA Ethics and Standards Committee works to stay abreast of current and changing ethical and legal concerns relating to psychologists. We prepare articles for the San Diego Psychologist and also provide continuing education relating to ethical and legal topics. Our committee works as a team to offer optimal resources, references, and ethical and legal information for our members. This is a board-selected committee. Additionally, we provide on-call services for our members to respond to issues or concerns related to the practice of psychology. We try to respond to requests for consultation in a timely manner and strive to keep calls anonymous within ethical and legal parameters.
The SDPA Ethics and Standards Committee provides consultation through education. The committee and its members cannot provide legal advice nor can a specific course of action be advised for your situation. It is recommended that the advice of an attorney be obtained before making any decision that could have legal consequences. In order to provide the best possible consultation, the committee members collaborate with each other routinely on calls or requests for our resources. A record of all consultations is retained for seven years in a secure location in the SDPA office. The only identifying information on the record is the caller’s telephone number. This provides both a capability to reference contacts and a potential verification of a member’s effort to seek consultation.
D I S C L A I M E R
PROFESSIONAL ETHICS AND STANDARDS COMMITTEE 2017 ON-CALL SCHEDULE
If you have questions or need guidance regarding an ethical issue, please contact the on-call psychologist for the Ethics and Standards Committee. The schedule for 2017 is listed below. Please DO NOT contact any other committee members for a quicker response. The designated psychologist will return your call at his or her earliest convenience. Thank you for respecting the schedule.
Please note: On Call hours are normal business hours, Monday-Friday 9am - 5 pm, excluding holidays. If you have to leave a message for the On-Call Psychologist, please be sure to specify the best times to reach you.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS OF THE ETHICS AND STANDARDS COMMITTEE
Q: How does the SDPA Ethics and Standards Committee work to help its Members?
A: SDPA’s Ethics Committee supports our membership in several valuable ways. One of the most important services that the committee provides is an on-call service to our members to consult on ethical issues that may arise as a part of clinical and professional practice. We also provide continuing education courses at the twice-yearly SDPA Conferences, and provide resources for timely updates on ethical and legal issues from both APA and the California Board of Psychology. The Ethics and Standards Committee is not a disciplinary entity; rather it exists to serve SDPA members and the community at large by providing consultation on a variety of ethical issues, in accordance with the APA Ethics Code for Psychologists.
Q: How do I contact the committee if I need consultation on an ethical issue?
Contact information and the on-call schedule for the committee are located on the SDPA website, and are also listed in the weekly on-line news. You can call directly the on-call psychologist for that month at the contact phone number listed on the schedule. Please leave a message with the dates/times that you are available for a return call. If you are away from your computer and need the contact information, you can call the SDPA office at 858-277-1463, the greeting provides updated information about the name and contact number for the current on-call psychologist.
Q: How soon can I expect a response?
You can expect a call within one business day from the Ethics committee member who is on call for that month. Calls are received and returned during normal business hours, unless other arrangements are made. If you call on the weekend or a holiday, your call will be returned the next business day.
Q: What happens if I call a committee member for consultation?
Each consultation begins with a review of the procedure and the member is invited to ask questions about the procedure before being asked to consent to continue with the consultation. Then the member is asked to describe the situation about which they are seeking consultation. Frequently, calls have three components: ethical, legal, and clinical. Our primary role is to assist a caller in understanding how APA’s Ethical Principles apply to the situation in question. However, in discussing the ethical situation, clinical and legal issues are often identified and the member is encouraged to seek additional consultation to address those issues. On occasion, the on-call psychologist may seek consultation with another committee member with expertise in a particular area. If that is the case, no identifying information about the caller will be used. At each monthly meeting, calls are presented to the committee for review. Calls are presented anonymously –that is, no identifying information about the caller is used in the presentation of the call. On occasion, additional ideas and further follow-up may be suggested by the committee. If that is the case, the in-call psychologist will contact the caller with any added suggestions or input from the committee as a whole. The on-call psychologist completes a written summary of each consultation. The only identifying information on the summary is the caller’s phone number. These summaries are kept for seven years in a locked file in the SDPA office.
Q: I see that consultations are not a substitution for supervision - what does that mean?
Supervision is distinguished from consultation on many levels, but primarily distinguished through the lens of the different roles, responsibilities and relationships of each. In supervision, a "student" discusses cases on an in-depth basis and information is passed from a licensed person, who holds legal responsibility, to an unlicensed person. The unlicensed person is required to follow the directives of the licensed individual who is his supervisor and in this hierarchical model, the supervisor knows as much as possible about the case because the supervisor is, by extension, providing the treatment.
In consultation, a more lateral (vs. top-down) model, both parties are licensed and insured, and the recipient of the consultation, is responsible for providing treatment and is not required to follow the directives or advice of the consultant. In a consultation, the consultant knows only the information provided by the treating clinician. This lack of access to comprehensive information about a case can result in less accurate suggestions by the consultant versus the supervisor.
In both circumstances, individuals function with highest ethical intentions, the best interest of the patient and informed consent. In supervision, clients need to be informed that they are being seen by a supervisee who is not licensed and who is functioning under the licensure of a supervisor who is named and who will have access to their clinical records. In consultation, clients are informed that their therapist will be consulting with an individual regarding their case and that individual will be given minimal information regarding the client.
Q: Where can I find other resources on Ethical and Legal Issues?
See our helpful links below:
Decision Tree When Working Through Ethical Dilemmas
Sheets (2010) Complex Ethical Dilemmas: Sorting Through and Identifying Course(s) of Action
Sheets (2012) Will Confidentiality Survive Death?
This article in the California Psychologist written by Mary Harb Sheets, Ph.D. was previously published by the California Psychological Association, Vol. 45, No. 2, March/April, 2012.
Printed with permission of Mary Harb Sheets and CPA.
• American Psychological Association (2010) Quick Link to APA Ethics Code