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American Psychological Association Ethical Code Essay

A Code of Ethics can be an overly complicated document that seeks to embrace every detail of behaviors that will not be acceptable to senior company management if found out. Meanwhile employees are pressured to deliver results which will often be enhanced if they do not strictly adhere to the Code of Ethics. The contention is that ethical codes are important to the organization; there is an ethical code, so the organization must be ethical. To the employee, it defines boundaries so they know when they are crossing them. Not all ethical codes are equal.

If they protect employees from breaching some unwritten code, then they are good and fair. They must also be applied rigorously to senior management. It is normal for people who make rules to think that they should apply to others more than themselves, and that’s not a healthy way to look at it. As we have all learned, rules should apply to everyone for them to be just. If rules are made for only a certain group of people within an organization, the balance of power tips to one side unfairly and it leaves the organization and its consumers open to ethical breaches.

My source showing why codes of ethics are important. Ingram, David. “Importance of Creating a Code of Ethics for a Business.” Small Business. Houston Chronicle, 2014 Codes of ethics are very important because it guides decision making. It creates a cohesive understanding boundaries within an organization and it sets standards for interacting with external people. A well written, formal code of ethics can reduce ambiguity of certain rules and can serve as a guideline for making tough, and often controversial decisions. A code of ethics also plays an important role of protecting a companies and its employee’s reputation and where it stands legally when there is a breach of ethics by an individual person. A good code of ethics helps avoid not knowing what to do when one is confronted with a big dilemma.

When a code of ethics is written for businesses that operate overseas and/or in other countries, it can be vital that an organization abide by the code of ethics to avoid a very unfortunate misunderstanding in another country that may have drastically different views than your own. As I have shown, it is critically important for an organization to have a formal, well written code of ethics to set ethical standards for individuals within the organization. That way, when an individual breaches that ethical code, the organization can fall back on that code of ethics and say that what that individual did goes against the organizations standards. So generally codes of ethics are good, and needed. They serve a critical purpose in most organizations and serve as a guideline of how to conduct business. It safeguards the company against breaches of ethics because they have their own code of ethics that are written and can show it to prove where they stand whenever their standards are called into question.

My source showing what’s wrong with codes of ethics. Lunday, Jason. “Codes of Conduct: Typical Weakness and How to Overcome Them This article highlights what can be wrong with codes of ethics. One of the main problems with codes of ethics is that they may not be well constructed and not specifically address the companies specific needs and characteristics. Sometimes the standards in the code of ethics don’t clearly specify what an employee should do with certain challenges, and can sometimes put an employee in a dilemma abiding by the standards and suffering the consequences, or going against the code to get the job done. Many employees have indicated that codes of ethics are written with good intentions and convey good intentions, but most of the time they do not acknowledge the realities and practicalities of the business environment.

Some codes of ethics can set the wrong tone and seem too vague or even too legalistic. Employees have stated that some codes of ethics seem to be protective of top management rather than the whole company, especially those at the lower levels. What I have noticed with some codes of ethics is that they do sound too legalistic and they leave a lot of the common sense topics out. Most codes of ethics do not include advertising, but most companies advertise in some way. Some codes of ethics are created with benchmarks of other companies codes of ethics. When this happens, an organizations code of ethics might sound and look great, but it doesn’t fit their specific purpose and doesn’t address some of the most important aspects of the organization.

One Strength of the Code of Ethics.

Psychologists are involved in the difficult area of human behavior. On a daily basis they are dealing with people whose view of the world has often been distorted by their history. They may begin to lose their own guideposts. The Code of Ethics is a reference that can be consulted to make sure the psychologist does not stray from a moderate behavior path. If it creates conflicts for the practitioner the relevant Ethics Code can be taken up with a supervisor allowing for discussion and interpretation.

One Weakness of the Code of Ethics

The Council of Representatives of the APA developed the code. Anytime you have a committee design something you are likely to complicate it. Each representative has their own world view and in a committee setting feel they have to contribute more. The weakness is that adding more detail rather than making issues clearer can make them ambiguous. There are Ten Commandments in the bible and 89 ethical standards set by the APA.

One thing I saw and did not expect

I did not expect that the Code would exclude application to practitioners outside of work activities. While legally the Code probably cannot be enforced outside of work, if the Code is silent on that point it would imply that this should be a personal code anyway. By stating that it does not apply outside of work it implies that practitioners have to be on their best behavior at work and not the way they might behave outside of work. This weakens the practice of the code. An example of when the code might be used.

Standard 3 is a key Code in this line of work. As the patient has life issues their gratitude for help and verbal intimacy with the practitioner may lead to a relationship. The Code of Ethics is a reminder to not let this happen. While the Code of Ethics is restricted to work activities this area should apply if practitioner is in a work situation or not.

Explanation of why the code would be used

As in all occupations. ‘Do no harm’ must be the key ethical position. As the brain is a largely unknown organ, psychologists have to be very careful about their treatment of mental issues. Their patients are at various stages of walking towards a personal precipice, the practitioner cannot afford to give an accidental push. Code 3.08 covers exploitative relationships between practitioner and patient and is the most likely violation of code which must be reported. As patients are having trouble with their own reality a suggestion from the practitioner may be seen as ‘normal’ by the patient but not by the ethical code.

Works Cited

American Psychological Association Code of Ethics
Ingram, David. “Importance of Creating a Code of Ethics for a Business.” Small Business. Houston Chronicle, 2014. Web. 28 Oct. 2014. . Lunday, Jason. “Codes of Conduct: Typical Weakness and How to Overcome by Jason Lunday.” Corporate Compliance Insights. 17 June 2010. Web. 28 Oct. 2014. .

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