MSCP Code of Ethics (2015)

Ethical guidelines for Registered Clinical Psychologists

Introduction 

The Malaysian Society of Clinical Psychologists (MSCP) recognizes its obligation to set and uphold the highest standards of professionalism, and to promote ethical behaviour, attitudes and judgements on the part of clinical psychologists by: 

  • Being mindful of the guiding principle in protecting the public 

  • Expressing clear ethical principles, values and standards 

  • Setting the standards of qualification in the practice of the profession 

  • Setting the standards for post-graduate training in the profession 

  • Setting the standards for professional competence 

  • Promoting such standard by education and consultation through 

o Developing and implementing methods to help psychologists monitor their professional 

behavior and attitudes 

  • Investigating complaints of unethical behavior; taking corrective action when appropriate, and 

learning from the experience

  • Assisting psychologists with ethical decision making 

  • Providing opportunities for discourse on these issues 

  • Maintaining a registry of qualified clinical psychologists in Malaysia 

 

This Code of Ethics and Conduct should guide all members of MSCP and should be read in conjunction with MSCP’s Constitution. 

 

In formulating this Code, a wide range of existing codes from the American Psychological Association, the British Psychological Society, and the Australian Psychological Society were referred to. This Code is based primarily on the Ethical Principles and Code of Conduct of the American Psychological Association, 2010. 

 

MSCP has also considered the wide range of contexts in which psychologists work. Examples of the roles undertaken by psychologists include those of clinician, consultant, counselor, educator, employer, evaluator, expert witness, lecturer, manager, policy developer, practitioner, researcher, social interventionist, supervisor, or therapist. These examples are not exhaustive. 


In this Code the term “psychologist” refers to any registered psychologist under MSCP. 
Psychologists will also need to familiarize themselves with the legal framework, regulatory requirements and other guidance relevant to the particular context in which they work. 


In this code, the term “client” refers to any person/s with whom a psychologist interacts on a professional basis. The client could be an individual (such as patient, student, or research participant), a couple, a family group, an educational institution, a private organization, including the Court. The ethics code applies only to psychologists’ activities that are part of their scientific, educational, and professional roles as psychologists. The purely private conduct of psychologists is not within the purview of the ethics code. 


Psychologists are likely to need to make decisions in difficult, changing and unclear situations. 
MSCP expects that the Code will be used to form a basis for consideration of ethical questions, with the Principles in this Code being taken into account in the process of making decisions, together with the needs of the client and the individual circumstances of the case. However, no Code can replace the need for psychologists to use their professional and ethical judgement. If a complaint is made, the Society will consider the individual circumstances, and the explanation given by the psychologist of how the decision was reached, as well as the foreseeable consequences of that decision, in judging whether there has been any professional misconduct. 


If members were found to have violated the ethical code, MSCP reserves the right to impose sanctions which could include termination or suspension of MSCP membership, sanction noted in or removal from the registry, and may notify other bodies or individuals of its actions. 


In making decisions on what constitutes ethical practice, psychologists will need to consider the application of technical competence and the use of their professional skill and judgement. They should also be mindful of the importance of fostering and maintaining good professional relationships with clients and others as a primary element of good practice.

Ethical Principles

The MSCP Code of Ethics and Conduct is based on four Ethical Principles, which constitute the general guidelines within which ethical issues are considered. These principles are meant to be aspirational in nature, that is, to guide and inspire psychologists toward the highest ethical ideals of the profession. These principles alone are not obligations, and therefore cannot be basis for ethical sanctions. The Ethical Standards (or Code of Conduct) are derived from these principles. Where there are gaps and ambiguity in the Ethical Standards (or Code of Conduct), the Ethical Principles should be consulted to guide psychologists in their ethical decision-making. The four Ethical Principles are: 

Beneficence & Non-malfeasance 

Psychologists’ primary guide is to DO NO HARM and endeavor to promote the health and welfare of those they work with. This applies to people they interact professionally and other affected persons, as well as the animal subjects of research. In the face of conflicting interests, concerns and obligations, psychologists are committed to resolve the conflicts in a manner that is responsible and avoids/minimizes harm. Keeping in mind their professional influence on the lives of others, they must take care to ensure competency in their professional work, including but not limited to continuing professional development. They also strive to safeguard against any personal, financial, social, organizational, or political factors that might result in misuse of their influence. As human beings, psychologists strive to be aware of the possible effect of their own physical and mental health on their ability to help and/or protect those with whom they work. 

Respect for Human Rights and Dignity 

Psychologists respect the inalienable rights of all people, which includes their rights to privacy, 

confidentiality and self-determination. Regardless of age, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, 

culture, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, language and socioeconomic status; psychologists treat all people with dignity. In situations whereby persons or communities show vulnerabilities that impair their autonomous decision making, psychologists are careful to ensure special safeguards to protect the rights and welfare of these individuals or communities. In view of cultural and individual diversity, psychologists strive to be aware of their personal biases in order to respect differences in the people they work with. They also do not knowingly participate in or condone activities based upon prejudices or discrimination against a particular person or group.

 

Integrity 

Psychologists strive to uphold accuracy and honesty in the science, teaching and practice of psychology. Recognizing their position of power and trust, psychologists do not condone or participate in any dishonest activities, including stealing, fraud, or intentional misrepresentation of fact. Where deception may be ethically justifiable to maximize benefits and minimize harm, psychologists strive to avoid or minimize potential harmful effects or mistrust that might arise from the use of such techniques. Recognizing their own biases and limits to their objectivity, psychologists strive to maintain proper boundaries with those they work. They also identify and avoid potential conflicts of interest. In their interpersonal relationships, psychologists refrain from exploiting people for personal or organizational benefits. They also take care to avoid disreputable conduct that reflects negatively on the profession or on their professional ability as psychologists. 

Responsibility & Justice 

Psychologists are aware of their professional and scientific responsibilities to society and to the specific communities in which they work. They strive to uphold the professional standards of conduct and accept responsibility for their behaviors and professional decisions. To ensure the highest standards of their profession, psychologists show concerns about the ethical compliance of their colleagues’ scientific and professional conduct. Psychologists strive to be socially responsive and responsible to the fundamental needs of the larger society. This may include but is not limited to contributing a portion of their professional time and expertise for little or no compensation or personal advantage. In practicing fairness and justice, psychologists recognize that all persons are entitled to equal access to the knowledge and services of psychology. Psychologists also take care to ensure that their potential biases and the limits of their competence or expertise do not lead to or condone unjust practices. 

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