Limitations of the American Psychological Association’s Code of Ethics

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The aim of the American Psychological Association (APA) and Code of Ethics is to direct the practitioner in operational mode while setting the expected standards as well. The fundamental aspect of civil liability is the code of ethics. The system also makes the decision-making process smooth. Obviously, when it comes to choosing the right alternative, the healthcare system continues to face different obstacles. One of the major limitations of this structure revolves around the decision-making process during ethical dilemmas. It is worth noting that selecting one option over another does not necessarily mean it is the right choice. However, the moral standards of the APA are structured in a manner that dilemmas are handled systematically using relevant theories. For instance, therapists are bound to maintain patient confidentiality even under alarming circumstances, e.g., imminent death of the victim (American Psychological Association). Perhaps a client is suffering from an incurable disease and shares it with the psychologist. In this event, the practitioner needs to show professionalism as guided by the ethical codes. As currently designed, APA and moral principles do not provide the best mechanism for handling the situation. Though the victim is granted autonomy, an appropriate balance ought to be instituted to cover for this limitation.

Another limitation entails accessibility. The current healthcare system has been improvised to meet the ever-rising medical demands. Moreover, standards have been introduced to enhance the quality of service. Nonetheless, improvements have not benefited some groups who opt not to seek medical advice. For instance, military individuals including the returnees do not seek psychological services. The army policies, environment, and culture prevent the victims from accessing care. Furthermore, military activities often contradict the therapists’ professional values resulting in a variety of ethical dilemmas such as limited confidentiality, multiple agencies, as well as relationships (Frey 283). The contradiction between the code of ethics of the APA and other fields such as the military is a fundamental limitation that bars the victims from accessing psychological services. In other words, even if the quality of service is enhanced via moral standards, without an equilibrium to harmonize the different fields, appropriate care may not be accorded to the victims.

Incompetency is another limitation of the code of ethics. Competence is a broad subject that includes privacy and confidentiality as well as education and training. Professionals who are mandated to assist victims in improving their mental states are prone to the same danger. In other words, they are also bound to be affected by what the patients share. Competent practitioners ought to observe all the elements of the code of ethics, but it is often not the case. The fact that these professionals are humans limits their capabilities. For instance, a practitioner may share patient information with his/her colleagues if it is overwhelming.

Overall, the ethical codes are meant to provide a guideline that practitioners utilize. Even with improved systems, there are unwavering limitations that lessen efficiency. For example, the psychologists are humans; hence, can be overwhelmed by client information to the extent that they disregard the privacy and confidentiality element and share the same. On the other hand, accessibility remains a fundamental issue, particularly in contradicting fields like the military. The decision-making process is still not highly efficient due to unavoidable circumstances. It is, therefore, paramount that more studies are undertaken to solve the missing elements that could enhance the system.

Works Cited

American Psychological Association. “Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct.” 2010, pp. 1-18, www.apa.org/ethics/code/principles.pdf.

Frey, Rae Anne M. “Ethical Challenges for Military Psychologists: When Worlds Collide.” Journal of Ethics & Behavior 27.4, 2016, pp. 283-296.

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