American Psychological Association Code of Ethics
Most people who are involved in behavioral interventions for people with autism spectrum disorders received some or all of their training through academic departments of psychology, educational psychology, school psychology or other closely related behavioral science disciplines (applied behavior analysis). B.F.Skinner who was the theoretical fountainhead of the field of applied behavior analysis received his PhD in psychology from Harvard and spent all of his career in departments of psychology (Minnesota, Indiana & Harvard) and O. I. Lovaas who conducted the
groundbreaking research leading to the widespread use of applied behavior analysis methods to treat young children with autism was trained in a psychology department (U of Washington) and spent all of his professional career as a faculty member in a department of psychology (UCLA). Nearly all of the concepts and terminology of applied behavior analysis and autism draw upon psychological research and theory. In our work with students, clients and with fellow professionals, our actions are guided by the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (2010 Amendments) of the American Psychological Association. It is useful periodically to remind ourselves of these basic ethical principles and take them to heart in our daily work with clients, their families and with fellow professionals.
Principle A: Beneficence and Nonmaleficence Psychologists strive to benefit those with whom they work and take care to do no harm. In their professional actions, psychologists seek to safeguard the welfare and rights of those with whom they interact professionally and other affected persons, and the welfare of animal subjects of research. When conflicts occur a
mong psychologists' obligations or concerns, they attempt to resolve these conflicts in a responsible fashion that avoids or minimizes harm. Because psychologists' scientific and professional judgments and actions may affect the lives of others, they are alert to and guard against personal, financial, social, organizational, or political factors that might lead to misuse of their influence. Psychologists strive to be aware of the possible effect of their own physical and mental health on their ability to help those with whom they work.
Principle B: Fidelity and Responsibility Psychologists establish relationships of trust with those with whom they work. They are aware of their professional and scientific responsibilities to society and to the specific communities in which they work. Psychologists uphold professional standards of conduct, clarify their professional roles and obligations, accept appropriate responsibility for their behavior, and seek to manage conflicts of interest that could lead to exploitation or harm. Psychologists consult with, refer to, or cooperate with other professionals and institutions to the extent needed to serve the best interests of those with whom they work. They are concerned about the ethical compliance of their colleagues' scientific and professional conduct. Psychologists strive to contribute a portion of their professional time for little or no compensation or personal advantage.
Principle C: Integrity Psychologists seek to promote accuracy, honesty, and truthfulness in the science, teaching, and practice of psychology. In these activities psychologists do not steal, cheat, or engage in fraud, subterfuge, or intentional misrepresentation of fact. Psychologists strive to keep their promises and to avoid unwise or unclear com
mitments. In situations in which deception may be ethically justifiable to maximize benefits and minimize harm, psychologists have a serious obligation to consider the need for, the possible consequences of, and their responsibility to correct any resulting mistrust or other harmful effects that arise from the use of such techniques.
Principle D: Justice Psychologists recognize that fairness and justice entitle all persons to access to and benefit from the contributions of psychology and
to equal quality in the processes, procedures, and services being conducted by psychologists. Psychologists exercise reasonable judgment and take precautions to ensure that their potential biases, the boundaries of their competence, and the limitations of their expertise do not lead to or condone unjust practices.
Principle E: Respect for People's Rights and Dignity Psychologists respect the dignity and worth of all people, and the rights of individuals to privacy, confidentiality, and self-determination. Psychologists are aware that special safeguards may be necessary to protect the rights and welfare of persons or communities whose vulnerabilities impair autonomous decision making. Psychologists are aware of and respect cultural, individual, and role differences, including those based on age, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, language, and socioeconomic status and consider these factors when working with members of such groups. Psychologists try to eliminate the effect on their work of biases based on those factors, and they do not knowingly participate in or condone activities of others based upon such prejudices.