Every discipline that has relatively autonomous control over its entry requirements, training, development of knowledge, standards, methods, and practices does so only within the context of a contract with the society in which it functions. This social contract is based on attitudes of mutual respect and trust, with society granting support for the autonomy of a discipline in exchange for a commitment by the discipline to do everything it can to assure that its members act ethically in conducting the affairs of the discipline within society; in particular, a commitment to try to assure that each member will place the welfare of society and individual members of society above the welfare of the discipline and its own members. By virtue of this social contract, psychologists have a higher duty of care to members of society than the general duty of care that all members of society have to each other.

The Canadian Psychological Association recognizes its responsibility to help assure ethical behaviour and ethical attitudes on the part of psychologists. Attempts to assure ethical behaviour and ethical attitudes include: (a) articulating ethical principles, values, and standards; (b) promoting those principles, values, and standards through formative and continuing education, supervision, peer modelling, and consultation; (c) developing and implementing methods to help psychologists monitor the ethics of their behaviour and attitudes; (d) adjudicating complaints of unethical behaviour; and (e) taking corrective action when warranted.

This Code articulates ethical principles, values, and standards to guide all members of the Canadian Psychological Association, whether scientists, practitioners, or scientist-practitioners. Although some of its ethical standards are specific to particular activities or contexts, its ethical principles and values are applicable whether members are acting in a research, direct service, teaching, supervision, administrative, management, employer, employee, student, trainee, consultative, peer review, editorial, expert witness, social policy, or any other role related to the discipline of psychology. The ethical principles and values also are applicable regardless of the communication modality used (e.g., spoken, written, or printed; in person, or remotely through telephone, text, audio, video, online communication or other means).

For more information about how the Fourth Edition differs from the previous version of the Code, please see Dr. Carole Sinclair’s article on pp. 36-37 of the Winter 2017 issue of Psynopsis.

Please note that the Companion Manual to the Canadian Code of Ethics for Psychologists and CPA’s web-based course “Being an Ethical Psychologist” are now being revised to reflect the changes in the Fourth Edition. However, the current versions of each of these will remain available until the updated versions are released.


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