The Interaction between Ethics and the Law: The Ongoing Refinement of Ethical Standards for Psychologists in Canada

By Ogloff, James R.; Olley, Maureen C. | Canadian Psychology, August 1998 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

The Interaction between Ethics and the Law: The Ongoing Refinement of Ethical Standards for Psychologists in Canada


Ogloff, James R., Olley, Maureen C., Canadian Psychology


Abstract

The link between legal and ethical principles is clear and strong. Given the differences in law that exist between nations, it is important to have the Canadian Code of Ethics for Psychologists, a made-in-Canada code that can be responsive to developments in Canadian law relating to ethical principles. The authors discuss the relationship between the law and ethics, starting with a review of the options available for controlling the conduct of psychologists. They then demonstrate how the law influences the development and implementation of ethical standards by both deriving the principles of professional ethics and by reshaping the parameters of conduct by psychologists. The authors show that acting ethically generally leads to acting legally, an vice versa. A review of recent Canadian cases in which the decisions of provincial disciplinary decisions for psychologists were considered demonstrate that, for the most part, courts uphold decisions by licensing boards, particularly those that have employed fair procedures that comport to the principles of natural justice. Finally, the authors point to the continued need for systematically monitoring legislation and legal decisions to determine their influence on our ethical principles, and note that there is a role for provincial and national psychology bodies to lobby legislators and to intervene in cases when matters are being considered that affect the ethical conduct of psychologists.

Despite the great differences that exist between law and professional ethics, at the most basic level both the law and ethics share two fundamental goals: The regulation of behaviour and the protection of society. The consideration of the tenth anniversary of the first edition of Canadian Code of Ethics for Psychologists (1986/1991) necessarily requires that some attention be paid to the influence that the law has on ethics, and -- to a much lesser extent -- the effect that our ethics code has on the law. As this article will make clear, the line between the ethical regulation and the legal regulation of psychologists is blurred at best. Indeed, the law has considerable influence on both the behaviour of psychologists and the developments of the codes of professional ethics that have emerged in psychology.

From a legal perspective, the single most important contribution that the Canadian Code of Ethics for Psychologists (1991) has made is to provide us with a made-in-Canada code of ethics for Canadian psychologists. The borders between countries has little significance for psychology generally, particularly within North America and Western Europe. Indeed, the principles of learning or of human motivation and the like are just as relevant to people in Saskatoon as they are to those in Lincoln, Nebraska or Swansea, Wales. The same cannot be said for the law. There are considerable differences in both legal standards and legal procedures across national borders and legal jurisdictions. Further, the authority of cases decided by courts are limited to the legal jurisdiction over which the court has jurisdiction; therefore, decisions concerning the behaviour of psychologists in one nation -- or even within one province or state -- are not binding on other jurisdictions. Thus, to the extent that ethical principles must reflect and remain responsive to changes in law, it is critical that we in Canada have a national code of ethics. Although the Canadian Code of Ethics for Psychologists has not yet been adopted by all of the provinces, it has been adopted by most and is sure to eventually become the national standard.(f.1)

Both the law and professional ethics may be considered attempts to articulate, interpret, operationalize, and resolve conflicts between ethical principles (and values) that have evolved throughout the history of humankind and are operationalized in a variety of ways both within societies and communities.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

The Interaction between Ethics and the Law: The Ongoing Refinement of Ethical Standards for Psychologists in Canada
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?