The Application of Ethics
and Law in Daily Practice1
Have you ever reflected on your personal and professional values as they apply to what you do in biofeedback and applied psychophysiology? Do you know the Practice Guidelines and Standards for Providers of Biofeedback and Applied Psychophysiological Services (Striefel, Butler, Coxe, McKee, & Sherman, 1999) and The Ethical Principles of Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback (Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback "AAPB", 1995)? Do you know how to resolve an ethical dilemma? Do you know how to manage and minimize risk in your professional activities? If not, read on.
The intent of this chapter is to provide basic, up-to-date ethical and legal information that affects professional practice today, some decision-making information, a review of some core ethical principles, application examples, references for further reading, and (I hope) the development of an appreciation of ongoing education as a key for maximizing ethical behavior while simultaneously minimizing provider risk. Zuckerman (2003) lists four steps for ethical self-protection: being realistic, learning the rules (e.g., laws and ethical principles), developing an ethical sensitivity (awareness), and tightening up the procedures that you use (e.g., informed consent). So keep these four steps in mind as you read this chapter. Remaining current about ethical and legal issues is essential to professional survival. Fortunately, the overall risk of litigation or ethical complaints is small for the conscientious practitioner who continually strives to be competent (Zuckerman, 2003).
Some commonly used terms and concepts are defined in this section, and some definitions are interspersed throughout the chapter.
Professionals often try to resolve ethical situations by relying on their own personal values; however, this can be problematic, because not everyone's values are acceptable to others (Kitchener, 2000; Zuckerman, 2003). "Values," as used here, are a provider's moral likes, desires, and priorities (Kitchener, 2000; Striefel, 1997, 1998, 2003). "Ethics" simply means