Interactive learning on ethics
The British Psychological Society is launching a new eLearning course around ethics, developed by a group of members with expertise in the ethics of practise. Joanne Hudson (a Chartered Psychologist at Swansea University and Chair of the Working Group) told us: ‘Professional ethics is fundamental to all applied psychologists and this course allows members the opportunity to revisit key ethical principles and standards that guide their work.’
The course comprises five interactive modules, taking around two hours to complete. It is designed for practitioner psychologists and for those providing psychological services in the wider workforce; from those who are newly qualified to those who have been practising for a number of years. Course content will include a module on historical and current examples of ethics in applied settings, and an overview of current ethical standards. Participants will have the opportunity to explore an ethical case study in greater detail.
With each case study the course guides participants through a process of identifying ethical concerns, linking them to the BPS and HCPC Codes, and then using the Codes and a moral psychology framework to think through these concerns and conflicting principles, ending with practical decision making. There is a wide selection of cases to choose from including team working, supervision and social media, consent and confidentiality, and trading services. To complete the course, participants only need to complete one case study. However, participants will also have the opportunity to explore other case studies if they wish.
Roger Paxton, Chair of the Society’s Ethics Committee, said: ‘There’s no doubt that psychologists regard ethics as important; the Society receives many questions about ethics, and we’ve responded with an Ethical Enquiries page via www.bps.org.uk/ethics. The aim of the eLearning course is to provide further support to Society members by guiding them using a systematic approach to ethical decision making, centred on the BPS Code of Ethics and Conduct, the Health and Care Professions Council Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics, and a framework for ethical reasoning from moral psychology.’
Joanne Hudson added: ‘The course makes use of case studies and vignettes that focus on different domains of psychology, so that users can engage with examples that are relevant to them, making use of interactive tasks and reflection exercises to allow users to apply the content to their own circumstances and working environments. We are pleased to be offering this course informed and written by members for members.’
Paxton said: ‘As an example, one of our cases involves a vulnerable client whose difficulties are multiple and have worsened, but who now wishes to disengage from contact with the psychologist and does not consent to relatives or other services or colleagues being contacted. Here there are major concerns about avoidance of harm, consent and several other important principles.’
Paula Prendeville, a Chartered Psychologist, reported that the writing team sought guidance from a selection of applied practitioners to ensure that the course covered key ethical concerns that arise for Society members. Mansoor Mir, a Chartered Psychologist who leads a research ethics board at the Home Office, initially wondered how the writing process would evolve having such a wide representation of members on the team: ‘As we began to collaboratively create course materials, we quickly realised that as psychologists we had a lot more in common than we initially thought. There are fundamental principles of ethical practice that apply across different settings.’
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