Ethical issues in the professional work of psychologists: state of affairs in Slovenia

Article English OPEN
Tina Zupan ; Valentin Bucik (2000)
  • Publisher: Slovenian Psychologists' Association
  • Journal: Psihološka Obzorja (issn: 2350-5141)
  • Subject: professional ethics | psychology | code of ethics | cognizance | competence | training | education | Slovenia | Psychology | BF1-990

The aim of the research was to determine the state of affairs regarding professional ethics of Slovene psychologists, particularly regarding the implementation of ethical principles and psychologists' and students' knowledge of ethics and procedures in the cases of ethical dilemmas and violations. Two dedicated questionnaires were designed by the authors. 800 Slovene psychologists received the questionnaire and 150 of them responded. There were also 56 psychology students involved in the study. The results show some problematic issues such as: record keeping, exceptions of confidentiality, access to personal data, the content of informed consent, incompetence, copying of literature and diagnostic instruments – even not standardised ones, psychology students as subjects in psychological research, and lack of information on ethical aspects of students' practical work. Psychologists and students reported inadequate knowledge of professional ethics and suggested various kinds of ethical education. Institutions mostly enable psychologists to work within the Code of ethics. There are, however, conflicts regarding access to data and professional autonomy. Psychologists report conflicts between law and ethics, incorrect reports in media and lack of control over professional ethics. In the case of ethical violation psychologists do less than they should. They emphasise the problem of incompetence. The frequency and seriousness of certain violation were estimated. Ways of verifying knowledge, stimulating ethical conduct and taking different measures in the case of violations were suggested. The state of affairs in different working environments of psychologists was also described. Results show that psychologist who have worked in the field for a shorter period answer more frequently contrary to the Code of Ethics. Students' knowledge of ethics is mostly very satisfactory. The study emphasises the ethical aspects of psychological practice in Slovenia. It points to the issues that should be further analysed by the Slovene Psychological Association. It is a valuable source of information for the national Ethical Committee. Most important implications are that work to develop education in ethics and to pass the law on psychology in Slovenia should be pursued.
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