Accountability is an extremely important issue with regard to ethics, as guidelines demonstrate a volume of information that is assumed to be known and practiced by school psychologists, the individual is therefore accountable for the appropriate application of them, as well as any other laws or rules that govern their direct contact arenas, as well as other areas of the broad practice. (Medway & Cafferty, 1992, p. 333)
In the NASP Guidelines the accountability issue is discussed with regard to supervisor duties, but is implied as a demonstrative aspect of review and policy change with regard to the training of qualified staff to meet the greater good of children, through all their service areas.
Supervisors lead school psychological services units in developing, implementing, and evaluating a coordinated plan for accountability and evaluation of all services provided by individual staff members and by the unit as a whole in order to maintain the highest level of services. Such plans include specific, measurable objectives pertaining to the planned effects of services on all relevant elements of the system and the students it serves. Evaluation is both formative and summative. (NASP, 2000, p. 57)
It is therefore assumed that accountability differs with regard to the area of service being provided and the level of knowledge that the individual has with regard to local laws, regulations and standards set forth by institutions and that ultimate accountability lies with the supervisor to make sure that the individuals in service are aware of these obligations.
Evidence-based practice is a new phenomena with regard to school psychology as it has become a pervasive issue with regard to education in general. (Kratochwill, 2004, p. 34) It is imperative that school psychologists, as new members of a growing research team, understand and apply evidenced-based counseling practices in an informed manner. Transitions from lest strict forms of practice, to those which require clear research and repeatability are frequently difficult, and the need to be current is essential as school psychologists become accountable for proof of application standards. The overall goal of the current model is to create systems that allow clinical practice to be a part of research and vise versa. The application of these models can be difficult, in a practical setting and practitioners must take particular care to demonstrate ethical principles in using practical situations as future evidence for care.
The integration of EBIs [evidence based interventions] into practice settings is not always well tailored to the daily demands of practitioners' lives. In educational settings, psychologists face administrative and practical barriers that are not always present in research settings. Thus, even when psychologists are aware of the empirical evidence supporting a technique or procedure, they may not infuse this evidence into practice because doing so would require more work than time permits or more resources than are available. (Kratochwill, 2004, p. 34)
To a large degree this is where modern post-grad training is essential to competency and application of ethics in utilizing empirical data, in and outside the counseling setting. As, an aspect of the mission of the NASP there is a clear sense that continued training and application are essential for this overarching theme of evidence-based practice to be successful. "School psychologists apply current empirically based theory and knowledge of learning theory and cognitive processes to the development of effective instructional strategies to promote student learning and social and emotional development." (NASP, 2000, p. 43) Again the core of the bridge between evidenced-based models and the actual counseling aspect of the profession is reliant on continuing education and supervisor review of current understanding with regard to individual school psychologists.
The appropriate application of ethics in the practice of school psychology is absolutely imperative as is explained by the fact that many of these professionals practice within a population that is intrinsically vulnerable. Though, some do not practice with children per se they are still practicing within a secondary population of high vulnerability, i.e. The mentally ill. There is a clear sense that NASP has created a broad guideline that is meant to express the general core values of ethic as they apply to school psychology and more specifically as they apply to counseling clients, be they children, parents, or key support personnel. There is also a clear sense that the advocacy of children as the primary client to be protected, is a fundamental mission of the NASP and in the case of the APA the definition of who is the primary client and what rights they have is also significant to ethical decision making. As can be seen in this overview of the ethical guidelines for school psychology there are many hard and fast themes that are expected to be followed in accordance with laws, rule and guidelines that apply to the individual psychologist and the information regarding why they are imperative also weaves through the documents to support such ethics. Direct patient care is an essentially difficult area as the personal and often unexpected outcomes of such care can be potentially harmful or exponentially helpful to a student and his or her family and avoidance of the former should guide all ethical decisions in the area of direct client counseling with students, parents and key support professionals.
American Psychological Association. (2002) Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code Of Conduct.
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