Professional Associations and State Government Agencies Term Paper

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Professional Associations and State Government Agencies

Addressing Potential conflicts in jurisdictional authority of APA, State Bodies & Other Authorities

Identification of Potential conflicts in jurisdictional authority of APA, State Bodies & Other Authorities

Management of Complaints by State Bodies & Other Agencies

Relationship between APA, ASPPB & NRHSPP

Practicing psychology in United States is governed by the various authorities. The eminent authorities providing code of conduct for the psychology professionals are State laws, American Psychological Association, State boards of psychology, Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) and National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology (NRHSPP). Where these bodies have a general purpose of facilitating the psychology professionals and enhancing the standards of their service, there are instances where their respective codes of conducts are at conflict. It is up to the professionals to ensure that these conflicts are identified a resolved in the most suitable manner and also that they are aware of the jurisdiction of these bodies and the priority status that they have over one another.

Addressing Potential conflicts in jurisdictional authority of APA, State Bodies & Other Authorities

APA Code of conduct has been addressing the areas that are related to resolution of conflicts that may arise within the psychotherapy relationship or professional work place since its inception. There have been various amendments made in the Code of Ethics of APA since 1953. The possible reasons for such amendment is a clear distinction that exists in the priority levels of ethics defined by governing bodies and by the jurisdiction of the state. In every field of legal system, it is stated that mere ignorance to law is no excuse in case of failure of compliance.

This is the reason why APA also supports the promulgation of law. As per the amendment made in 2002 in APA Code of ethics, if the psychologist faces a conflict between the between state laws, APA Ethical Principles for Psychologists and Code of Conduct, rules promulgated by the state psychology board, and his personal values, assuming that the ethics code levied by APA provides a higher ethical standard to maintain, the psychologist is expected to commit to Code of Ethics and must make this commitment known to the governing bodies (which can be the management of the employer or any other state body). All the necessary measures must be taken to reduce this conflict however in case this resolution is impossible to obtain, the psychologist is expected to demonstrate adherence to the judiciary, prevailing legal system or other regulations provided by the governing body ensuring that the human rights are not violated (APA, 2002).

Where the older amendments clearly define that the legal system and other governing bodies have a prior status in case of conflict appearance, the amendment made in 2010 have made the mode of conflict resolution even more clear. This amendment has been made in the light of circumstances arose in the Bush Administration in the interrogation methodologies. The earlier version of 2002 defined that the legal system provisions and the policies of the governing authority (which includes the organizational policies as well) will prevail if conflict arises and is beyond resolution. Such language is now deleted without any reference to the priority status given and a single sentence is added, "Under no circumstances may this standard be used to justify or defend violating human rights (APA, 2010)."

Hence, now the priority is not given to body but to the defense of human rights instead of policies and procedures.

Identification of Potential conflicts in jurisdictional authority of APA, State Bodies & Other Authorities

Where APA Code of Conduct has been designed, amended and redrafted time and again, to bring it in accordance with general law which is uniform globally, there are various state laws which have a conflicting nature when it comes to comparison between the validity of APA Code of conduct or the prevailing legislations and policies of the governing body. One of the major areas which show a conflict between APA and state law is the expression and testimony required from the psychologist.

It is generally evident that APA Code of ethics puts special emphasis on maintaining clients' confidentiality. For this purpose, the psychologist or the counselor is required to maintain the necessary measures required for this purpose and is expected to take considerable care for avoiding unauthorized use. In an extreme case, there are also legislations present which further enhance this ethical standard described by APA. However, there are instances when the state law requires the psychologist to act in the opposite manner.

A clear example is the state's requirement from the psychologist to provide client's medical records. For this purpose, a subpoena is issued which is a legal document requiring the therapist to appear in front of court and provide testimony by providing or producing the required documents. It is important to note that the subpoena is provided by the therapist on court's notice and does not make him / her party to the legal proceedings. Usually, legal service is done by a professional, sheriff or someone else, who delivers a copy in person or leaves it at the intended recipient's residence or place of business (Zur, 2010).

Providing patient / client's record to any other party is refrained by APA Code of conduct. The therapist is expecting to acquire prior permission from the client in the first place. However, in case of denial from the client, the therapist has to face a conflict between the legal requirement and the APA standards which act as a core of this basic practice. At face value, HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) allows for the release of records in response to a subpoena without the client's consent or even their knowledge. However, there are instances where state law is more protective of client's privacy than HIPAA. In such scenario, whichever sets the higher standard, will be followed.

Considering this clause, if the state law requires the therapist to violate the client's privacy, the therapist is forced to do it. Although current amendment in 2010 refrains any violation of human rights but the statement itself is rather vague to provide protection to the client as well as the psychotherapist.

Management of Complaints by State Bodies & Other Agencies

It is important for a psychotherapist to understand the administrative role of the state bodies, APA and state legislation. This administrative role clearly defines the mechanism which is required to be followed in case of any complaint filed against the psychologist. As far as the jurisdictional authority is concerned, there are various forums where the complaints against the psychotherapist can be filed. These forums vary from State board of psychology to ethics committees of national, state or provincial, associations, courts, agencies, institutions. However, the most suitable forum which is generally acceptable in many states is the State Board of Psychology. Even in the case where the complaint is filed simultaneously in the SBOP and APA, preference would be given to state body. However, in case of state court, preference would be given to the court proceedings. It is important to understand that the proceedings of the Board are governed by their own code of conduct and the administrative law of the state (not the criminal or civil law)

Generally the complaints are filed where the psychotherapist is found to be involved in patient's sexual or drug abuse, violation of confidentiality, providing unlicensed services, fraudulent activities, making monetary transactions with patient's referrals, unprofessional, unethical, or negligent acts, has been exercising prejudice or has been operating in multiple roles with the patient. The given boards have no jurisdiction over fee related distributes, situations arising as a result of personal conflicts and also over therapists who are licensed by other bodies. However, in case the complaint is lodged, it is the responsibility of the board to notify the concerned agency and address the complaint with the minimum involvement (Bricklin et al. 2003).

As far as the mechanism of filing the complaint is concerned, it can be filed by the patient, client, and any concerned personnel or by the board itself (if it identifies the misconduct). The judicial power exercised by the board is given by the state law. Most of these state boards have electronic media and complaint centers where complaints can be filed. These complaints are mostly filed in written and require the person to declare his/her name as well (with fewer exceptions) i.e. To lodge a signed complaint. Every Board has its respective mechanism of addressing the complaint, investigating it and taking respective actions and providing psychologist their respective rights (CBOP, 2012).

Relationship between APA, ASPPB & NRHSPP

As far as distinction between APA, ASPPB and NRHSPP is concerned, it is important to understand their respective roles. American Psychological Association is the largest body governing the education and operations of the psychologists operating in United States. Similarly, NRHSSP has its certain objectives which entail educating, promoting, providing distinction, enhancing the contribution of health service psychologists and identifying…[continue]

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