Ethical Principles and Standards

Membership in the ASA commits members to comply with the standards of the ASA Ethics Code and to the rules and procedures used to enforce them. Lack of awareness or misunderstanding of an Ethical Standard is not itself a defense to a charge of unethical conduct.

These are aspirational goals to guide advisors toward the highest ideals of practice. The Ethical Standards set forth enforceable rules for conduct as psychologists. Most of the Ethical Standards are written broadly, in order to apply to advisors in varied roles, although the application of an Ethical Standard may vary depending on the context. The Ethical Standards are not exhaustive. The fact that a given conduct is not specifically addressed by an Ethical Standard does not mean that it is necessarily either ethical or unethical.

Principle A: Beneficence and Nonmaleficence
Advisors strive to benefit those with whom they work and take care to do no harm. In their professional actions, advisors seek to safeguard the welfare and rights of those with whom they interact professionally and other affected persons. When conflicts occur among psychologists’ obligations or concerns, they attempt to resolve these conflicts in a responsible fashion that avoids or minimizes harm. Advisors strive to be aware of the possible effect of their own physical and mental health on their ability to help those with whom they work.

Principle B: Fidelity and Responsibility
Advisors establish relationships of trust with those with whom they work. They are aware of their professional and scientific responsibilities to society and to the specific communities in which they work. Advisors uphold professional standards of conduct, clarify their professional roles and obligations, accept appropriate responsibility for their behavior and seek to manage conflicts of interest that could lead to exploitation or harm. They are concerned about the ethical compliance of their colleagues’ work and professional conduct.

Principle C: Integrity
Advisors seek to promote accuracy, honesty and truthfulness in their work, teaching and practice. In these activities advisorss do not steal, cheat or engage in fraud, subterfuge or intentional misrepresentation of their skills or insight. Advisors strive to keep their promises and to avoid unwise or unclear commitments. In situations in which deception may be ethically justifiable to maximize benefits and minimize harm, advisors have a serious obligation to consider the need for, the possible consequences of, and their responsibility to correct any resulting mistrust or other harmful effects that arise from the use of such techniques.

Principle D: Justice
Advisors recognize that fairness and justice entitle all persons to access to and benefit from the contributions of spiritual knowledge and to equal quality in the processes, procedures and services being conducted by advisors. Advisors exercise reasonable judgment and take precautions to ensure that their potential biases, the boundaries of their competence and the limitations of their expertise do not lead to or condone unjust practices.

Principle E: Respect for People’s Rights and Dignity
Advisors respect the dignity and worth of all people, and the rights of individuals to privacy, confidentiality, and self-determination. Advisors are aware of and respect cultural, individual and role differences, including those based on age, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, language and socioeconomic status and consider these factors when working with members of such groups. Advisors try to eliminate the effect on their work of biases based on those factors, and they do not knowingly participate in or condone activities of others based upon such prejudices.