Revision of Ethics Code Standard 3.04
Ethics Code Standard 3.04 (Avoiding Harm) has been revised to include subsection (b):
Standard 3.04 Avoiding Harm
(a) Psychologists take reasonable steps to avoid harming their clients/patients, students, supervisees, research participants, organizational clients, and others with whom they work, and to minimize harm where it is foreseeable and unavoidable.
(b) Psychologists do not participate in, facilitate, assist, or otherwise engage in torture, defined as any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person, or in any other cruel, inhuman, or degrading behavior that violates 3.04(a).
After a 60 day public comment period concerning two versions of a proposed revision of Standard 3.04, the Ethics Committee engaged in a detailed review of the resulting public comments by approximately 275 individuals or groups. In response to public comment, the term "torture" was defined by the Ethics Committee as “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person." In addition, the focus of the revision is on the behavior of the psychologist rather than on the setting in which the behavior occurs.
The Ethics Committee revised Standard 3.04 in response to a request from the APA Council of Representatives to consider a revision to the Ethics Code to incorporate the prohibitions surrounding psychologist's participation in national security interrogations as set forth in the Resolution to Amend the 2006 and 2013 Council Resolution to Clarify the Roles of Psychologists Related to Interrogations and Detainee Welfare in National Security Settings, to Further Implement the 2008 Petition Resolution, and to Safeguard Against Acts of Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in All Settings, the resolution passed by the APA Council in August 2015.
This revision to the Ethics Code was passed by the APA Council of Representatives on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016 and will become effective on Jan. 1, 2017.