Ethics Resources

New Simplified Rules and Procedures of the Ethics Committee

The APA Board of Directors approved revised Rules and Procedures of the Ethics Committee (PDF, 196KB)

The revised Rules, adopted in response to the recommendations of the APA Commission on Ethics Processes, are designed to simplify and streamline the APA adjudication process, making the Rules less legalistic and easier to comprehend. Under the new Rules, APA’s adjudication program concentrates its efforts on Ethics Committee review of serious ethics violations that could lead to expulsion.

Important changes in the Rules include:

  • The fair and effective “show cause” adjudication process is expanded. Currently, the show cause process requires a member to “show cause” why he or she should not be expelled if behavior meeting an expellable threshold results in one of a list of serious actions being taken against his/her license by a licensing board, his/her state psychological association membership, or if he or she is convicted of a felony. Under the new Rules, the list of serious actions for which the show cause process may be used is expanded to include any additional licensing board action significantly limiting the member’s license. In addition, disciplinary actions by other entities (such as a governmental body, faculty grievance committee, or civil or criminal court) can be considered for the show cause process if APA can obtain a record showing the adverse action, the expellable behavior, and that the proceedings afforded the psychologist due process.
  • The ethics complaint process is now reserved for serious complaints alleging expellable behavior (for example, sexual misconduct, insurance fraud, plagiarism) that would otherwise have no avenue for review. Individuals contacting APA wishing to file a complaint will also be provided information on other potential forums having a greater ability to review the complaint in depth and provide the types of resolution complainants are seeking.
  • Timelines are simplified, made more consistent throughout the Rules, and, in some cases, shortened.

The Report of the APA Commission on Ethics Processes

The APA Commission on Ethics Processes was established via APA Board of Directors’ recommendation and APA Council of Representatives’ approval as one of the first steps in a series of recommendations following the APA Independent Review (also known as the Hoffman Report). The commission was made up of 17 members with subject matter expertise in ethics, half psychologists and half professionals representing disciplinary fields other than psychology, including law, philosophy, psychiatry, social science and medicine. Commission members represented a diversity of perspectives, specialties, practice settings and careers, as well as human diversity. The purpose of the commission was to examine APA’s ethics processes and recommend changes. The commission made 12 specific recommendations for change in the Commission Report.

Read the Commission Report (PDF, 330KB)

American Psychological Association Ethics Code

Rules and Procedures

About the 2003 Code as amended 2010 and 2017

Ethics Rounds Monitor columns

APA Books on Ethics