The Ethical Behavior of a Forensic Psychologist


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Two forensic psychologists who are both respected professionals of the same field of expertise may one day find themselves contradicting each other in a legal court

The Ethical Behavior of a Forensic Psychologist

  1. 1. The Ethical Behavior of a Forensic Psychologist
  2. 2. The ethical behavior of a forensic psychologist is often a subject of speculation. Two forensic psychologists who are both respected professionals of the same field of expertise may one day find themselves contradicting each other in a legal court.
  3. 3. This kind of situation led to an early creation of standards of ethical behavior in forensic psychology. These standards provide guidelines for psychologists who are regularly engaged in providing expert psychological knowledge during legal proceedings and all events that involve psycho-legal issues.
  4. 4. Some of the major aspects of these guidelines reveal distinct differences from the standards of ethical practice of clinical psychologists.
  5. 5. Non-Maleficence versus Impartiality The dogma of all psychologists to do no harm is sometimes considered to be in stark contrast with the role of the forensic psychologist. /uploads/2009/ 03/deception.jpg
  6. 6. The testimonies of forensic psychologists are sometimes used and manipulated by lawyers to convince a jury to deliver a guilty verdict. Thus, the non-maleficence principle in clinical psychology is transformed into an impartiality principle in forensic psychology.
  7. 7. During his testimony, the forensic psychologist is ethically bound to disclose not only the methods used in a psychological evaluation, but also the limitations of such methods and all existing theories that may support or contradict these methods.
  8. 8. Integrity versus Trustworthiness Clinical psychology demands that its professionals must be accurate and honest.
  9. 9. Clinical psychologists are allowed to intentionally conduct deceptive techniques as long as these can be ethically justified. Forensic psychologists do not have this luxury.
  10. 10. In forensic psychology, all psychological evaluations must be documented as they are subject to judicial scrutiny. Compared to those in clinical practice, forensic psychologists adhere to higher standards of documentation because their conclusions are sometimes used in legal proceedings.
  11. 11. Beyond Justice In clinical psychology, justice is promoted by exercising precautions and good judgment to avoid personal biases.
  12. 12. All psychologists must ensure that their professional limitations and personal opinions will not affect their conclusions. But in forensic psychology, there is a requirement to go beyond what is just and right.
  13. 13. If the forensic psychologist has previous experiences or activities, personal or professional relationships, or moral values that may affect or impede good judgment, he should refuse to participate or minimize involvement in a given case.
  14. 14. The forensic psychologist needs to anticipate all sources of conflicts of interest before agreeing to become an expert witness. During the course of their practice, forensic psychologists must adhere to higher ethical standards of behavior due to the nature of their profession.
  15. 15. Forensic psychology and clinical psychology may share similar concepts of rights and responsibilities, the same confidentiality rules, and parallel methods and procedures, but the environments in which they work are vastly different.
  16. 16. Unlike clinical psychologists, forensic psychologists do not always work in a pleasant office setting. They may evaluate patients whose psychological pathology led to violent crimes.
  17. 17. They deal with lawyers whose goals are biased. In the face of all these obstacles, forensic psychologists must demonstrate and promote their profession as a well-respected, valuable, and important part of society.
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