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1.05 Reporting Ethical ViolationsIf an apparent ethical violation has substantially harmed or is likely to substantially harm a person or organization and is not appropriate for informal resolution under Standard 1.04, Informal Resolution of Ethical Violations, or is not resolved properly in that fashion, psychologists take further action appropriate to the situation. Such action might include referral to state or national committees on professional ethics, to state licensing boards, or to the appropriate institutional authorities. This standard does not apply when an intervention would violate confidentiality rights or when psychologists have been retained to review the work of another psychologist whose professional conduct is in question. (See also Standard 1.02, Conflicts Between Ethics and Law, Regulations, or Other Governing Legal Authority.)

Standard 1.05 requires psychologists to report ethical violations committed by another psychologist only if the violation has led to or has the potential to lead to substantial harm and informal resolution is unsuccessful or inappropriate. The extent to which most ethical violations have or are likely to cause substantial harm will depend on the professional or scientific context and the individuals involved. As a rule of thumb, behaviors likely to cause substantial harm are of a kind similar to sexual misconduct, insurance fraud, plagiarism, and blatant intentional misrepresentation (APA, 2010b, Section 5.3.5.1.1).

Standard 1.05 also offers nonbinding examples of available reporting options, including filing a complaint with the APA or one of its state affiliates if the offending psychologist is a member of that organization, referring the case to a state licensing board if the ethical violation also violates state law, or filing a complaint with the appropriate committee in the institution or organization at which the offending psychologist works. As does Standard 1.04, Standard 1.05 prioritizes the protection of confidentiality over the duty to report an ethical violation.

answer question to case :☑ A client told a psychologist about the sexual misconduct of another psychologist with whom the client had previously been in psychotherapy (Standard 10.05, Sexual Intimacies With Current Therapy Clients/Patients). Judging that it was clinically appropriate, the psychologist discussed with the client the unethical nature of the previous therapist’s behavior and the available reporting options. The psychologist, respecting the client’s request to keep the sexual relationship confidential, did not pursue reporting the violation (Standard 4.01, Maintaining Confidentiality).

  • What happened in the case?
  • What are the specific ethical issues at hand?
  • In the case example, what did the psychology professional do to resolve the issue, if anything?
  • Do you agree with the psychology professional’s response? Why or why not?
    • Establish two alternative ways that the situation could be resolved: one informal resolution and one formal resolution.

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