This unit will examine contemporary professional ethical and legal issues pertaining to clinical and community psychology training and practice, both internationally and in Australia. The emphasis will be on conducting oneself professionally and ethically, developing ethical sensitivity and 'moral imagination', and learning to resolve ethical dilemmas using available resources. Professional practice issues relevant to a broad range of psychological interventions, the 2007 APS Code of Professional Conduct, 2013 National Practice Standards for the Mental Health Workforce, and examples of ethical dilemmas will be presented. Cultural values and expectations in the area of mental health care will be explored, particularly as these apply to multicultural, migrant and indigenous communities. Because reflective practice is essential to professionalism and ethical conduct, self-reflection (on one's attitudes, motivations, values, feelings and experiences) and reflection on one's interactions with others, including inter-professional contexts of client care, will constitute a significant learning focus. Rather than emphasising abstract principles, case studies of actual ethical scenarios will be employed to contextualise ethical deliberation and illustrate ethical dilemmas.

Unit details

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Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:
  1. Critically reflect on one's own experiences, motives and values and how these may impact on one's moral assumptions and ethical reasoning in professional practice;  
  2. Scrutinise the concept of professionalism and professional conduct in the context of psychology training and practice;  
  3. Analyse and apply knowledge of the law governing the practice of psychology in Australia and the operation of the Psychology Board of Australia and of the APS Code of Ethics and Current Guidelines;  
  4. Adapt ethical problem solving strategies, integrating key ethical and legal issues germane to the context, to address and resolve ethical dilemmas in a variety of professional settings;  
  5. Articulate the effects of cultural differences (including ethnic, gender, language and sexual orientation) on psychological work, particularly in cross- and multi-cultural practice; and  
  6. Demonstrate knowledge of inter-professional practice principles and opportunities and challenges posed by inter-professional collaboration.  


Assessment type Description Grade
Report Analysis of an interpersonal practice case scenario 20%
Portfolio Ethical autobiography and self-reflection exercise (Indicative word length: 2500 words) 40%
Test Ethical code knowledge test (Duration 60 minutes) 40%

Required reading

Ethical Practice in Psychology
Allen, A. & Love, A.W. (2010).
Chichester, UK, Wiley-Blackwell

Code of ethics,
Australian Psychological Society 2007,
Melbourne, Australia.

Ethical guidelines, 8th edn,
Australian Psychological Society 2008,
Melbourne, Australia.

Where to next?

As part of a course

This unit is studied as part of the following courses. Refer to the course page for information on how to apply for the course.

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