NASP Principles for Professional Ethics

Instructor: Christopher Sailus

Chris has an M.A. in history and taught university and high school history.

In this lesson, we explore the guidelines laid out by the National Association for School Psychologists for the conduct, behavior, and philosophy of school psychologists across the country.

NASP Principles for Professional Ethics

Grade school, from kindergarten on through high school, is one of the defining formative experiences of any child's life. Both in terms of learning new things and learning how to interact socially, school can be exciting, life-changing, and at times, terrifying. Teachers and parents do their best to help students along the way, but sometimes a little extra help is needed. In some cases, this is where the school psychologist steps in. Both in evaluating a child and in recommending possible treatments for young minds, the school psychologist has a grave responsibility.

In this lesson, we'll explore the code of ethics set out for these important actors by the National Association for School Psychologists (NASP).

Role of the NASP

Since its formation in 1969, the NASP has periodically reviewed, changed, and amended the code of ethics that governs and guides the conduct of school psychologists across the country. The most recent update, the Principles for Professional Ethics, was made in 2010.

Designed to be used alongside other important NASP-produced texts, the NASP principles guide not only the conduct of school psychologists but also the education of school psychologists and the credentialing of school psychologists. In total, the principles are designed so school psychologists can be best positioned to help their students succeed in all facets of their school experience.

The principles are broken up into four different sections, and we'll briefly tackle each one individually. The four sections are: Respecting the Dignity and Rights of All Persons, Professional Competence and Responsibility, Honesty and Integrity in Professional Relationships, and Responsibility to Schools, Families, Communities, the Profession, and Society.

Dignity and Rights

The first section, Respecting the Dignity and Rights of All Persons, covers the conduct of each school psychologist in respecting the dignity and rights of the patient. After all, in most cases, the school psychologist is a state employee and intervening in a child's education on behalf of the state. Each psychologist needs to be well-versed in the constitutional and statutory rights of each patient and ensure these rights are never violated in the course of treatment. The ethical guidelines laid out in the principles to help guide psychologists in this duty are:

  • Include and encourage the involvement of parents in all school decisions affecting the child
  • Except in exceptional circumstances, obtain parent consent before engaging in a psychologist-client relationship with any student
  • Ensure the client and consenting adult are aware of all school psychological services offered
  • Encourage participation of student in all decisions affecting their own care.
  • At all times, school psychologists should respect the privacy of the client and allow them to disclose information at their own pace
  • Promote fairness and justice in all their actions and foster a safe and welcoming environment to all potential patients

Competence and Responsibility

The second principle, Professional Competence and Responsibility, covers school psychologists conduct in doing due diligence by their patient as a psychologist. School psychologists, according to the principle, must always:

  • Act in a caring and responsible way aimed at benefiting others
  • Understand their own limitations and only give advice on subjects in which they are fully qualified
  • Accept full responsibility for the consequences of their care and recommendations
  • Monitor their effectiveness, working to correct problems with their own methodology as they arrive
  • Safeguard the private information and records of their clients at all times
  • Respect the intellectual property laws of the materials they use, from tests to books to treatments

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