NASP's Principles for Professional Ethics

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

The National Association of School Psychologists establishes principles for professional ethics. This lesson will discuss these principles and how they apply to professional conduct. We will end with a brief quiz to see what you've learned.

What is the NASP?

Have you ever had the opportunity to work with a school psychologist? Perhaps you needed help or support regarding a personal situation while in school? Maybe you needed career guidance or help planning for higher education. Either way, a school psychologist likely had a hand in the process.

School psychologists work with students, parents, and educators to meet the learning and educational needs of students. They may work in schools or for educational districts or at education-based companies. School psychologists may also work in private practices to provide direct services to students.

No matter where they work or in what capacity, school psychologists must adhere to a professional code of ethics. This ensures that school psychologists use their positions for the betterment of students and education. One organization that exists to support professionals in this field is the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP).

As a governing body for the profession of school psychology, the NASP publishes principles for professional ethics. Now that we better understand school psychology and why it's important, let's take a closer look at NASP's guiding principles.

NASP's Principles for Professional Ethics

The NASP created Principles for Professional Ethics to ensure that school psychologists are held to the highest standards for conduct. Let's dive right in to these four principles and their sub-principles, shall we?

I. Respecting the dignity and rights of all persons

School psychologists have positions of power and influence. They work with students and educators in important ways. Therefore, it's important for them to treat people with care and to protect the rights of others and their dignity. This principle sets the stage for this conduct.

  • I.1 Autonomy and self-determination: This aspect of the first principle protects the individual's (and when applicable, the individual's parents') right to have a say in regard to his or her education. School counselors must work with parents and students to resolve educational issues.
  • I.2 Privacy and confidentiality: This sub-principle ensures that the privacy of students is protected. School counselors must adhere to strict rules for confidentiality and privacy.
  • I.3 Fairness and justice: The fairness and justice rule mandates that school counselors provide information to students and parents about the laws and their rights to education. School counselors must acknowledge and respect these rights. Fairness and equity must be promoted for all students.

II. Professional competence and responsibility

Becoming a school psychologist requires immense training and great skill. The principle of professional competence and responsibility ensures that school psychologists are held to the highest standards.

  • II.1 Competence: The competence sub-principle mandates that school counselors pursue opportunities for ongoing education and don't take on jobs for which they are not qualified.
  • II.2 Accepting responsibility for actions: School psychologists must be mindful of their work and accept responsibility for their actions. These professionals should immediately take steps to rectify any wrongdoing.
  • II.3 Responsible assessment and intervention practices: School psychologists use many tools for assessment and often perform interventions with at-risk students. This rule ensures that these practices are done in a responsible, sensible manner.
  • II.4 Responsible school-based record-keeping: As previously mentioned, students have the right to privacy. Therefore, school psychologists must maintain the privacy of the students they serve with regard to record-keeping. For example, if records are stored electronically, they must be encrypted and/or password protected.
  • II.5 Responsible use of materials: Tests and measures are essential tools for school psychologists. This rule ensures that these tools will be used ethically and only for the purpose for which they were designed.

III. Honesty and integrity in professional relationships

School psychologists are influential in many ways, which requires that all professional behavior is done honestly and with integrity. That's where the honesty and integrity in professional relationships principle comes into play.

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