Deontology code

Appendix 1

Deontology code for the psychologists


Respecting the psychological aspect of a human being is an unequivocal right.  Recognition of this forms the basis of a psychologist’s work.

This deontology code is intended to act as a professional set of rules for men and women holding the title of psychologist, regardless of their means of practice or professional situation, including their training and research activities.

Its key aim is to protect the public and psychologists from misuse of psychology and the use of methods and techniques which falsely claim to derive from psychology.

The professional organisations which are signatories to this Code have committed to have it understood and followed.  In this context they provide support and assistance to their members.  Membership of psychologists to these organisations implies their undertaking to follow the terms of the Code.

Section I – General principles
The complexity of psychological situations makes it difficult to apply simple, systematic practical rules.  Following the rules of this deontology Code assumes the ability to think ethically and to be discerning  observing the following main principles:

1 / Respecting peoples’ rights

The psychologist practices in line with the principles laid down in national, European and international legislation about respecting peoples’ fundamental rights and particularly their dignity, freedom and their protection.  He/she only works with the free, informed consent of the people in question.  Conversely, any person must be able to address him/herself freely and directly to a psychologist.  The psychologist will preserve the persons’ private life, guaranteeing professional confidentiality, including confidentiality between colleagues.  He/she will observe the fundamental principle that nothing of any form is to be revealed.

2 / Competence

Psychologists draw their competences from theoretical knowledge which is regularly updated from continuing education and training to identify his/her personal involvement in understanding others.  The psychologist is guarantor of his/her specific qualifications and defines his/her own limitations in light of their training and experience.  He/she will refuse to carry out any intervention if he/she is aware of not having the necessary skills.

3 / Responsibility

Apart from responsibilities defined in common law, the psychologist has a professional responsibility.  He/she must ensure that his/her interventions comply with the rules of this Code. Within the limits of his/her professional skills, the psychologist will decide on the choice and application of psychological methods and techniques which he designs and uses.  He/she therefore personally responds to his choices and the direct consequences of his action and professional opinions.

4 / Probity

The psychologist has a requirement for probity in all his/her professional relationships.  This requirement is based on following the deontology requirements and continuing efforts to refine his/her interventions, describe his/her methods and define his/her aims.

5 / Scientific quality

The intervention methods chosen by the psychologist must have a reasoned explanation of their theoretical bases and construction. All assessments or results must have been debated between professionals.

6 / Respecting the assigned purpose

The methods used by the psychologist will be consistent with and only with the purposes of his/her interventions.  When designing his/her intervention to meet the assigned purpose, the psychologist must consider the possible uses which it may be put to by other people.

7 / Professional independence

The psychologist must not give up the independence required to practice his/her profession in any form.

In all circumstances in which the psychologist considers that he/she cannot observe these principles, he is required to invoke the conscience clause.

Section II – Professional practice

Chapter 1: The title of psychologist and definition of the profession

Article 1

The use of the title of psychologist is defined by the French law no. 85-772 of 25 July 1985 published in the O.J. on 26 July 1985.  Psychologists are people who meet the qualification conditions defined in this law.  Legal proceedings may follow any form of misappropriation of the title.

Article 2

The professional practice of psychology requires the title and status of a psychologist.

Article 3

The fundamental mission of the psychologist is to make a person recognise their physical dimension and respect them in their physical dimension.  His/her activity is based on the psychological component of people, considered either alone or jointly with other components.

Article 4

The psychologist may undertake different forms of self-employed, employed or public service roles.  He/she may carry out different tasks which he/she will distinguish and have distinguished such as counselling, education in psychology, assessment, expert review, training, psychotherapy and research etc.  These tasks may be carried out in various occupational sectors.

Chapter 2: Conditions for practicing the profession

Article 5

The psychologist will works in fields relating to his/her qualification, demonstrated in particular through basic and higher level applied university training in psychology, by specific training, from his/her practical experience and research work.  He/she will determine the indication for and procedure by which he carries out activities within his/her competence.

Article 6

The psychologist will respect the specific nature of his/her practice and technical independence.  He/she will respect those of other professionals.

Article 7

The psychologist will agree to carry out tasks which he/she considers compatible with his/her competencies, technique and positions and which do not contravene the terms of this Code nor current legal requirements.

Article 8

The fact that a psychologist may be bound in his/her professional practice by a contract or status with any private company or any public body does not change his/her professional requirements and in particular his/her obligations for professional confidentiality and independent choice of his/her methods and decisions. He/she will refer to the Code of deontology in drawing up contracts and refer to it in his professional links.

Article 9

Before any intervention, the psychologist will ensure he/she has the consent of those people who are consulting or taking part in an assessment, research or expert evaluation.

He/she will inform them about the methods, aims and limitations of his/her intervention.

The psychologist’s opinions may relate to dossiers or situations which are reported to him although his/her own assessment must only be based on people or situations which he/she has been able to examine him/herself.

In all assessment situations regardless of requestor, the psychologist will remind the people concerned of their right to request a counter-opinion.

In research situations he/she will inform them of their rights to withdraw at any time.

In legal expertise situations the psychologist will treat each party equitably and will be aware that his/her purpose is to inform justice about the question asked of him/her and not to provide evidence.

Article 10

The psychologist may see, at their request, minors or people of majority age protected by law.  His/her work with these people will take account of their current status, situation and legal requirements.  When the consultation with minors or people of majority age protected by law is requested by a third party, the psychologist will require their informed consent together with that of the holder’s of parental or legal authority.

Article 11

The psychologist will not use his/her position for personal purposes, persuading people of his/her views or alienating another party.  He/she will not respond to a request from a third party who is seeking to obtain an illegal or immoral advantage or is abusing authority in seeking his/her services. The psychologist will not undertake to assess or treat people with whom he/she is personally related.

Article 12

The psychologist alone is responsible for his/her conclusions. He/she will describe the methods and tools on which these are based and present these appropriately to his/her different interlocutors in order to preserve professional confidentiality.

The parties concerned have the right to obtain a comprehensible report of the assessments about them, regardless of the purpose these are instructed for.

When these conclusions are presented to third parties they will only answer the question asked and will not contain the psychological information on which these are based unless necessary.

Article 13

The psychologist cannot draw on his/her position in order to support an illegal act and his/her title does not release him/her from obligations in common law.  Pursuant to the terms of the penal law for failure to assist a person in danger, the psychologist is therefore required to report to the legal authorities responsible for applying the law any situation which he/she knows threatens a person.

In the specific case of confidential information which indicates to the psychologist situations liable to affect the psychological or physical wellbeing of the person consulting him/her or that of a third party the psychologist will use his conscience to assess the action to be taken, taking account of legal requirements in terms of professional confidentiality and assisting a person in danger. The psychologist may inform his/her decision by taking advice from experienced colleagues.

Article 14

The documents produced by a psychologist (certification, summary, certificate, letter, report, etc.) will carry his/her name, identification of his/her position and his/her contact details, signature and the specific reference to the recipient.  The psychologist will not agree to people other than him/herself changing, signing or rescinding documents relating to his/her professional activity and will not agree to reports being sent without his/her explicit agreement and will observe the confidentiality of his/her letter.

Article 15

In the place of his/her professional practice, the psychologist will have appropriate facilities and suitable premises to enable professional confidentiality to be observed and sufficient technical resources for the nature of his/her professional procedures and for the people consulting him/her.

Article 16

If the psychologist is prevented from carrying out his/her intervention, he/she will take the appropriate measures to enable his professional activities to be continued by a colleague with the agreement of the people concerned, subject to this new intervention being well founded and possible in deontology terms.

Chapter 3: Technical aspects of professional practice

Article 17

The practice of the psychologist not only involves the methods and techniques which he/she uses, it is inseparable from a critical appraisal and putting these techniques in a theoretical perspective.

Article 18

The techniques used by the psychologist for assessment, direct diagnostic guidance or selection purposes must have been scientifically validated.

Article 19

The psychologist will be aware of the limitations of his/her assessment and interpretations. He/she will not draw simplistic or final conclusions about the aptitude or personality of people particularly when these conclusions may directly impact on their lives.

Article 20

The psychologist will understand the legal and regulatory consequences of the law dated 6 January 1978 on informatics, data and personal freedoms (French Data Protection Act).  As a result, he/she will file, archive and store information and data from his activities in accordance with current requirements.  When these data are used for teaching, research, publication or communications purposes, they must be treated absolutely anonymously by removing all information which could allow either direct or indirect identification of the people concerned, always in compliance with legal requirements for named information.

Chapter 4: Obligations of the psychologist on his/her colleagues

Article 21

The psychologist will support his/her colleagues in practicing their profession and in the application and defence of this Code. He/she will respond positively to their requests for counsel and assistance in difficult situations, particularly by helping to resolve deontological problems.

Article 22

The psychologist the respect the designs and practices of his/her colleagues insofar as these do not contravene the general principles of this Code: this does not exclude well founded criticism.

Article 23

The psychologist will not abuse competition with his/her colleagues and will call on those whom he considers to be better placed to respond to a request than him/herself.

Article 24

If the psychologist completes an audit or expert assessment task with respect to colleagues or institutions, he/she will do so observing deontology requirements.

Chapter 5: The psychologist and dissemination of psychology

Article 25

The psychologist has a responsibility to disseminate psychology to the public and media.  In doing so his/her presentations of psychology and its applications will be consistent with the deontology rules of the profession. He/she will use his/her rights of amendment to make a serious contribution to information released to the public.

Article 26

The psychologist will not go into detail about psychological methods and techniques which he/she presents to the public and will inform them of the potential dangers of unsupervised use of these techniques.


Chapter III – Training of the psychologist

Chapter 1: Principles of training

Article 27

Training in psychology for future psychologists will observe the deontological rules of this Code.  As a result, training institutions:
– distribute the Code of Deontology of the Psychologists to the students since the beginning of the studies,
– ascertain the existence of conditions permitting that develops himself the reflection on the questions of ethics bound to the different convenient: teaching and formation, convenient professional, research.

Article 28

Teaching will present the different areas of study in psychology together with the many theoretical frameworks, methods and practices for the purposes of contextualisation and critical appraisal.  By definition this excludes indoctrination and sectarianism.

Article 29

Training in psychology will give a place to disciplines which contribute to knowledge of human kind and respecting its rights in order to prepare students to approach questions relating to their future practice respecting available knowledge and ethics values.

Chapter 2: Design of training

Article 30

The psychologist teaching psychology will not take part in training which does not offer guarantees as to seriously intended outcomes and resources.  Teachers in psychology for continuing education for psychologists can only teach people with a title of psychologist.

Teachers in psychology for professional training of non-psychologists will observe the same deontology rules as those in articles 27, 28 and 32 of this Code.

Article 31

The psychologist teaching psychology will ensure that his/her practices and the university requirements (research dissertations, professional training courses, subject recruitment, etc.) are compatible with professional deontology.

He/she will handle information about students obtained from teaching, training or training post activities in compliance with the articles of the Code for people.

Article 32

Students will be taught that psychological procedures relating to the assessment of people and groups require the greatest of scientific and ethical rigor and how they are handled (caution, verification) and their use (professional confidentiality and duty of discretion) and that case presentations will be so done observing rights to consent or refuse, dignity and the wellbeing of the people presented.

Article 33

Psychologists who host training posts in University and in field work will ensure that the trainees apply the terms of the Code, particularly those relating to confidentiality, professional confidentiality and informed consent.  They will not consent to trainees being employed as non-remunerated professionals.  Their aim is to professionally train the students and not to influence their personality.

Article 34

As defined in law, psychologists who teach psychology will not accept any remuneration from a person who is entitled to services because of his/her university position.  He/she will not require the students to follow paid or unpaid extra-university training to obtain their qualification. He/she will not accept students as patients or clients.  He/she will not require their participation, either unpaid or otherwise in other activities when these are not explicitly part of the training programme in which the students are enrolled.

Article 35

Knowledge obtained during initial training is validated by official methods.  This validation is based on the disciplines taught at University.  The critical and self-assessment abilities of the candidates and requires reference to ethical requirements and the deontology rules for psychologists.