IPT Book Reviews

Title: Ethical Conflicts in Psychology  Positive Review
Editor: Donald N. Bersoff
Publisher: American Psychological Association, 1995

American Psychological Association
APA Order Department
P0. Box 2710
Hyattsville, MD 20784
(202) 336-5500

$39.95 (p)

Professional ethical standards are crucial in determining proper standards of care, what constitutes good practice, and what positive goals to pursue as a professional.  They are also necessary to weigh the behaviors of professionals engaged in any venture which winds up enmeshed in the justice system.  This 525-page volume, prepared by Dr. Bersoff, psychologist and attorney, after years of experience as legal consultant to the American Psychological Association, to the APA Ethics Committee, and now as a law school teacher, offers a useful and handy compendium of the ethical codes for psychologists and some of the best thinking about ethical behaviors by psychologists.

The book has 10 chapters.  The first three chapters deal with the underlying framework for understanding ethical questions.  The last seven are built around contemporary ethical conflicts judged to be frequent and often confusing to psychologists.  These include multiple relationships, confidentiality, assessment, therapy, and research practices.  The most unusual is the chapter on the Business of Psychology which deals with ethical issues raised by the shift in perception that mental health services are a commercial pursuit rather than a learned profession.

Each chapter includes articles and excerpts from articles from a variety of authors with editor's notes and commentary by Dr. Bersoff.  There are numerous vignettes illustrating ethical conflicts.  These make it possible to get a better sense of the ethical principles involved and understand how they are applicable to real world situations.  This is a valuable book for all psychologists.

Reviewed by Ralph Underwager, Institute for Psychological Therapies, Northfield, Minnesota 55057.

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