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PSYC550 - Professional Ethics and Standards

Course Details

Course Code: PSYC550 Course ID: 4045 Credit Hours: 3 Level: Graduate

This course is an advanced level study of the ethical, legal and professional issues relevant to the practice of professional psychology. Topics include APA ethical standards and codes related to confidentiality, competence, and duty to warn, ethical decision-making guidelines, as well as federal and state laws pertinent to psychology. Application of ethics to professional psychology activity is emphasized.

Course Schedule

Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
05/27/19 - 11/01/19 11/04/19 - 12/29/19 Fall 2019 Session I 8 Week session
06/24/19 - 11/29/19 12/02/19 - 01/26/20 Fall 2019 Session D 8 Week session
07/29/19 - 01/03/20 01/06/20 - 03/01/20 Winter 2020 Session B 8 Week session
08/26/19 - 01/31/20 02/03/20 - 03/29/20 Winter 2020 Session I 8 Week session
09/30/19 - 02/28/20 03/02/20 - 04/26/20 Winter 2020 Session D 8 Week session

Current Syllabi

Students completing this course will:

  1. Explore the American Psychological Association (APA) codes of professional ethics and other standards relative to research, practice and training in psychology.
  2. Apply the APA ethics codes and federal and state laws ethical dilemmas.
  3. Analyze concerns, including client rights, informed consent, confidentiality, practitioner and client values, dual relationships and professional liability, encountered in a variety of research, practice and educational settings.
  4. Utilize sound professional decision making models in the critical analysis of ethical dilemmas.
  5. Exhibit a conscientiousness for a variety of cultures and identify personal biases.


Weekly dialogue with classmates based on engagement with assigned course readings and/or related multi-media will take place in the online classroom on designated forums. While designed to promote lively discourse within a community of fellow learners, the dialogues are academic in nature and require a scholarly orientation.


For each assignment, please ensure that your work is in APA format, Times New Roman, with size 12 font, double spaced with 1- inch margins, and includes a title page and reference page. Each assignment should integrate a minimum of five supportive scholarly citations and references to support content and conclusions. Please proofread for grammar and spelling. Specific instructions for each assignment can be found in the Assignments Tab.

Information Interview (Week 3)

In the Information Interview, students will prepare ethics-based interview questions for a practicing psychologist and construct hypothetical responses.

Midterm Essay (Week 4)

For this essay students are expected to compose a 6-8-page essay on cultural and professional competence in the helping professions. Students are required to address specific aspects of multiculturalism and differentiate between individualistic and collectivistic cultures,

Case Analysis (Week 5)

After reviewing a case vignette, students will write 5-6 page paper that includes the following:

1. Description of at least 3 ethical and/or legal issues

2. Identification of relevant ethical codes

3. Explanation of 3 courses of action to resolve the issue

4. Description of the decision-making process for each course of action

5. Assessment of options that best upholds the ethical standards of the profession

My Case Analysis (Week 7)

In this case analysis, students develop a hypothetical case for use as an educational tool for a couples and family therapy learning module. Students will identify three ethical challenges a counselor might face in working with the hypothetical clients. Students will also describe the APA guidelines corresponding with each and how you would safeguard against ethics violations.

NameGrade %
Assignments 68.00 %
Week 3 Information Interview 15.50 %
Week 4 Midterm Essay Assignment 20.50 %
Week 5 Case Analysis 15.50 %
Week 7 My Case Analysis 16.50 %
Forums 32.00 %
Week 1 Forum 4.00 %
Week 2 Forum 4.00 %
Week 3 Forum 4.00 %
Week 4 Forum 4.00 %
Week 5 Forum 4.00 %
Week 6 Forum 4.00 %
Week 7 Forum 4.00 %
Week 8 Forum 4.00 %

Supplemental and Required Reading

This course also includes required and supplemental articles and websites. Consult the respective week in this syllabus for a complete list of additional reading.

Book Title:Issues and Ethics in the Helping Professions with 2014 ACA Codes, 9th ed.
Publication Info:Cengage
Unit Cost:$155.02
Book Title:Various resources from the APUS Library & the Open Web are used. Links provided inside the classroom in the Lessons section.
Author:No Author Specified

Previous Syllabi

Not current for future courses.