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by Celia B. Fisher
Sage Publications, 2003
Review by Michael Sakuma, Ph.D. on Sep 3rd 2004
Lets be honest, for most of us in
the field of clinical psychology, learning ethics is boring. Certainly not
because the material is unimportant, rather many of the principles seem so darn
obvious and commonsensical. Of course I wouldn't trade live chickens for
therapy, (at least not in this stage of my career). Decoding the Ethics
Code, A Practical Guide for Psychologists by Celia Fisher, is an excellent
exercise in bringing life to the dry 2002 revision of the APA ethics code. For
the psychology student trying to learn the code, this is an excellent overview
of the code with clear positive and negative examples illustrating many of the
concepts that have more than once, I should admit, applied glaze to my eyes.
The book is organized around the 10
ethical standards put forth/revised by the APA ethics task force in 2002. The
10 standards deal with situations revolving around conflict resolution,
competence, relationships, privacy, advertising, reports, education, research,
assessment and therapy. There is an introductory chapter outlining the history
of the code and appendices in the back describing the code without the author's
I very much liked the author's use
of example in describing behavior in accord with the code and behavior
transgressing the code. These learning modules kept my mind active and with
the author in her commentary. This type of material demands active learning
exercises and this book is very good- though it isn't perfect. Specifically,
what I didn't like was the fact that all the examples are demarcated with a
check or an "x" depending on the "correctness" of the
behavior. I would have much preferred the exercises to be unmarked so that I
might have more blindly quizzed myself as to the application of the given
example. Of course most of the examples are quite obvious, however, this
simple step would have made the book more interactive, and a better teaching
tool. Alas, perhaps a suggestion for the revision. I should address the
seeming contradiction of this idea from my opening statement about the APA
ethics code. I had thought that the code was easy to understand; some of the
examples in this book showed me that I was mistaken.
In all, this book is an invaluable
guide for psychologist's who are studying for their licensing exams, taking an
ethics course or just reading ethics for fun. There are many books out there
that do the same thing. I can't imagine any being much better than this.
© 2004 Michael
Sakuma, Assistant Professor, Psychology Department at Dowling College, Long Island, New York.