General Information

  Experimental Psychology
  Research Methods

  Online Psychology Laboratory

 Psychology Home



Ethics Syllabus

Psychology 4420 Syllabus
Fall, 2006

INSTRUCTOR: Maureen A. McCarthy, PhD
: SS 213-C
: 770-423-6296 or (Psychology Office 770-423-6225)
: Monday and Wednesday 1:00-2:00, Monday 3:30-4:30 and by appointment*
: MW, 8:00-9:15; Room SS 217

Catalog Course Description

Prerequisites: One psychology course at 3000-level.

A critical analysis of professional issues and the ethical standards in the practice of psychology. Traditional and emerging practice areas will be discussed. Topics such as licensure, prescription drug privileges, managed care, and treatment efficacy research will be explored. Ethical standards and decision-making will be studied in the context of professional practice.  

Required Texts

Corey, G., Corey, M. S., & Callahan, P. (2007). Issues and ethics in the helping professions. Belmont, CA: Thomson.

Fisher, C. B. (2003). Decoding the ethics code: A practical guide for psychologists. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

*Instructor Availability: I believe that it is important that students have access to assistance in a timely manner. Assistance will be available through three avenues. First, I will be available through email 7 days a week. I will check my email at least once daily and I will respond to your questions as soon as possible. Second, you may come by my office during office hours. If you can not meet with me during this time, I will be happy to make an appointment at a time that is more convenient for your schedule.

Attendance Policy: There is an expectation that students will attend class regularly and on time. Students are responsible for any material covered or announcements made in class during their absence. Any student who stops attending class should officially withdraw from the course prior to October 9.

Grades: Grades will be assigned based on the university established scale for letter grades (i.e., 90%-A, 80% - B, 70% - C, 60% - D, below 60% - F).  Note: A minimum grade of a C is required for psychology majors.

Classroom Integrity: Students are adults and will be treated as such. In return, there is an expectation that students will behave as responsible, intelligent individuals. Academic freedom is respected and must be honored at all times by all persons. I am committed to creating a learning environment that is respectful and intentionally inclusive. The course will not espouse, foster, or harbor discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, language, geographic region, resident status, religious/spiritual and secular beliefs, family structure, socioeconomic status, gender identity, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, age, physical disability, or health status. To create and preserve a classroom atmosphere that optimizes teaching and learning, all participants share a responsibility in creating a civil and non-disruptive forum. Students are expected to conduct themselves at all times in a manner that does not disrupt teaching or learning. Instructors have the right to limit
classroom discussion in order to meet the educational objectives of the class session.  

Academic Integrity: Every KSU student is responsible for upholding the provisions of the Student Code of Conduct, as published in the Undergraduate and Graduate Catalogs. Section II of the Student Code of Conduct addresses the University's policy on academic honesty, including provisions regarding plagiarism and cheating, unauthorized access to University materials, misrepresentation/falsification of University records or academic work, malicious removal, retention, or destruction of library materials, malicious/intentional misuse of computer facilities and/or services, and misuse of student identification cards. Incidents of alleged academic misconduct will be handled through the established procedures of the University Judiciary Program, which includes either an "informal" resolution by a faculty member, resulting in a grade adjustment, or a formal hearing procedure, which may subject a student to the Code of Conduct's minimal one semester suspension requirement.

Specifically, regarding plagiarism and cheating, the Student Code states: "No student shall receive, attempt to receive, knowingly give or attempt to give unauthorized assistance in the preparation of any work required to be submitted for credit as part of a course (including examinations, laboratory reports, essays, themes, term papers, etc.). When direct quotations are used, they should be indicated, and when the ideas, theories, data, figures, graphs, programs, electronic based information or illustrations of someone other than the student are incorporated into a paper or used in a project, they should be duly acknowledged ("

 Specifically within the Psychology Department: Although the Psychology Department supports multidisciplinary and focused scholarly interests, we do not ordinarily allow students to turn in (or modify) a paper from a previous course or use the same paper for concurrent courses. If students have references that apply to more than one paper, students can use them but must rewrite how you use the citations. If there are questions or concerns about potential violation of any of these statements, students are encouraged to meet with the course instructor to discuss these concerns. Also, refer to the current edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association for specific guidelines on APA format regarding citations and references.

Specifically within this Course: In addition to the aforementioned definition of plagiarism unintentional plagiarism is also prohibited. Changing a few words in a sentence and then citing the author is plagiarism AND using exact quotations, with quotation marks and appropriate citations, is prohibited in this course. To help you avoid both the problems of what I call unintentional plagiarism (primarily attributable to inappropriate paraphrasing) and overuse of quotations, the information that follows clarifies differences between appropriate and inappropriate paraphrasing. Unintentional or intentional plagiarism may result in an automatic 0 for the paper.

Plagiarism can be intentional or unintentional. Most often students unintentionally plagiarize a published source. It is not enough to merely reference what you are reading. You must either place the information you are using in direct quotes or you must appropriately paraphrase the material. For example, if you were to try to paraphrase the following quote:

“Detailed analyses revealed that with increased age adults in this time management activity were less likely to perform self-paced tasks and to attempt difficult auditory discrimination judgments” (Salthouse, Hambrick, Lukas, & Dell, 1996, p. 305).

It is possible that you might try the following paraphrase:

Analyses revealed that increased age adults in the time management activity were less likely to perform self paced tasks (Salthouse, Hambrick, Lukas, & Dell, 1996).

This paraphrase is incorrect, even if you attach the appropriate citation. In other words, this constitutes plagiarism! Instead you should try to summarize the information in your own words. The following example is more appropriate:

Researchers found that age inhibited willingness of participants to initiate difficult tasks (Salthouse, Hambrick, Lukas, & Dell, 1996).

You will notice that this information has been summarized and that this is a better example of a correct paraphrase. It is important to realize that this paraphrase must still be appropriately referenced. Additional information can be found at:


Course Objectives: This course is designed to provide you with an opportunity to apply psychological principles to practice. As such, the course will be conducted as a seminar which requires active participation and inquiry. The primary focus of this course will be the APA code of ethics for psychologists. Additional ethical codes and local legal stipulations will also be discussed.

·        Become familiar with ethical decision making models

·        Examine the role of ethics and values in the therapeutic process

·        Become acquainted with various counselor roles and the potential for the development of ethical dilemmas

·        Develop an ability to think critically and creatively about cases and to articulate how you might deal with ethical issues involved in specific case vignettes

·        Develop the ability to function effectively in presenting your ideas pertaining to ethical and professional issues in group situations

·        Become aware of the current literature in the field of ethics in textbooks and selected professional journals

Learning Outcomes: Evidence of competency in these domains will be evaluated on the basis of learning outcomes. In other words, specific competencies should include:

  • Identify key principles contained in the APA Code of Ethics.
  • Articulate key Georgia legal stipulations for counselors and psychologists.
  • Demonstrate a rudimentary understanding of ethical dilemmas.
  • Distinguish between legal, ethical, and moral (or personal) standards.
  • Explain recent ethical issues (e.g., HIPAA).
  • Be able to distinguish between different sub-specialties in psychology.
  • Distinguish between psychology and professional codes in related helping professions.
  • Discuss current controversial issues within the context of ethical practice (e.g., duty to warn, empirically based treatment, prescription privileges).
  • Be able to demonstrate how to respond to ethical dilemmas.
  • Demonstrate an ability to critically apply the ethics code to practical dilemmas.
  • Demonstrate an ability to present written arguments.

Course Structure: This course has been designed in a seminar format. Therefore, informed participation will be critical to evaluating performance. There are five evaluative components for this course; a) class participation, b) attendance, c) quizzes, d) an article review, and e) examinations.

Class Participation

You are expected to participate in the class activities and discussions. Your final course grade may be affected by both the quality and quantity of your in-class participation and attendance. Your class participation should give evidence of you keeping up to date in all the assigned readings and assignments. Come to class with questions and be prepared to share your thoughts on the topics under discussion for each of the class meetings.

I do expect you to function as a professional, which means showing up and participating actively at the class sessions!  This also means arriving on time for the beginning of the class, and staying for the full duration of the  class. A total of 50 points are available for class participation.


A full duration of class is expected at each class meeting, unless you have an emergency situation or are really ill. For me to credit you with an excused absence, you need to know that it is your responsibility to inform me of such cases immediately upon returning to class—or in advance if you know you will need to miss a class or a part of a class. Absences and tardiness will be a factor in determining your participation/attendance grade; unexcused absences or tardiness can result in getting a full grade deducted (or in some cases even failing the course). Absences are figured into the participation grade. To be able to get credit for the on-line quizzes, you must also attend the class session.

Article Review

You will be required to complete an article review. First, you must select an article that is appropriate for this course. The article must be substantive and must be directly related to one of the listed topics of the course. Comments and short response articles are not acceptable. The article must be published in 2006 and a copy of the article must accompany your review.  This assignment will be worth 50 points.


The Corey, Corey and Callanan (2007) text offers a companion website to accompany the text. For each of the chapters, a brief quiz is available. You must complete 10 quizzes for a maximum of 15 points each. Because each quiz contains 15 items, you will receive credit on the basis of the number of correct responses. At the conclusion of the quiz, you will be given the option of having the results emailed to the instructor. I must receive an email notification of your work in order to provide you with credit. The site address is located below:

It is not acceptable to complete these quizzes late. Each quiz must be completed by midnight on the day prior to the listed due date on the syllabus. I will cross reference the completed quizzes with your attendance. Failure to complete the quiz by this deadline and to attend class, will result in 0 points. In other words, in order to receive points for the quiz, you must both take the quiz and attend class.

 Reaction Papers

A total of five reaction papers will be required. Late papers will be penalized 10% per day late charge. Two of the reaction papers will be based on video segments shown in class (25 points each). Two of the papers will require an analysis of a key topic (25 points each). The final paper will require completion and analysis of a self assessment (50 points). Papers should be approximately 2 pages in length.

Reaction papers on video segments

n                    The Affair Assume you are Natalie’s counselor. What issues would you consider in working with Natalie?  What are the ethical and clinical issues involved in this vignette? How would your values influence your interventions?

n                    The Friendship (See CCC Chapter 7).  Assume that one of your clients is terminating and he or she lets you know he or she would like to begin some form of a social relationship. What issues would you explore with your client?  Explain how you’d proceed. Consider both the ethical and clinical issues involved.

Key topic papers

n                        Dealing with a Value Conflict (See CCC Chapter 3).  Identify one specific value that you are likely to push, or an area where you expect to struggle because of a value conflict with a given client. Or, identify one of your core values and show how this value could either enhance or inhibit the effectiveness of counseling. Demonstrate how you might proceed to lessen the chances that you would impose your values on this client. How might you resolve a value conflict and use referral as a last option?

n                        Diagnosis (See CCC Chapter 10). After reading about the arguments for and against diagnosis, as well as the authors’ position on diagnosis, write your own position on diagnosis as you would explain it to your clients. What would you most want to say to your clients about your views on diagnosis?

Self Assessment

Shifts in Your Thinking about Ethics (Retake the 40-item Self-Inventory: An Inventory of Your Attitudes and Beliefs about Professional and Ethical Issues – in CCC Chapter 1). Write an essay that clearly describes what you consider to be the most important shifts in your thinking about ethical practice (clarification of your views and beliefs, modifications in your thinking on a given issue, gaining new insights, or acquiring a new perspective).  What have you most learned about yourself and/or about what constitutes becoming an ethical practitioner? How has your thinking about ethics changed?  Do a brief evaluation of yourself as a learner in this course. How invested were you this semester?  To what degree did you challenge yourself?  Assess your participation (write a self-evaluation) and give yourself a percentage grade you think you have earned for the participation component.

Suggestions for Your Self-Reflection Papers

n        To write high quality papers, it will help to show evidence that you have read the relevant material in the main textbook and that you have done the reading on each issue in question.

n        You are to develop your own position and back up these views with supporting evidence (either through your observations and experiences, or through key ideas in the readings). These are to be thoughtful and reflective papers, not merely summary of information papers!

n        Take a specific position, show why you take such a position, and then develop your viewpoints by giving reasons for the statements you make. Be creative in the way you approach this assignment.

n        The paper should be done in personal style and should reflect your study, review, and thought on given ethical and professional issues.  In both papers, do not write in global, abstract, and impersonal ways. Avoid writing about counselors in general or about counseling practice in general.  Write about you as a future counselor and about concrete issues that you have convictions about. 

n        You should know that you are not graded on your viewpoints and thoughts as such.  Instead, your grade is a function of your ability to clearly, concisely, and fully express your ideas. I am looking for depth of thinking, originality, critical evaluation, the ability to apply key ideas and themes to practical situations, independent judgment, organization, and insights into issues.  Let your papers demonstrate that you are doing the reading and reflecting necessary to produce a quality paper.

Suggestions for Writing and Criteria for Grading

n        1. Quality writing skills
Write directly and informally, yet write in Standard English. I encourage you to use personal examples and to support your points with these examples when appropriate. Make sure your essays reflect university-level writing skills.  Use complete sentences, develop your paragraphs, check your spelling, and put together a paper that reflects quality. You might ask someone to proofread your paper.  It is essential that you keep strictly within the established page limitations.

n        2. Development of a theme
Look for a central theme or central message in each essay.  Make an outline, and check to see that each point in your outline pertains to your central message.

             Create a short title for each section of your paper that conveys your basic idea.

             State your message concisely in your opening paragraph.

             Have a solid concluding paragraph.

             The theme should be clear, concise, and specific -- rather than global and generalized. Do not write in a general and abstract manner, or else your essays will lose a clear focus.

             Develop your thoughts fully, concretely, and logically rather than rambling or being vague and wordy.

             In terms of form and organization, your paper should flow well, and your points should relate to one another. The reader should not have to struggle to discover your intended meaning.

             Give reasons for your views rather than making unsupported statements. In taking a position, provide reasons for your position.

n        3. Use of examples
When developing your ideas, use clear examples to illustrate your point. Draw upon personal examples, use cases, and apply ethical principles to practical work settings. Tie your examples into the point you are making, but avoid giving too many details or getting lost in the personal example.

n        4. Creativity and depth of thinking
Write a paper that reflects your own uniqueness and ideas rather than merely giving a summary of the material in the book.

             Do not make your papers mere summaries; rather focus on a clear position that you take on a specific question or issue.

             Approach the material in an original way.

             Focus on a particular issue or topic that you find personally significant.  Since you have choice in what aspect to focus on, select an aspect of a problem that will allow you to express your beliefs.

             Show depth in expanding on your thoughts.

n        5. Integration and application
Your papers should emphasize an application of ethical principles and ethical reasoning to counseling practice.

             Demonstrate that you know the material or the issues involved through an integration of the codes and the readings, accurate understanding of readings, critical evaluation of videos and readings, and ability to apply both readings and videos to practical situations.

             Apply your ideas to specific populations that you expect to work with—both in counseling and non-counseling situations. You may want to apply parts of your paper to teaching, working with the elderly, working in corrections, working with adolescents, etc. Make your paper a personal and meaningful experience by showing how you would apply ethical reasoning to dealing with ethical dilemmas.

             In writing about ethical issues, be sure to zero in on a specific message. Read what the question is asking and write directly to that specific question. What do you most want to convey?

In writing about a case, be sure to show that you can apply ethical principles and your knowledge of the ethics codes in discussing a case given in the Issues and Ethics book.

All written work must conform to APA style. Specific instructions regarding font, format, and reference style can be found in the required APA style manual. All written work exceeding one page in length must be stapled in the upper left corner of the paper or it will not be accepted.

Discussion Facilitation: Teams of two will be required to facilitate a discussion topic once during the semester. In most instances, the facilitation will begin with a presentation of positive and negative aspects of the topic. Grades will be individually awarded on the basis of information, knowledge, and overall performance. Additional information about this assignment can be found at:

Extra Credit: Extra credit will not be an option in this course.  


Quizzes  (10 @ 15 each)


Article Review


Reaction papers


Class Participation


Discussion Facilitation




Course grades will be calculated as a percentage of total points.

Tentative Class Schedule*

  • This schedule is tentative. Announcements regarding changes in the schedule will occur in class.





August 21

Syllabus, Overview



August 23

Introduction to Professional Ethics

Chapter 1, In class self inventory


August 28

Ethical Models and Decision Making

Chapter 2

Quiz Chapter 2

August 30

Psychologist as Person/Professional

Chapter 2


September 4

Labor Day



September 6

Values in Helping Relationship
Codes of Ethics

Chapter 3
Fisher Appendix

Quiz Chapter 3 

September 11

Values and Helping Relationships (Video)

Chapter 3


September 13

Multicultural Perspectives and Diversity

Chapter 4

Reflection Paper 1 (Affair)
Quiz Chapter 4

September 18

Multicultural Perspectives and Diversity

Chapter 4


September 20

Multicultural Perspectives and Diversity

Chapter 4

Key Topic Paper Due (Values)

September 25

Client Rights Psychologist Responsibility

Chapter 5

Quiz Chapter 5

September 27

Client Rights Psychologist Responsibility

Chapter 5


October 2

Confidentiality, Legal Issues

Chapter 6

Quiz Chapter 6

October 4

Confidentiality, Legal Issues

Chapter 6

Article Review Due

October 9

Managing Boundaries and Multiple Relationships



October 11*

Managing Boundaries and Multiple Relationships


Quiz Chapter 7

October 16

Overview of Legal Perspectives (Video)

Georgia Statutes
Fisher Chapter 13


October 18

Overview of Legal Perspectives Resolving Ethical Disputes

Georgia Statutes
Fisher Chapter 4


October 23

Professional Competence and Training

Chapter 8

Quiz Chapter 8
Reflection Paper 2 (Friendship)

October 25

Professional Competence and Training

Chapter 8
Fisher Chapter 10


October 30

Supervision and Consultation

Chapter 9

Quiz Chapter 9

November 1

Issues in Theory and Practice

Chapter 10

Quiz Chapter 10

November 6


Chapter 10

 Key Topic Paper Due (Diagnosis)

November 8

Issues in Couples Therapy (Self Assessment Returned)

Chapter 11

Quiz Chapter 11

November 13

Issues in Couples Therapy

Chapter 11


November 15

Issues in Group Work

Chapter 12


November 20

Assessment Fisher

 Self Assessment Due

November 22

Fall Break



November 27




November 29

Clinical and Counseling

Chapter 13


December 4

Closing Ceremonies