The Top 10 Theories and Concepts in the Ethical/Legal/Professional Issues Section of the exam

Ethics is one of the most heavily emphasized areas of the EPPP. Although you likely spent significant time covering Ethics in your graduate psychology program, when approaching this topic on the EPPP, it can still feel somewhat daunting. Questions pertaining to ethics can be tricky, asking you to select the best answer choice, suggesting that there may be more than one correct response. Ethics questions can often be long, involving factitious case scenarios asking you to decide “what should you do?” When you approach this material, you want to feel confident in how the EPPP assesses your knowledge of Ethics and Professional Issues. Plan to spend a significant amount of time reviewing this material and taking practice tests in this area.

To start your review, here are the top 10 theories and concepts you want to be sure to be familiar with for this section of the exam:

1. Introduction and Applicability, Preamble, and General Principles

Review this section well and also keep the general principles in mind for every question you encounter related to this domain. If you are not sure of the correct answer, always go back and ask yourself, “what answer choice most closely aligns to the general principles?” For this area, you want to understand client welfare and that pro bono services are recommended (not required) for psychologists striving to serve in the best interests of the public.

2. Ethics Standards 1-10

The majority of questions on the EPPP will assess your knowledge and understanding of the ethical standards. Understand these standards well and be able to know what actions are recommended for psychologists and what actions are required. Learn the language of the ethics code for these standards by taking multiple practice exams to familiarize yourself with applying this material to case scenarios. The ethical standards encompass a large amount of material, so you will want to know the details of appropriate informed consent, competence, harassment, multiple relationships, etc.

3. Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychology

Some questions on the EPPP pertain specifically to Forensic Psychologists. Those in this area of specialty have their own ethical considerations they must contend with pertaining to multiple relationships, fees, informed consent, and confidentiality. Understand these considerations and how they might differ from psychologists working with the general public.

4. Guidelines for Child Custody Evaluations in Family Law Proceedings

Understanding some of the complexities that present themselves in working with families and making custody decisions is important. These guidelines were created to promote proficiency in the conduct of child custody evaluations with aspirational guidelines intended to facilitate a high level of practice by psychologists.

5. Competence to Stand Trial

Understand the case of Dusky vs. United States where the defendant lacked the ability to consult with his lawyer to a reasonable degree of rational understanding and lacked an understanding of the proceedings against him.

6. Fact vs. Expert Witness

What is a fact witness? What is an expert witness? What type of witness might you be required to serve as a psychologist? What are the limitations that are present for a fact witness? Be able to answer these questions.

7. Insanity

To be identified as not guilty by reason of insanity, the defendant must lack substantial capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of the act according to the requirements of the law.

8. Responding to a subpoena

What happens when you are provided a subpoena to court? For a psychologist, there are several steps you must take. To start, you need to determine if the subpoena is valid, then you can contact the client for consent to disclose. If the client does not wish to consent, you can negotiate with the party who issued the subpoena, obtain guidance from the court with an informal letter, or file a motion to quash the subpoena or a motion for a protective order.

9. Malpractice

When being faced with a malpractice suit, the defendant must prove that there was a standard of care and that the psychologist deviated from this standard. Be able to remember that the best defense from a malpractice suit is adequate records.

10. Sexual Misconduct by Psychologists

Unfortunately, one of the highest reported complaints to the Ethics Committee involves sexual misconduct. Although there is evidence that this is declining, be able to identify the demographic profile for therapists who often face this allegation (middle-aged male therapists).

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