Professional conduct and its importance for fresh graduated psychology

Published 14 Feb 2017

Any profession or organization cannot be based and function effectively unless it is guided by a set of protocols or rules to help its members perform. This is the key ingredient to any successful professional and organization, where the members are aware of what they are expected to do and how are they supposed to carry themselves.

As in any profession, the field of psychiatry faces its own challenges. The first and foremost challenge is to place one’s expertise and contribution in a field that is still at its basics with regards to the complexities of the human mind. Man has been assessing and studying his own behavior patterns, modes of thoughts, methods of communication, desires, needs, ambitions and assimilating the environment in where he or she needs to perform. Yet still psychiatry still is in its early stages of development. This becomes an increasingly demanding job for a psychologist when he or she is to address patients and people who are suffering from mental disorders, mental ailments, or plain anxieties about various life issues. In such circumstances, the patient expects and demands full understanding of his or her mental state and needs by the psychiatrist, and how to help him or her overcome his problem. Thus a psychiatrist becomes at the same time a channel of expression, a reservoir of secrets, a confidant, a friend, a guide, a mentor, and a therapist, all, in one, to help the patient reach the other side of sanity.

This demand is naturally high, as very few of us humans have the capacity to clearly understand what the other person’s needs are and how can they be addressed in a positive manner. For an experienced psychiatrist, the task of conducting oneself for the patient and the profession is a fine line he or she has learned to balance. But for an amateur learner and graduate of psychiatry, this could be a daunting task. Society has the habit of expecting too much at too little time from a medical professional. The problem however is that most graduates are not exposed to the real world of psychiatry profession, and had been learning or managing cases under supervision, guidance and through mutual discussions and consents. When the same person is expected to work as an individual, he or she may feel nervous about his or her endeavor.

A psychiatrist is expected to perform in a certain way for his patients, which is both original and in line with the laws of the field of psychiatry. For this purpose, such graduates are expected to have a professional conduct akin to the field of choice. Professional conduct is the set of rules and outlines that any professional in a given field must follow and abide with. These set of rules ensure that the person is providing the best quality of service that is akin to the level of education that he or she has achieved. However, these professional conduct codes are limited to the person’s profession and related activities to the profession such as educational endeavors and scientific researches (APA, 2003). This however, does not exclude the person from moral and ethical values and demands of the profession, and an individual must above all practice ethical and moral values over any other professional obligation or need.

Very concisely, professional conduct on an individual or an organizational level is the set of rules and regulations that must be observed by the individual within a specific field. Not only these rules set a standard to be lived up to by a professional, but it also acts as a gauge with which a person is measured and assessed with. These rules are although limiting in providing complete exemption from any moral or ethical behavior, they nevertheless allow for positive professional growth of a person.

There are many requirements and areas which a person must fulfill to be professionally capable. The first and the foremost is that a person must acknowledge the supervening authority in his or her profession, in our case, psychology, and accept it by becoming a member of the governing body of the profession (APA, 2003). In all this time, a psychiatrist must inform the authorities about the type of activity he or she is carrying out with regards to his profession i.e. private or public service, research, teaching and education etc. In all this while, the psychologist is responsible for his or her own actions and can be held accused for any misdemeanor that he or she conducts. This can lead to any disciplinary action that the body may have decided upon in its set of rules. (Newfoundland standard of professional conduct, 2005)

Therefore, a graduate of psychology must demonstrate competence, multiple professional relationships, does not have any impairment, is able to focus on the welfare of the client, supervisors, research participants and students, be confidential of the client’s information, properly represent his or her services, and their costs thereof. The psychologist will also be careful about the various aspects of different assessment procedures, understand different violations of the laws and the penalties associated with the breaching of these laws, will not support illegal practices in the profession, and will report such cases of violations should they come under his or her notice.
It is easy to see that the professional conduct of a psychologist is aimed at both the patients as well the colleagues of the profession and becomes modified accordingly. For example, in the case of the patients, the patient knowledge is strictly confidential and must be protected. In the cases of professionals, it is imperative that the psychologist maintain the level of rapport with the colleagues that helps in progression of his or her profession, improve knowledge and increase experience in his or her field.

Similar in this manner is the obligation towards the psychologist to be ethically and morally correct in carrying out his practice. Above all regulations, any law agency or authority will not allow moral or ethical compromise from any professional. It is also the responsibility of the professional to protect himself from any such litigation that could take place due to lack of interest or attention to the patient. The psychiatrist must not resort to any immoral or unethical act on the insistence of the patient or the client, and must report the matter immediately and protect himself. In cases where there is danger of any legal problems due to the condition of the patient or the client, either the psychiatrist keep a witness during the sessions, or must legally document all information as elaborately as possible to prevent any future mishaps. (Newfoundland standard of professional conduct, 2005)

A successful professional in one who is able to give quality care and practice to its patients and clients, is able to keep up with the changes and trends in psychiatry via educational reviews, peer communication, research and learning. The psychologist is also aware of the rights of the patient as well as himself, and also the rules and guidelines that have been placed by the superiors and works accordingly to avoid mishaps.

For a new graduate of psychology stepping out in to real practice, knowing these rules and regulations, and the various laws associated with it can help save his profession at critical times. Such an informed individual will be able to ascertain any moral, ethical or professional misconduct or violation, and will be better able to handle and protect himself from any future problems.


  • American Psychological Association, 2003. Ethical Principals of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. Site last accessed on September 30th, 2007 from
  • The Newfoundland Board of Examiners in Psychology. Standards of Professional Conduct, 2005.
Did it help you?