mandatory and speak for themselves or are interpreted by the courts; however, in areas in which laws are silent, unclear, or conflicting, guidelines may assist psychologists
in articulating recommended practices. Court decisions and case law.
cuit court and U.S. Supreme Court decisions may require changes in professional practice. For example, the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Daubert v. Merrill Dow Phar- maceuticals (1993) prompted significant changes in how psychologists in affected jurisdictions prepare for and de- liver expert opinions in court. Guidelines could educate psychologists about evidentiary requirements and how they can more effectively respond to them.
Professional interaction with the legal sys-
Psychologists are called on to respond to demands judges, lawyers, and administrative bodies. These
demands may require in the form of records “Guidelines for Child
psychologists to provide information or sworn testimony. For example, the Custody Evaluations in Divorce Pro-
ceedings” (APA titioners interact
COPPS, with the
1994) are intended to help prac- legal system, families, and chil-
roles. Guidelines can also provide about specific legal concepts and
education and requirements.
Changes in regulatory and administrative systems. Psychologists are subject to regulation by state licensing boards and federal health regulatory sys- tems. Although the agencies that promulgate regulations sometimes write explanatory documents, there are areas in which regulations are silent or not fully explicated. In those cases, guidelines could be formulated to help psychologists adapt existing practice and procedures to meet these stan- dards. An example is record keeping, where regulations may be vague or even conflicting. Consequently, APA has developed record-keeping guidelines (APA COPPS, 1993).
Guidelines may be written to benefit the public in ways that include the following:
Improved service delivery. Practice guide- lines may be developed when substantial evidence emerges to indicate that service-delivery models can be improved. Education concerning this information and its use may prompt psychologists to make positive changes in treat- ment or evaluation procedures. For example, “Guidelines on Multicultural Education, Training, Research, Practice, and Organizational Change for Psychologists” (APA, 2003) and “Guidelines for Psychological Practice With Older Adults” (APA, 2004) provide a more sophisticated framework for service delivery to diverse populations.
Avoidance of harm.
The development of prac-
evidence or harm
or professional consensus of bias, discrimination, to clients. For example, the development of
“Guidelines for Psychotherapy With Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Clients” (APA Division 44/Committee on
bian, Gay, and Bisexual Concerns Task prompted by evidence of inappropriate lesbian, and bisexual clients.
Emerging, underserved, or vulnerable cli-
oped to meet the psychological derserved, or vulnerable client
needs of emerging, un- populations. Emerging
shifting demographics, such as new tions. Underserved groups may include
immigrant popula- certain rural, home-
populations with regard Vulnerable people with
are those less able to advocate for themselves to access to and utilization of health services. populations may include minors, older adults, AIDS, victims of interpersonal violence, prison
inmates, individuals with serious mental illness and/or stance dependence, or other groups or individuals who
Public policy initiatives. Practice guidelines may be developed to assist psychologists in responding to public policy initiatives, for example, prevention of school violence, depression or alcohol screening, and promotion of positive health behaviors.
Professional Guidance Guidelines may offer professional guidance in relation to
issues such as the following: Development of new technology.
velopment of new technology may necessitate re-evalua- tion or reconsideration of existing processes and proce- dures. For example, the increasing use of electronic communication and transmission of medical records may require psychologists to modify their practices concerning control and confidentiality of records.
New, expanded, or complex multidisci-
Psychologists may require
guidance in contexts or
emerging areas of netic testing have collaboration and
practice. For example, advances in ge- led to new areas of multidisciplinary service delivery for psychologists.
Guidelines may assist psychologists in clarifying and maintaining professional autonomy.
Advances in theory and science. Advances in psychological theory and science may lead to the devel- opment of new approaches with which psychologists need guidance. For instance, theory and science related to sexual orientation led, in part, to the development of practice guidelines in this area.
Professional risk-management issues. Prac- tice guidelines may be developed in response to profes- sional risk-management issues. For example, APA guidelines on record keeping may protect psychologists in the absence of clear guidance from state and federal regulations.
The need for a set of practice guidelines must be well established. In addition, each guideline must be supported by specific documentation. The document as a whole and each of its component guidelines must be accompanied by an explicit rationale and supporting evidence appropriate to