Code of Ethics of the Russian Psychological Society


  1. This Code of Ethics was written in accordance with the Constitution of the Russian Federation, Russian Federal law №152-FZ 27.07.2006 “Treatment of personal information”, the Charter of the Russian Psychological Society, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, WMA Declaration of Helsinki - Ethical Principles for Medical Research Involving Human Subjects, Universal Declaration of Ethical Principles for Psychologists, and Meta Code of Ethics of European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations.
  2. Ethics Committee of Russian Psychological Society serves as a consultation and governing body for ethical issues in psychologists’ professional work.
  3. The term ‘Psychologist’ refers and applies to a person with higher education in psychology.
  4. The term ‘Client’ refers to an individual, family or a group (including an organization or community), receiving service from psychologist (education, consultations, special education, training, therapy, treatment, occupational selection, and assessment) or taking part in psychological research as a participant. 
  5. The present Code applies to all types of psychological services it defines. Ethical principles of the present Code apply to all types of psychological services, including distant psychological services via the Internet.
  6. Professional activity of psychologists in any field of expertise is characterized by their responsibility to clients, society, and the discipline of psychology, and is based upon public trust that is earned and maintained by adherence to norms of ethical conduct presented in this Code.
  7. Code of Ethics serves purposes of internal regulation of psychologists’ professional conduct, regulation of relationships between psychologists and the society, and provides grounds for administration of penalties for violations of professional conduct’s ethical principles.

I. Ethical principles of psychologists

Psychologists integrate ethical considerations into their professional practices, and accept as fundamental the universal moral values, like respect for dignity and self-determination of all persons, and the obligation to contribute to the welfare and development of society. These considerations underlie professional work of psychologists in professional, moral and ethical dimensions.

  1. Ethical principle: Respect

    Psychologists respect the dignity and worth of all people with particular regard to their rights guaranteed by the Constitution of Russian Federation and international human rights treaties.

    The principle of respect includes:

    1. General respect
      1. Psychologists respect individual, cultural and role differences, including (but not exclusively) those involving age, disability, education, ethnicity, gender, language, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, marital or family status and socio-economic status.
      2. In their work-related activities, psychologists do not engage in unfair discrimination based on any basis and avoid bias. Psychologists do not allow client’s personal characteristics, conditions, status, or preferences affect their professional judgment in any way, including, but not limited to, the choice of methods and procedures of psychological work, and conclusions based on research data.
      3. In their work-related activities, psychologists do not engage in unfair discrimination based on any basis and avoid bias
      4. In their professional actions psychologists take care to do no harm in any way to the health, welfare, reputation and social status of the client and associated parties.
    2. Confidentiality
      1. Psychologists take precautions to protect confidential information obtained through or stored in any medium, and do not disclose it under any circumstances without the proper and unambiguous consent from the client.
      2. Research results are presented in a way that excludes the possibility of harm to the client, student, psychologist, or psychological science.
      3. Research and assessment data obtained when working with and educating students is protected and handled in accordance with this standard. The same applies to the data obtained from clients.
      4. In case studies psychologists care to protect anonymity and dignity of the client in question.
      5. Psychologists refrain from attempting to obtain information about the client that is outside the needs of contracted psychological activity.
      6. A client has the right to restrict third-parties from interfering with client-psychologist relationship.
      7. Psychologists care to protect research results against their unwanted exposure. Psychologists acknowledge that negligence in maintaining, storing, retaining and disposing of research data can bring harm to client, psychologists themselves, and society. Careful storing and handling of any work-related data should be properly organized.
    3. Informed Consent
      1. Prior to providing professional services or conducting research, psychologists obtain informed consent of clients informing them about the nature of the activity, confidentiality protections and limitations, handling of work records, publications and reports. For persons who are legally or otherwise incapable of giving informed consent, psychologists obtain consent from duly authorized representative.
      2. A psychologist provides the client with appropriate information about all important steps in the course of psychological activities. Clinical psychologists provide patients with information about possible potential risks of the chosen method of treatment and where possible offer alternative methods, including the ones outside psychological field.
      3. Psychologists obtain informed consent from clients prior to any recording of their voices or images during consultations or therapy. This rule also applies to recording client-psychologist telephone conversations.
      4. Psychologists also obtain client’s explicit consent prior to providing such recordings or any other client’s data to the third parties.
      5. Participation of individuals in psychological research or experiments is based on their free will and informed consent. When psychologists conduct research, a psychologist informs the individual or individuals at the first contact, or at the earliest opportunity about the purpose of the research, procedures, and any foreseeable risks, discomfort, or adverse effects using language that is reasonably understandable to that person or persons. On the onset of research, a psychologist makes sure that dignity and well-being of the participants are respected, the appropriate safeguards are introduced, and possibility of unforeseen risks is minimized.
      6. If scientific values justify delaying or withholding information about the nature, results and conclusions of the research, psychologists take reasonable measures to reduce potential risks to psychological well-being, physical health, personal values or dignity of the participants. Debriefing is performed as early as feasible, preferably at the conclusion of the experiment, provided that such debriefing is possible and harmless for the participant’s well-being, personal values and dignity. 
    4. Respect for client’s autonomy
      1. Psychologists recognize and respect the ability of individuals, groups and communities to make decisions for themselves, including ones concerning entering or terminating professional relationships. 
      2. Any individual can be a client provided that this individual is legally, physically and mentally able to independently contract or give informed consent. If an individual is limited in these abilities, the decision about entering professional relationship with a psychologist is made by duly authorized representative.
      3. Psychologists acknowledge the right of a client for obtaining second opinion from another psychologist, unless in cases when such involvement is impossible by law.
  2. Ethical principle: Competence

    Psychologists value the continuing development and maintenance of high standards of competence in their professional work, and the importance of preserving their ability to function optimally within the recognized limits of their knowledge, skill, training, education, and experience.

    The principle of competence includes:

    1. Professional ethics
      1. Psychologists have thorough understanding of professional ethics and ethical conduct, including the principles of the present Code. In their work psychologists use both professional and ethical judgment.
      2. Psychologists are responsible for and ensure that their own, their employees’, and their student’s activities adhere to professional standards.  
      3. Psychologists strive to ensure that those working under their direct supervision also comply with the requirements of this Code and that they are not required to work beyond the limits of their competence.  
      4. In their interactions with specialists of other professions psychologists maintain professional integrity, respect and willingness to help.
    2. Limitations of professional competence
      1. Psychologists provide services only within the boundaries of their competence, based on their education and professional experience.
      2. Only a psychologist is allowed to perform direct (survey, assessment, interview, therapy, training, etc.) and indirect (biographic method, observation, etc.) professional activities to a client.
      3. Psychologists exercise psychodiagnostic conversation, observation, educational intervention on a level that creates and sustains trust and satisfaction in client-psychologist relationship
      4. In the event of client’s illness, psychological work can proceed only with the consent from the client’s doctor or duly authorized representative.
    3. Competence in Choice of Means
      1. Theoretical grounds, techniques, procedures, and methods of data processing chosen by the psychologist are appropriate and consistent with the course of therapy, assessment or research. The chosen methods of psychodiagnostics comply with standards, are proven safe, valid, and adapted for the client.
      2. Psychologists use scientifically accepted and approved methods of data collection and management that are independent of the psychologists’ scientific preferences, social status or personal attitudes towards the client.
      3. Psychologists do not fabricate data, or make false, deceptive or fraudulent statements concerning their research. If psychologists discover significant errors in their published data, they take reasonable steps to correct them and publish the corrected data.
    4. Maintaining Competence in Ethics
      1. Psychologists undertake ongoing efforts to develop and maintain their competence in the ethics of psychological work (or research). 
    5. Recognizing impairment
      1. In the event when discontinuation of psychological services due to subjective or objective reasons is likely to harm the client, the psychologist makes reasonable efforts to facilitate the transfer and continuity of care by referring the client to alternative service providers as appropriate.
      2. Psychologists refrain from practice when their professional competence is seriously impaired.
  3. Ethical principle: Responsibility

    Psychologists value their responsibilities to clients, to the general public, and to the profession and science of Psychology, including the avoidance of harm and the prevention of misuse or abuse of their contributions to society.

    The principle of responsibility includes:

    1. General responsibility
      1. Prior to conducting research, a psychologist assumes responsibility for the reasonably foreseeable scientific and social factors, that may be expected to influence persons and organizations involved in the research directly, and indirectly influence public trust in the discipline of psychology and perception of social values.
      2. Psychologists are fully aware of the nature of researcher-participant relationship, and assume responsibility for safety and well-being of participants in both physical and psychological dimensions. Such responsibility increases in instances when research involves persons with drug dependency and persons limited in their actions, as well as when participant’s abilities are deliberately limited by the design and conduct of an experiment
      3. A psychologist terminates psychological services when it becomes reasonably clear that the client is not likely to benefit or is being harmed by their continuation.
    2. Nonmaleficence
      1. A psychologist does not carry out any scientific or professional activity unless their procedures are safe for health, dignity, privacy and welfare of the client, and remain within the boundaries of the contracted professional work. 
    3. Resolution of ethical dilemmas
      1. Psychologists recognize that ethical dilemmas will inevitably arise in the course of professional practice. Psychologists accept their responsibility to attempt to resolve such dilemmas with the appropriate combination of reflection, supervision, and consultation.
      2. In the event when psychologists need an expert opinion in their ethical dilemmas, they seek ethical advice from Ethics Committee of Russian Psychological Society.
  4. Ethical principle: Integrity

    Psychologists value honesty, accuracy, clarity, and fairness in their interactions with all persons, and seek to promote integrity in all facets of their scientific and professional endeavours. Psychologists respect their colleagues; have clear understanding of their professional roles, obligations and responsibilities.

    The principle of integrity includes:

    1. Acknowledging limitations of personal and professional abilities
      1. Psychologists acknowledge limitations of their own knowledge, methods, findings and views, and those of their profession, and are open for cooperation with specialists of other professions.
    2. Honesty
      1. As early as is feasible in professional or scientific relationship, psychologists and recipients of psychological services reach an agreement specifying compensation and other sufficient terms and conditions like, but not limited to: distribution of responsibilities between a psychologist, a client and a third-party payer; and handling of research results and limitations of their application.  In professional relationships with clients, as well as in employment, professional principles of psychologists come before any commercial interests. Prior to establishing any work-related commitments, psychologists make it clear to their potential employers that they act within the boundaries of their professional competence, are constrained by legal, moral and ethical obligations to preserve confidentiality of work-related information, and that only psychologists can regulate their professional activities. Psychologists explicitly indicate impossibility of execution of demands and requests of unethical and unprofessional nature. Psychologists provide and familiarize employers with the norms of the present Code.

        Advertising and other public communications of psychologists only serve the purpose of helping potential clients to make informed decisions about the possibility of establishing professional relationships.  Psychologists do not engage in advertisements or other public communications that are false, deceptive or fraudulent considering their research, practice or other work activities Psychologists do not advertise their names or any methods of professional activity. Psychologists do not make exaggerated claims for the effectiveness of services which they offer, make claims of professional superiority, make invidious claims respecting other practitioners, or make claims guaranteeing successful outcome. Psychologists do not engage in active marketing strategies of their professional services’ promotion by, including, but not limited to: attraction of clients by discounts; rewarding persons or organizations for attraction of clients; and encouraging third-parties to spread praise or any other kind of advertising information.
    3. Accuracy
      1. Be honest and accurate in representing information in research and practical work.
      2. In psychological services and research work psychologists employ terminology accepted in psychological science, provide the data on which their conclusions are based, including their mathematical-statistical processing, and obtain positive review of competent professionals. The analysis of relevant scientific literature precedes any psychological research. 
      3. Take reasonable steps to ensure that information presented is not misrepresented by others, and to correct any misrepresentations identified.
    4. Avoiding exploitation and conflicts of interest
      1. Avoid forming relationships that may impair professional objectivity or otherwise lead to exploitation of or conflicts of interest with a client.
      2. Refrain from abusing professional relationships in order to advance their sexual, religious, political, ideological, personal, or financial interests.
      3. Recognize that conflicts of interests and inequity of power may still reside after professional relationships are formally terminated, such that professional responsibilities may still apply.
      4. A psychologist refrains from entering into a personal relationship with the person with whom the psychologist has the professional relationship.
    5. Professional responsibilities
      1. Psychologists do not withhold research results or the data on which their conclusions are based from academia. In their publications psychologists take care to communicate as completely, objectively, and unambiguously as possible, and are careful not to use information that could be misinterpreted, keeping all information about the participants of research anonymous. Psychologists acknowledge that criticism and discussions of their own findings and views serve the development of science, and refrain from suppressing them.
      2. Psychologists respect their colleagues and refrain from unfair criticism of their professional activities.
      3. Psychologists do not engage in unfair competition, including, but not limited to, forcing or causing colleagues to quit their practice or change its site.
      4. When psychologists believe that there may have been an ethical or professional violation by another psychologist, they attempt to resolve the issue by bringing it to the attention of that individual confidentially.

II. Ethical violations

  1. Conduct that is regarded as ethical violation includes: ignoring, misinterpretation or deliberate violation of the norms of the present Code pursuing personal benefits or resulting from resentment of the norms and principles stated in the present Code. Violation of the Code represents grounds for filing a complaint.
  2. Any person or organization may report unethical conduct by submitting written complaint to Ethics Committee of Russian Psychological Society. All complaints are considered and decided upon by Ethics Committee of Russian Psychological Society.
  3.  Sanctions on psychologists for violations of the standards of the Ethics Code, may include public warning, suspension or loss of Certificate of Professional Psychologist with the subsequent notification of general public, potential clients and other psychological associations.
  4. Information regarding imposed sanctions is public and shared with psychological associations of other countries.
  5. In instances of serious violations of ethical principles of this Code, Russian Psychological Society may pursue the psychologist or organization of psychologists in court.

This Code is approved by the Congress of Russian Psychological Society on February 14, 2012.