The American psychologists Association (APA’s) ethical code is only applicable to psychologists and its intended purpose is to provide them with guidance and standards that are expected of their professional conduct (Nagy, 2011). The ethical code clearly states that psychologists are not allowed to request for testimonials from current clients since they are highly susceptible to undue influence. The ethical code does not prohibit the use of testimonials from past clients and therefore the shelter does not violate it by seeking to put up a testimonials page on its web. However, the use of testimonials put up on an already existing rating site is not at all advisable.
There are serious ethical issues at play in this situation. To begin with, the director lacks the consent of the individuals whose testimonials appear on Angie’s List. These past clients may not have the intent for their testimonials to appear on the shelter’s website. The decision to use such testimonials would be infringing on the confidentiality of those clients considering the internet is accessible to a large number of people. Additionally, testimonials appearing on another site may be from clients who have sought anonymity thus making it difficult to establish the authenticity of those endorsements. The use of testimonials as an advertising tool plays a key role in enhancing the image and reputation of an organization (Campbell et al, 2010).
It is unethical for the shelter to put up a testimonials page on their web using responses from Angie’s List without the knowledge of the owner of the rating site. It is important for the director to recognize that the response site is run and managed by people who also would want to receive acknowledgments from those who use or benefit from the testimonials on their web page. Copying endorsements from an existing rating site are perceived as encroaching on their privacy. It is therefore not ethical to use the testimonials appearing on another rating site irrespective of the fact that they sought services at the shelter.
The ethical code indicates that the psychologist is held responsible for any misconduct of the people he/she may contract to create statements that advertise their professional practice (Welfel, 2015). In this scenario, the web developer has no interest in the effect of using responses from Angie’s List but rather is concerned about earning more money for putting up the testimonial page on the web irrespective of the consequences. In addition, the consultant’s rush to use shortcuts in executing his mandate does not speak highly of his professionalism. This character may contribute in compromising the quality of services rendered and the director of the shelter should assess the work done by the consultant thoroughly in order to ensure that value for money is achieved.
The use of testimonials to promote the shelter is a viable strategy whose success can only be achieved if the necessary procedures are followed in acquiring the testimonials (Campbell et al, 2010). It is important for the director to note that the ethical code of conduct prohibits the use of false statements that may deceive the public while advertising. In order for the shelter to successfully use testimonials to grow its clientele base, the director should put in place necessary mechanisms that help in the collection of data from clients who have sought the services of the shelter in the past. Additionally, these testimonials must be scrutinized to ensure that the information given is correct and verifiable. The people tasked with the responsibility of getting the responses must ensure that clients who are currently seeking therapy are not approached to give recommendations.
Campbell, L., Vasquez, M., Behnke, S., & Kinscherff, R. (2010). APA ethics code commentary and case illustrations.
Nagy, T. F. (2011). Essential ethics for psychologists: A primer for understanding and mastering core issues. American Psychological Association.
Welfel, E. R. (2015). Ethics in counseling & psychotherapy. Cengage Learning.
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