Psychologists licensed to practice in the State of Florida are required to complete – upon each biennial renewal of their professional license – a three-hour CE course covering professional ethics and Florida Statutes and rules affecting the practice of psychology. The continuing education course, Ethics and Law in Florida Psychology, was written to meet this requirement and is based on these four documents:
- The Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct of the American Psychological Association
- The Florida Health Professions and Occupations General Provisions
- The Florida Psychological Services Act
- The Florida Administrative Code: Board of Psychology
“The intent of the biennial CE requirement, according to the Florida Administrative Code, is to ‘to enhance the psychological skills and/or psychological knowledge of the licensee,’” says Leo Christie, PhD, president of Professional Development Resources. “As an example, a critical issue in healthcare ethics is the concern for privacy in handling clients’ personal information. This is far more challenging today than it was even a decade ago. The pervasive use of electronic communication technologies like cell phones, laptops, email, the Internet, and social networking has created an environment in which new protections must be implemented. Psychologists need to be trained in the most current procedures for safeguarding their clients’ protected health information in the recording, storage, and transmission of electronic communications.”
The new Professional Development Resources online CE course Ethics & Law in Florida Psychology includes sections on distinguishing between the concepts of law and ethics, deciding what to do when ethics and the law are in conflict, understanding multiple relationships, knowing when a client’s confidentiality can – and should – be broken, resolving ethical dilemmas posed by the Patriot Act, and identifying legal restrictions placed upon sexual intimacies between psychologists and clients.
“I am occasionally asked why it is necessary to keep taking an ethics and law course again and again over one’s career,” says Christie. “My response is always the same: There are five fundamental reasons for psychologists to study ethical theories, principles, and laws on a regular basis. First, therapy is important work; it can never be taken lightly. Second, ethical and legal practice is not simple; in fact it is occasionally overwhelmingly complex. Third, psychologists – like all human beings – are subject to certain prejudices, biases, and blind spots; they must be discovered and understood. Fourth, the practice and process of psychotherapy is a dynamic – not a static – process; the world and the psychologists in it change with time and technology. And, fifth, to the extent that psychologists effectively regulate themselves, they will be able to maintain professional autonomy and avoid undue intrusions by outside parties.”
By May 31, 2014 all Florida psychologists must complete their required 40 hours of continuing education courses and renew their professional licenses. In addition to the ethics and law course, they are also required to complete a course on Preventing Medical Errors, and – every six years – a course on Domestic Violence.