Ethics in correctional and forensic psychology: Getting the balance right

Document Type

Journal Article


Taylor and Francis


Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science


School of Psychology and Social Science / Social Justice Research Centre




This is an electronic version of an article published in Australian Psychologist: Allan, A. (2013). Ethics in correctional and forensic psychology: Getting the balance right. Australian Psychologist, 48(1), 47-56. Original article available here


Compared to their peers, correctional and forensic psychologists are more likely to encounter legal-ethical problems and have complaints lodged against them. The problems that confront them are often novel compared to those their peers deal with. They therefore often feel unsupported and disheartened. Further, they may drift away from the norms that govern the profession and behave in a manner that erodes the trust of the public in the profession and leads to division within the profession. To meet their legal-ethical responsibilities, it is essential that correctional and forensic psychologists should have a good knowledge and understanding of the norms that regulate them. In this article, I will identify the norm systems that guide the professional behaviour of psychologists and examine their content and the manner in which they are related, interact, influence each other, and impact on the professional behaviour of correctional and forensic psychologists. I will pay special attention to the psychology profession's ethical principles that underlie the profession's codes of ethics and examine how the other norm systems influence the interpretation of codes and these ethical principles.