Recommendations for colleagues
advice on the wisdom of continuing to provide services as
When a colleague faces a serious medical condition, psychologists
well as ways to handle professional activities and disclosure to
should move swiftly to provide unwavering support and honest
consultation (Barnett & Johnson, 2008; O’Connor, 2001). Here
• Balance collegial support with an effort to protect the
are several steps for supporting the colleague in ways that focus
interests of those served by the colleague.
on his or her competence and best serve clients:
In the rare case that a colleague with professional competence
• Help the colleague accept that all humans are vulnerable to
problems refuses to hear or respond to recommendations that
infirmity and all psychologists are vulnerable to distress.
he or she limit scope of practice or submit to supervision or
• Frequently check in to offer moral support and personal
assistance, consider more formal strategies to resolve the conflict.
encouragement. Nudge the colleague to stay connected to avoid
For instance, if there is evidence that the colleague’s competence
his or her isolation.
problems are placing others at risk, contact a licensing board,
• Offer to provide honest feedback regarding the
state psychological association’s colleague assistance committee
psychologist’s presentation and affect. When invited, offer
or other appropriate regulatory body (APA, 2010; Barnett &
Johnson, 2008). However, even when more
formal action is indicated, it is helpful to
avoid an adversarial role with the colleague.
Firm feedback and steps to protect the
public need not necessitate the end of one’s
We hope that this article offers both
useful ethical guidance and a healthy
reminder that psychologists are human.
All of us will be well served by carefully
The Society of Psychologists
minding our health, surrounding ourselves
with thoughtful colleagues and planning
ahead for medical challenges. n
SPIM Mid-Winter Conference and Institutes
Enjoy A Look Ahead: Thriving in the Future
W. Brad Johnson, PhD, is a professor in
February 20–24, 2013 in Scottsdale, Arizona.
the department of leadership, ethics and
An opportunity to earn up to 31 CE Credits
law at the U.S. Naval Academy and a
faculty associate in the Graduate School
of Education at Johns Hopkins University.
If you are a psychologist focused on
Jeffrey E. Barnett, PsyD, is a professor of
management and you are looking for a
psychology at Loyola University Maryland
professional association that provides you
and an independent practitioner in
with strong intellectual and collegial support,
consider SPIM membership!
article is based on “Preventing
For more information on the conference,
Problems of professional
institutes and membership visit
competence in the face of life-
threatening illness,” from the APA journal
Professional Psychology: Research and
Supported by the Foundation for the
Practice. Click here to read the full article,
which includes references.
Advancement of Psychology in Management
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