Ethics in Training and Training in Ethics: Special Considerations for Postdoctoral Fellowships in Health Service Psychology

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It is of great importance to the public and the profession to ensure that emerging professionals in health service psychology are competent to recognize and skillfully navigate ethical issues encountered in professional practice, and it is incumbent upon psychology training programs to accomplish this. Although postdoctoral fellowship is the final stage of formal training and supervision for many psychologists, surprisingly little attention has been devoted to delineating best practices for ethics training at the psychology postdoctoral level. Further, unique ethical considerations arise as postdoctoral supervisors engage in training an emerging colleague on the eve of “career launch,” seek to foster skills in complex situations while facilitating autonomy, and often embark on training in supervision itself. This article is intended to extend the scant literature and inform training practices by discussing ethics-focused topics particularly salient to both the content and process of postdoctoral level psychology training. Primary aims include addressing (a) the state of the field and current challenges, (b) designing training in ethics commensurate with the psychology postdoctoral level, (c) ethical issues encountered when supervising and mentoring trainees at the postdoctoral level, and (d) ethical issues in supervision of supervision. Consideration is given to the purpose of postdoctoral training as development of advanced and specialty competencies, as well as differentiation of postdoctoral training from levels earlier in the training sequence. Recommendations are provided for program directors who wish to expand or enhance ethics training, supervisors engaged in training postdoctoral fellows, future research, and next steps for the field.

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