Most organizations ensure equity and social responsibility by creating documents with language stating that they must not discriminate based on race, ethnicity, gender or gender expression, sexuality, religion, and more. These non-discrimination clauses are required by law, but in certain situations, marginalized groups may still feel uncomfortable. Psychologists adhere to their own Ethics Code in addition to these legal guidelines. This code is part of the ethical considerations of psychological assessment that ensures fair treatment and acceptance of all individuals regardless of who they are, who their partners are, and what they believe.
Patients who are concerned that their private information will be repeated at psychologists' dinner parties need not be worried. Except in extreme circumstances — for example, if a psychologist thought a patient was a danger to other people or at risk for self-harm — personal patient information and assessment results remain protected both by law and the Ethics Code that psychologists follow.
Any audio or video recordings made of the patient or other documents that the patient has written are similarly protected. If the psychologist does need to discuss the patient’s case with another person, these consultations are far from gossip — they fall under the purview of the Ethics Code as well. Most of the time, the patient discussed is not identified by name for privacy reasons.
A patient may want and need to visit a psychologist for assessment, but he or she may be concerned as to the psychologist’s understanding of a specific group or culture. In recent years, psychologists, universities, and researchers have made a point to learn more about underrepresented groups in psychology as well as how this intersectionality may affect mental health. For example, black students with autism are frequently underdiagnosed — and they may even have a diagnostic delay of up to three years. This represents a large gap between the identification and care often afforded to non-minority peers. Researchers are currently striving to make testing and assessment material that reflects a broader life and cultural experience than the country’s majority group.
It’s natural for patients to have concerns about the the ethical considerations of psychological assessment process or even meeting a psychologist. Patients can rest assured that their assessment information will be protected according to both the law, privacy standards and the psychologists’ Ethics Code.