Standard 9.01a Assessment

You have rights, codified by the American Psychological Association code of ethics.  Let’s talk about Standard 9.01a Bases for Assessments.

9.01 Bases for Assessments
(a) Psychologists base the opinions contained in their recommendations, reports, and diagnostic or evaluative statements, including forensic testimony, on information and techniques sufficient to substantiate their findings. (See also Standard 2.04, Bases for Scientific and Professional Judgments.)


The APA ethics code is mandatory for all psychologists and violations to the APA ethics code are subject to sanctions from the state licensing board.

Violations to the APA ethics code mean, by definition, that you are an unethical psychologist.  When unethical professional practice results in harm to the patient, that is especially bad.

That’s why the APA ethics code has two Standards, 1.04 and 1.05, mandating my response as a clinical psychologist when I learn of potential ethical violations by other psychologists.  Violations to ethical practice are serious, they harm people.  When they result in substantial harm to the client, they are egregiously serious.

Standard 9.01 Bases for Assessment defines requirements for assessment.  Let’s examine Standard 9.01a more closely.  It states:

9.01 Bases for Assessments
(a) Psychologists base the opinions contained in their recommendations, reports, and diagnostic or evaluative statements, including forensic testimony, on information and techniques sufficient to substantiate their findings. (See also Standard 2.04, Bases for Scientific and Professional Judgments.)

1.)  Scope 

The first thing to note is that Standard 9.01a specifically references Standard 2.04 requiring the application of the “established scientific and professional knowledge of the discipline” (that would be the DSM-5, ICD-10, Bowlby (attachment), Minuchin (family systems therapy), Beck (personality disorders), van der Kolk (complex trauma), and Tronick (neuro-development of the brain in childhood)

Second, Standard 9.01a specifically mentions “recommendations” (such as custody recommendations and treatment recommendations), “reports” (such as custody evaluations and treatment reports), “and diagnostic or evaluative statements” – diagnosis is identifying pathology, evaluation is any sort of assessment – “including forensic testimony.”

“… including forensic testimony” – This standard covers the entire scope of professional assessment in all aspects – recommendations, reports, testimony, diagnosis.

2.)  Requirements

Now… recognize what is required: “Psychologists base their opinions on… “information and techniques sufficient to substantiate their findings” – then it specifically references Standard 2.04.

“…sufficient to substantiate their findings.”

Did the psychologist assess for IPV spousal abuse of the ex-spouse-targeted parent using the child as the weapon?

No.

Did the psychologist assess for a DSM-5 diagnosis of Child Psychological Abuse (pathogenic parenting creating pathology in the child)?

No.

Did the psychologist assess for a shared persecutory delusion between the child and the allied parent?

No.

Did the psychologist assess for a cross-generational coalition or multi-generational trauma in the family (Minuchin, Bowen; family systems therapy)?

No.

Then that assessment is not based on “information” “sufficient to substantiate their findings” because of their violation to Standard 2.04, referenced directly in Standard 9.01a.

3.) Cross-Examination

My recommended cross-examination of any mental health testimony offering “recommendations” and any “diagnostic or evaluative statements” is to ask the following series of questions:

Did you assess for IPV spousal abuse of the targeted parent using the child as the weapon?  How?  What were the findings?

Did you assess for a persecutory delusion in the child, that is also shared by the allied parent relative to the targeted parent, an encapsulated shared persecutory delusion?  How?  What were the findings?

Did you assess for a DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse from the child’s imposed and coerced role as a regulatory object for the allied parent?  How?  What were the findings?

Did you assess for a cross-generational coalition between the child and the allied parent?  How?  What were the findings?

Did you assess for multi-generational transmission of trauma creating an emotional cutoff in the parent-child bond (Bowen; Titelman)?  How?  What were the findings?

For good measure, I’d throw in a couple of lines at this point on family systems therapy:

Who is Murray Bowen?  Have you read his book, Family Evaluation?  Do you believe it is important to understand the functioning of families when assessing family conflict?  What is a triangle?  What is an emotional cutoff?  What is multi-generational trauma?  Are an emotional cutoff and multi-generational trauma linked?  How does the transmission of multi-generational trauma cause an emotional cutoff in the child’s relationship to a parent? (boundary violations from unresolved parental anxiety).  Is that what’s called an “enmeshed relationship”? (yes).

Who is Salvador Minuchin? (may I approach?) This is a Structural family diagram from Salvador Minuchin depicting a form of family pathology.  Are youSlide1 familiar with this diagram from Salvador Minuchin?  Can you please explain this diagram for us?  Are those three lines in Minuchin’s diagram what you were talking about regarding boundary violations and an enmeshed relationship with the parent and child? (yes).  Are those broken lines, those gaps, between the mother and father and mother and son, are those the emotional cutoffs caused by the over-close enmeshed relationship between the allied parent and child? (yes).

This line of questioning speaks to the requirement: “information… sufficient to substantiate their findings” as required – required – by Standard 9.01a for all of their reports, evaluative or diagnostic statements, and testimony.

4.) Violation of Standard 9.01a

“Psychologists base the opinions contained in their…” 

If they base their opinions on “information” that is NOTsufficient to substantiate their findings” (with a specific reference to Standard 2.04 requiring application of the “established scientific and professional knowledge of the discipline” – and this violation to Standard 9.01a causes harm to the client – to either parent or to the child – then this is an ADDITIONAL violation, an egregious violation, of Standard 3.04 Avoiding Harm.

It involves a cascading series of four ethical code violations beginning with a violation to Standard 2.04 requiring the application of the “established scientific and professional knowledge of the discipline.”

The reason they failed to apply knowledge, is that they failed to know knowledge (vitae), a violation to Standard 2.01a, they were practicing beyond the “boundaries of their competence.” 

Their failure to both know and apply the “established scientific and professional knowledge of the discipline” (violations to Standards 2.01a: know, and 2.04: apply) lead to their violation of Standard 9.01a – their assessment was not based on “information” (Standard 2.04) “sufficient to substantiate their findings.”  This causes substantial harm to the client (untreated IPV spousal abuse, untreated DSM-5 Child Psychological Abuse), a violation of Standard 3.04 Avoiding Harm.

5.) The Chain of Violations

Standards 2.04 – 2.01a – 9.01a – 3.04.  It is a causal link of professional failures from their professional ignorance and sloth.

Google ignorance: lack of knowledge or information.

Google sloth: reluctance to work or make an effort; laziness.

Google negligence: failure to use reasonable care, resulting in damage or injury to another.

Now add Standard 2.03:

2.03 Maintaining Competence
Psychologists undertake ongoing efforts to develop and maintain their competence.

The burden to develop (Standard 2.01a) and maintain (Standard 2.03) professional competence is on them.  It is not the client’s role to educate them, it is their obligation to ALREADY be educated and competent.

Violations to four requirements of the APA ethics code (five with Standard 2.03) represents unethical professional practice.  Unethical professional practice and their failure to know (Standard 2.01a) and apply (Standard 2.04) the “established scientific and professional knowledge of the discipline” represents a “failure to use reasonable care” that resulted in “damage or injury” to the person – harm, Standard 3.04, to their client.

6. Failure in their Duty to Protect

Their unethical professional practice also resulted in the failure of their duty to protect on two separate counts; 

1) IPV Spousal Abuse: failure to protect the targeted parent from IPV spousal abuse (using the child as the weapon, they didn’t even assess for IPV spousal abuse, which is a violation of Standard 9.01a);

2) Child Psychological Abuse: failure to protect the child from DSM-5 Child Psychological Abuse (a shared persecutory delusion created by the “primary case” of the allied parent), they didn’t even assess for it (a violation of Standard 9.01a.).

7. Standards 1.04 & 1.05

The annoying thing about truth is… it’s true.

I have obligations as a clinical psychologist mandated by Standards 1.04 and 1.05 of the APA ethics code when I “believe that there may have been an ethical violation by another psychologist.”

Part of my professional obligation as a clinical psychologist when I learn of potential “ethical violation by another psychologist” is to educate the consumer on their rights relative to the APA ethics code and potential licensing board oversight and remedy.

I do not want to see my professional colleagues harmed.  At the same time, compliance with the APA ethics codes is not optional, it is mandatory – required.  I have required obligations under Standards 1.04 and 1.05 of the APA ethics code, and part of that obligation is to educate the consumer who is subject of the potential ethical violations regarding the APA ethics code and their rights guaranteed under the APA ethics code.

In this case, Standards 2.04, 2.01a, 9.01a, 3.04, and 2.03.

I am fulfilling my required professional obligations with these parents pursuant to Standards 1.04 and 1.05 of the APA ethics code.

Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, PSY 18857

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