The professional conduct of a psychologist PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 08 March 2018 13:24

By Remedios F. Marmoleño

Doctor. Accountant. Engineer. Nurse. Teacher. Dentist. Lawyer. And many more. These are professionals whose actions in their respective professions are defined by a specific code of conduct. Conscious violation of  a specific provision of the  code can subject them to lose their license to practice the profession.

I was therefore chagrined when I read a news report in which  a practicing psychologist gave comments about the IQ  of CJ Lourdes Sereno, her personality  as revealed by psychological tests  and what her emotional/psychological health is.

I earned a master’s degree in DLSU in guidance and counseling and in my program  I focused on psychological evaluation, which trained me in the administration and interpretation of standardized tests for  measuring mental ability and evaluation of personality.  If I learned anything it was certainly to respect the confidentiality of a person’s test results. I was thus taken aback when I read the comments of one Geraldine Tria about CJ Sereno as revealed by tests the latter  had taken as part of the process for her appointment to the Supreme Court.

For me it was like a lawyer breaking attorney-client privilege of secrecy or a doctor talking about a patient’s health condition with a third party who is a stranger to the patient  without the patient’s permission. I was thinking of where I could direct  my questions about this violation of a psychologist’s ethical conduct. Fortunately, a day after, a news item in the same newspaper came out with an item from the Psychological  Association of the Philippines (PAP) stating that these comments should never have been made the way they  were – precisely on the requirement that such  information is highly confidential.

My defense of CJ Sereno in this matter does not mean I am taking her side in  the impeachment controversy. I am very confident that the PAP position on the release of CJ Sereno’s personality data is the same as mine – it has nothing to do with whether the PAP   supports or not  her impeachment. It has more to do  with the ethical professional conduct of a psychologist. ( The report says that she is a clinical psychologist.)

So what made Psychologist Tria do what she did? I cannot second guess the answer to this question. Enough it is to say that she has to answer to the professional group that she belongs to.

I am not out to get my “pound of flesh”  here. We have enough disregard for laws in this country without our taking a stand of nonchalance on obvious professional misconduct.