The Coalition for an Ethical Psychology is dedicated to putting psychology on a firm ethical foundation in support of social justice and human rights. The Coalition has been in the lead of efforts to remove psychologists from torture and abusive interrogations.

The Coalition's activities, and those of the wider movement of health and behavioral sciences within which we work, have coalesced into five domains: professional accountability; APA reform; state legislation; research; and collaboration with other organizations.

Professional Accountability

The Coalition is collaborating with other health professionals and attorneys to pursue state and APA ethics complaints against psychologists where there is evidence that they may have participated in detainee abuse in violation of professional ethics.

We have worked with Congressional committees and other governmental investigatory and policy-making bodies to help investigate and hold accountable health professionals involved in abuses, to expose systemic operations that use psychologists and psychological knowledge to violate international law and professional ethics, and to help reform governmental, military and intelligence policies justifying and supporting such violations.

We call for a national accounting of the subversion of health professional ethics to policies of torture and abuse, and we view an investigation of the American Psychological Association as an essential component of any such inquiry.

APA Reform

The Coalition is working with the broader movement to change problematic policies of the American Psychological Association (APA) in relation to professional ethics and related issues. These efforts have contributed to:

  • Adoption of a 2007 resolution prohibiting psychologists from engaging in varied torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading interrogation techniques. As the 2007 resolution was riddled with loopholes, we continued pressure, resulting in the strengthening of that resolution in 2008.

  • A 2008 member-passed Referendum affirming as APA policy that psychologists may not work in sites operating outside or in violation of international law or the Constitution – such as Guantánamo, Bagram, or the CIA or JSOC “black site” prisons – unless they work directly for the detainees or are treating U.S. service members. (While the APA has accepted the referendum as policy, they have refused to interpret it as was clearly intended by the 59% of voting members who supported it.)

  • The removal of the infamous section 1.02 (the “Nuremberg defense”) from the APA’s ethics code. This section allowed members, including those in the CIA and/or the military to violate professional ethics when ethics conflicted with orders. The Coalition has also joined with 12 other health, human rights, and religious organizations to call for an independent investigation of how ties between the APA and the military-intelligence establishment have affected APA policy.

State Legislation

The Coalition is working with others to promote state legislation that would bar all licensed health professionals from participating, directly or indirectly, in torture or other abuses no matter where they happen. Efforts are currently underway in New York, Massachusetts, and several other states.

Research

The Coalition has systematically examined and documented the roles of psychologists and other health professionals in torture and detainee abuse. We have worked extensively with reporters investigating abusive interrogations and related national security issues. This research is ongoing.

Collaboration

The Coalition is one element of a larger movement aimed at accountability for past abuses and restoring ethical integrity to the health professions. We work in a collaborative fashion with this wider movement while seeking to retain the ability to act independently and swiftly when circumstances dictate.

Groups and organizations with whom we have worked are among those included in our listing of "Organizations and Websites," which is available HERE.