Return to: Student Rights and Responsibilities
APA Ethical Principles - PSY
All psychology students should be aware of Section 7.04, Student Disclosure of Personal Information, in the APA’s Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (2002, 2010 revision). This section states:
Psychologists do not require students or supervisees to disclose personal information in course- or program-related activities, either orally or in writing, regarding sexual history, history of abuse and neglect, psychological treatment, and relationships with parents, peers, and spouses or significant others except if
- the program or training facility has clearly identified this requirement in its admissions and program materials or
- the information is necessary to evaluate or obtain assistance for students whose personal problems could reasonably be judged to be preventing them from performing their training- or professionally related activities in a competent manner or posing a threat to the students or others.
The School of Psychology at Fielding Graduate University places considerable value on personal exploration, requiring students to self-reflect and to be self-aware. As a result, it is the expectation that students will disclose personal information as part of their participation in the doctoral program in psychology. If you have any questions regarding this issue, please contact the Program Director for the Clinical Psychology program.
Policy Revised 06/01/2013
Student Impairment - PSY
This document provides policies and procedures for managing problematic student conduct or performance. These policies are consistent with accreditation standards of the American Psychological Association and also incorporate human resources policies of the Fielding Graduate University and the protocol for response to students with academic and/or clinical difficulties approved by the faculty of the School of Psychology. These policies emphasize due process in the school’s decisions about students. There are avenues of appeal that allow students to file grievances and to dispute school decisions.
The APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (2002) clearly stipulates the requirement that psychologists meet certain standards of competence and that they be free of personal impediments that could impair professional performance based on generally accepted standards of care. It further stipulates that training programs have the obligation to apply these standards of performance to students, taking remedial action when possible, and dismissing students when such efforts fail to improve performance to the stipulated levels.
Two types of difficulties and terms denoting them have been noted in the literature:
- Incompetence is reserved for situations where the skills necessary for adequate professional performance is lacking;
- Impairment is reserved for situations of diminishing functioning.
Both types of difficulties may be manifest in graduate students, in either academic, clinical, research, or all components of their programs.
In addition, for purposes of this document student problems are defined broadly as an interference in professional functioning which is reflected in one or more of the following ways: 1) an inability and/or unwillingness to acquire and integrate professional standards into one’s repertoire of professional behavior, 2) an inability and/or unwillingness to acquire professional skills in order to reach an acceptable level of competence, and/or 3) an inability to control personal stress, psychological dysfunctions, and/or excessive emotional reactions which interfere with professional functioning.
While it is a professional judgment as to when a student’s behavior becomes more serious (i.e., problematic) rather than just of concern, for purposes of this document a concern refers to a students’ behaviors, attitudes, or characteristics which, while of concern and which may require remediation, are perceived to be not unexpected or excessive for professionals in training. Student behaviors become identified as impairments when they include one or more of the following characteristics:
- the student does not acknowledge, understand, or address the problem when it is identified;
- the problem is not merely a reflection of a skill deficit which can be rectified by academic or didactic training;
- the quality of academic or clinical work delivered by the student is sufficiently negatively affected;
- the problem is not restricted to one area of professional functioning;
- a disproportionate amount of attention by faculty is required,
- the student’s behavior does not change as a function of feedback, remediation efforts, and/or time;
- the problematic behavior has potential for ethical or legal ramifications if not addressed;
- the student’s behavior negatively impacts the public view of the Fielding Graduate University;
- the problematic behavior negatively impacts the student population.
The School of Psychology Program continually assesses each student’s performance and conduct. Feedback from the assessments facilitates students’ professional growth by acknowledging strengths and identifying performance or conduct areas that need improvement. At a minimum, faculty cluster leaders provide written evaluations and meet with the student at specific intervals (e.g., Annual Reviews) to discuss the assessments and offer recommendations. In the meetings, differences between students’ and faculty appraisals are expected to surface and, in most cases, are resolved. After the review, the faculty and student sign the annual plan and forward it to Santa Barbara. Faculty will be required to provide documentation of problems encountered.
Students are evaluated within the three components in the Clinical Psychology PhD program: academic, research, and clinical. The academic component consists of a curriculum of areas of study called knowledge areas as well as the comprehensive assessment. The research component includes the research practicum, proposal and dissertation, and the final oral review. The clinical component includes the practicum, psychological assessment labs, pre-internship evaluation, and internship. Each student is evaluated by the faculty and given feedback and evaluation throughout their student career.
Each component aims to provide the student with the opportunity to begin assuming the professional role of a psychologist consistent with the scholar/practitioner model. This role entails the integration of previous training and further development of the scientific, professional, and ethical bases involved in professional functioning.
School of Psychology Expectation of Students
The expectations of students are divided into three areas:
- knowledge of and conformity to relevant professional standards,
- acquisition of appropriate professional skills, and
- appropriate management of personal concerns and issues as they relate to professional functioning.
Students are expected to:
- Be cognizant of and abide by the APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct, Specialty Guidelines and any other relevant, professional documents or standards which address psychologists’ ethical, personal and/or legal responsibilities.
- Be cognizant of and abide by the laws and regulations governing the practice of psychology. Such documents include but are not necessarily limited to the appropriate state regulations governing the practice of psychology; relevant local, state and federal statues; and relevant case law.
It is recognized by the clinical psychology program that mere knowledge of and exposure to the above guidelines and standards are not sufficient. Students need to demonstrate the ability to integrate relevant professional standards into their own repertoire of professional and personal behavior. Examples of such integration include a demonstrated awareness of ethical issues when they arise in work with clients, appropriate decision making in other ethical situations, and awareness of ethical considerations in their own and other’s professional work.
There is a relationship between the level of personal functioning and effectiveness as a professional psychologist, for example, most notably in one’s role delivering direct services to clients. Physical, emotional, and/or educational problems may interfere with the quality of a student’s professional and/or educational work. Such problems include but are not limited to 1) educational or academic deficiencies, 2) psychological adjustment problems and/or inappropriate emotional responses, 3) inappropriate management of personal stress, 4) inadequate level of self-directed professional development, 5) inappropriate use of and/or response to supervision/ guidance, 6) violations of civil rights or harassment violating federal, state, and Fielding policies, and 7) violations of any criminal laws.
When such problems significantly interfere with a student’s professional functioning, such problems will be communicated in writing to the student during annual reviews or when necessary. The Clinical Psychology Program Director or the Director of Clinical Training, in conjunction with the student, will formulate strategies for ameliorating such problems and will implement such strategies and procedures. If such attempts do not restore the student to an acceptable level of professional functioning within a reasonable amount of time, discontinuation in the program may result. The specific procedures employed for the notice and acknowledgement and amelioration of student deficiencies will be described later in this policy.
General Responsibilities of the Clinical Psychology Program
A major focus of this program is to assist students in integrating their personal values, attitudes and functioning as individuals with their professional functioning. We are committed to providing the type of learning environment in which a student can meaningfully explore personal issues which relate to his/her professional functioning. The responsibilities correspond to the three general expectation areas (Professional Standards, Professional Competency, Personal Functioning) and are described below:
- The program will provide students with information regarding relevant professional standards and guidelines as well as providing appropriate avenues to discuss the implementations of such standards.
- The program will provide students with information regarding relevant legal regulations which govern the practice of psychology as well as providing appropriate forums to discuss the implementations of such standards. The program will further provide students with information regarding academic standards as well as information regarding academic policies of the university. Students will be reminded to review laws and regulations which govern the practice of psychology in their state.
- The program will provide periodic written evaluation of the student’s program with the content of such evaluations designed to facilitate student’s progress and growth as professionals. Academic evaluations will address the students’ knowledge of each particular knowledge area as determined by the competency standards established by the School of Psychology, as well as personal functioning consequences. Clinical evaluations will address the students’ knowledge of and adherence to professional standards, their professional skill competency, and their personal functioning as it relates to the delivery of professional services.
In accepting the above responsibilities, the Dean for Student Development or designee will maintain ongoing communications with the student’s cluster faculty regarding the student’s progress in all components of the program. The program will provide appropriate mechanisms by which inappropriate student behavior affecting professional and/or educational functioning is brought to the attention of the student.
Similar to practicing psychologists, students of professional psychology have a responsibility to address personal issues which may impair their performance in academic and/or clinical training, or may jeopardize the well-being of clients.
Students who come to the attention of faculty and administration as experiencing impairment issues will be treated with compassion, support, and dignity. It is a goal of the School of Psychology to help students successfully complete program requirements. Whereas it is clearly preferable for impairment to be dealt with through prevention or voluntary intervention, at times, the School of Psychology is called upon to intervene and assist in a student’s remediation of impairment issues.
Student impairment is defined as significant interference in functioning at the academic or professional training level to or associated with a health or mental health condition. More specifically, such health or mental health conditions often include, but are not limited to, the following:
- physical and emotional hardships
- chemical dependency
- stress, burnout
- extreme personal/relationship difficulties
- emotional and mental disorders
- cognitive impairment due to injury or illness
Finally, it is important to point out that impairment is not equivalent to incompetence or problematic behavior. Although individuals experiencing impairment may display problematic or incompetent behavior, such actions are closely linked with a health or mental health condition. Further, a person may experience health or mental health difficulties without being considered impaired.
The dismissal of a student from the School of Psychology is a significant event for both the student and program faculty. It represents the conclusion of the faculty that the student has cognitive, affective, and/or behavioral impairments that interfere with professional and/or educational functioning or, that the student has not demonstrated an adequate level of competency in either academic, clinical or research skills, or professional conduct. Dismissal action is generally the final outcome of several informal and formal communications (as detailed below) with the student regarding his or her unsatisfactory progress through the program and, when appropriate, special efforts at helping the student meet program requirements and training objectives.
Reasons for Dismissal from the Program
At any point during the student’s matriculation through the program, the faculty retains the right to review any student circumstances or personal performances that may negatively affect the student’s competencies for independent professional practice or that may threaten client welfare. The following are offered as examples of circumstances or performances may be the basis for dismissal action under this policy; many other instances of misconduct (e.g., academic dishonesty) are covered in other University policies, and these policies should be consulted as appropriate:
- Failure to maintain minimum academic standards
- Unsatisfactory performance in practice courses (e.g., practicum or internship)
- Criminal misconduct
- Unethical practices and/or unprofessional conduct as specified in APA or state guidelines for ethical behavior
- Cognitive, affective, and/or behavioral impairments that obstruct the training process and/or threaten client welfare.
The Program Director for Clinical Psychology or the Director of Clinical Training may recommend to the Dean for Student Development an interim suspension when a student’s behavior threatens to disrupt the educational process of the school, or when such behavior places the welfare of clients or others in jeopardy. Upon this recommendation, the Dean for Student Development may suspend the student when the student’s behavior threatens to disrupt the educational process or when such behavior threatens the welfare of others. Interim suspension will become effective immediately, without prior notice, and may be terminated by the Dean for Student Development at any time prior to or after the outcome of disciplinary proceedings. Students placed on an interim suspension will not be permitted to participate in some or all of the school’s activities, nor will they be allowed to take examinations or submit papers or other course work without written permission from the academic leader who recommended the interim suspension. Interim suspension will remain in effect until the Impairment/Incompetence committee recommends another course of action.
Students are welcome to come forward on their own to discuss any difficulties they believe may impair their ability to function in academic and/or clinical settings. Students who wish to discuss such difficulties can contact any psychology faculty member.
Faculty, students, or staff who are concerned about possible impairment in a School of Psychology student should proceed according to the following procedures:
- First, if possible, talk directly with the student to express concerns about possible impairment/incompetence and to encourage the student to remediate the problem. Provide the student with specific behavioral examples that support concerns.
- Encourage the student to approach the Clinical Psychology Program Director or Director of Clinical Training to discuss the issues involved.
- If faculty, student, or staff is unwilling or unable to talk to the student, they may report the concerns by speaking with either the Clinical Psychology Program Director or Director of Clinical Training. This may come to the administration as a specific complaint, observation at an event at Fielding Graduate University or outside the university, or a circumstance that suggests impairment/incompetence. Be prepared to provide specific behavioral examples that indicate a change in previous functioning.
Once such concerns have been brought to the attention of the program, informal attempts to resolve the problem will be pursued. If informal attempts do not resolve the problem within 30 days, the program will inform the Dean for Student Development of the ongoing problem. A committee chaired by the Dean for Student Development will examine the information in order to determine if there are reasonable grounds to suspect student impairment/incompetence. If the committee finds that a student is in its judgment impaired/incompetent, the committee will decide on a plan to address the concerns. The student will be notified by the committee chair of the committee recommendation(s) (see procedure below) for addressing the student impairment/incompetence.
To protect student due process rights as well as the rights of faculty to uphold the academic and professional standards of the School of Psychology, the following steps will be taken as part of the retention and dismissal review process:
- The student will be informed in writing by the Dean for Student Development of any complaint, event, or circumstance that suggest impairment/incompetence or violation of University, legal, ethical, or professional codes. Such complaints may emanate from members of the program, school or University faculty, clinical supervisors, clients, students, or professionals and agents outside the university community.
- As part of the above communication, the Dean for Student Development may initially advise the student to seek an informal resolution of the complaint with the accusing party, and to inform the Dean for Student Development of the outcome of this action within 30 calendar days.
- If, however, informal methods at problem resolution are inappropriate or unsatisfactory, the Dean or Program Director for Student Development will inform (in writing) the student, the student’s cluster faculty, and other interested parties that the student’s status in the program is being reviewed and that a formal meeting of the Impairment/Incompetence Committee will be necessary to evaluate the nature of the problem and to decide on a course of action. Depending on the nature of the complaints, event, or circumstance, a student’s status in the program may be in immediate jeopardy and the goal of the review would then be for the committee to decide whether to retain or dismiss the student from the program.
- The Dean for Student Development may invite any persons judged to have relevant information to submit such information either in person (either physically, or by conference call) at this meeting or in writing prior to the meeting. The student will be given copies of all written materials under consideration in advance of the meeting. The student would be invited to attend this meeting (physically or by conference call) and to present testimony. In addition, the student may invite other individuals who have relevant testimony to present material to the committee. The student will provide the Dean for Student Development with a list of these individuals at least 7 calendar days in advance of the scheduled meeting. The student has no right of cross examination. A student may have counsel present but counsel many not speak or advocate on behalf of the student.
- Following the presentation of testimony and evidence, the committee will convene separately to deliberate and to arrive at a decision regarding the student’s standing in the program. This decision may result in either (a) retention of the student in good standing, (b) a judgment to allow the student to continue in the program on probationary status until specified conditions are met, or (c) immediate dismissal of the student from the program. The decision of the committee shall be a collegial decision through reason/judgment of the committee. The decision shall not be subject to civil/criminal standards of proof.
- Following completion of the committee’s decision-making, the Dean for Student Development will inform the student and the student’s cluster faculty (in writing) of the committee’s decision and, if appropriate, clearly specify what if any conditions must be satisfied by the student to maintain his or her good standing within the program. The entire process from the point that it has been determined that an informal resolution could not be reached and a formal meeting of the Impairment Committee was necessary, to the written decision, should not exceed 45 calendar days.
- The student will also be advised that if he or she wishes to appeal the outcome of the committee’s decision, he/she will be allowed to appeal to the Provost within 10 calendar days. Failure to appeal within 10 calendar days renders the committee’s recommendations final. The written appeal must state the reason(s) why the student believes the committee’s recommendations are inappropriate. The Provost will review the case and will provide a decision to the student within 10 calendar days after the receipt of the written appeal. The decision of the Provost will be final.
Policy Revised 03/19/2014
Student Informal Complaints Procedure - EdD and IECD
Pursuant to Fielding Policy
A student complaint/grievance is an allegation by a student that there has been, in an individual case, an arbitrary or discriminatory application of, or failure to act pursuant to, the policies of Fielding Graduate University (specifically within the EdD/IECD programs) in relation to students. To start this procedure, the student sends a formal written request to a designated academic or administrative officer for which specific remedies are requested.
The parties to a grievance are the student filing the grievance and the person(s) against whom the grievance is filed.
An academic complaint/grievance is one involving faculty members, associate deans, the program director of a particular program, or the Dean of a particular program. Faculty evaluations and grading of student work are based upon the substantive judgment of the faculty and are not subject to a complaint/grievance.
An administrative complaint/grievance is one involving staff of Fielding Graduate University.
The informal complaint/grievance procedure within the EdD/IECD programs is the process a student initiates prior to filing a formal grievance with the University. The student initiating this process must be the individual against whom the alleged infraction has occurred.
A calendar day is any day of the week. For purposes of computing the time periods specified under steps 1 - 3 below, if the last day of this time period falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the last day will be construed as the Monday following that Saturday or Sunday. If the last day falls on a holiday, the last day will be construed as the next regular calendar day following the end of the holiday time period. If the next regular calendar day falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the last day will be the following Monday.
EdD/IECD Informal Procedure for Filing Academic and Administrative Complaints
This procedure is designed for dealing with issues relating to knowledge areas/courses; comprehensive assessments; dissertations and dissertation committees; cluster activities; mentor relationships; satisfactory academic progress; sessions; and related organizational work.
- The student raises the issue of concern with the faculty, administrator, student or other person(s) involved. This should be done within 14 calendar days after the student becomes aware there allegedly has been an arbitrary or discriminatory application of, or failure to act pursuant to, the policies of Fielding Graduate University (specifically within the EdD/IECD programs).
- If the issue is not resolved between the parties within 14 calendar days, the student may contact, in writing or email, the appropriate Program Director.
- The Program Director will mediate the dispute, within 14 calendar days after being contacted by the student, with the purpose of finding a resolution. During this process, the student may select another person (no faculty, staff or administrator) to assist them in preparing for and presenting their position at the mediation.
- If the issue is not resolved, the student may take the matter to the University’s formal grievance procedure within 14 calendar days after the mediation.
Policy Revised 10/18/2007
Student Informal Complaints Procedure - PSY
Students are to follow an informal complaint procedure prior to filing a formal academic grievance involving a faculty member. If a student has difficulty with one or more faculty members over an academic matter, these informal procedures can assist the student in resolving the difficulty without the need to file a formal grievance.
- The student should discuss the problem directly with the faculty member(s) with whom the student has a problem and/or ask the student’s faculty advisor to intercede. Faculty members are expected to respond to such an inquiry within five business days. It is recommended that any written correspondence between parties be saved.
- If the student is not satisfied with the results of (a), the student should contact a faculty or student member of the Psychology Personnel Committee. The informal complaint to the Personnel Committee member must be made within 45 days of the incident. The committee member contacted must inform the Personnel Committee as a whole within five days of being notified.
- If an unresolved dispute is with a member of the Personnel Committee, that member will not be included in the discussion by the committee as a whole and will be treated as any other non-committee faculty member in the complaint process. The faculty member who is the subject of the complaint will have an opportunity to respond to the complaint before any action is taken by the Personnel Committee.
- The Personnel Committee may assign one or more of its members to serve as mediator(s) with the student and faculty member(s). If the mediator(s) are unable to resolve the problem, the student may file a formal grievance.
- The Personnel Committee must resolve the matter satisfactorily with the student within 75 days of the original incident, so the student can still file a formal complaint within the 90 day time limit required by the formal grievance procedure.
Policy Revised 06/01/2013
Timely Response: Expectations of PSY Students
This policy is a companion to the faculty timely response policy. Just as students can contact faculty, staff, and administrators with the expectation of receiving a timely response, it is the student’s responsibility to attend to communications from the institutional personnel that request a response. Student timely communication is necessary for effective institutional functioning and to provide appropriate educational supports.
As a distributed learning environment, faculty, staff, and administrators may send students a communication that requires a response by email, postal mail, or by phone. It is the student’s responsibility to respond in a timely manner to those communications. The expectation is that a student will respond within ten calendar days. If there is no response, the sender should make a second attempt. If there is no response within ten calendar days, the sender should notify the Program Director immediately.
The Program Director will attempt to contact the student via registered letter to the student’s address on record requesting a response to the last communication in question. Lack of response to the registered letter after two weeks will result in an immediate suspension of 30 days. The Program Director’s office will continue to make a good faith attempt to contact the student to determine if there are mitigating circumstances that are preventing a response from the student. If circumstances warrant it, the Program Director may simply reinstate the student from suspension. If unable to make this determination within 30 days or circumstances do not warrant non-response, the Program Director will dismiss the student. Dismissal under these conditions requires an application for re-enrollment.
Policy Effective 07/01/2006