EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY SERVICES CODE OF CONDUCT

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1 EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY SERVICES CODE OF CONDUCT MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND CULTURE NICOSIA

2 FOREWORD The new course of the Republic of Cyprus within United Europe, aims, amongst other things, at materializing the renewal and modernization of the community and the nation, particularly in achieving democratic reformations in all stages of education. The active citizen is placed in the centre of this composite effort, who, according to Aristotle, knows how to rule and be ruled, safeguard his rights and fulfill his obligations. The Charter of the Citizen s Rights that the Ministry of Education and Culture (MEC) has prepared and placed into circulation comes to strengthen and improve the existing services provided by its Management Teams and Departments. In particular, it is based on the notification of essential information, the analysis of procedures and methods, the provision of advice and explanation, and the presentation and clarification of statutory frameworks, within which both MEC services and citizens should operate concerning matters relating to Education and Culture. Transparency of procedures, quality of services and provision of services in a speedy, just and polite manner, as well as effective co-operation with educators, parents, students, and in general with all citizens, are major objectives of the Ministry of Education and Culture. In particular, the Educational Psychology Service plays a major role in this effort, not only by developing therapeutic interventions but also by emphasizing preventive efforts within the school system. In general, the Educational Psychology Services assist in issues of mental health and contribute to procedures concerning the best social and mental development and adjustment of students. Pefkios Georghiades Minister of Education and Culture 2

3 CONTENTS Introduction Referral procedures Direct Referrals from Parents 1.2 Referrals from Schools 1.3 Referrals from District Committees of Special Education (DCSP) 2. Interventions Collaboration Individual Referrals and Intervention 2.2 Promoting Mental Health and Facilitating Learning at the School Community Level through Programs and Interventions 2.3 Prevention of Dependency and Drug use - Coordinating Committee for Health Education and Citizenship (CCHEC) 2.4 Prevention of School Violence and Juvenile Delinquency 3. Professional Ethics - Rights General 3.2 The Right to be Informed about the Provision of Psychological Services and the Right of Access to them 3.3 Informed Consent for Psychological Assessment and Intervention Students Parents 3.4 Issues of Confidentiality and Discretion 3.5 Confidentiality of Personal Information 3.6 Dissemination of Information and Data 3.7 Psychological Report 3

4 EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY SERVICES INTRODUCTION Educational Psychology Services come directly under the authority of the Director General of the MEC. It is a cross-departmental service and it addresses all levels of public education (Pre-elementary, Elementary, General Secondary Education and Secondary Technical and Vocational Education). The mission of the Educational Psychology Services is the protection and promotion of mental health and the development of all aspects of every individual that participates in the educational system, as well as the facilitation of learning for all students. Educational Psychology services address students, parents and school personnel. The services of educational psychologists are provided in either the form of individualized interventions for learning and adjustment difficulties, or in the form of wider and more general preventive interventions and programs. Despite the fact that Educational Psychology services refer to children, parents and educators, in case of conflicts of interest, ethically, Educational Psychologists act as advocates for the rights of students. The Educational Psychology Service has three district offices in the towns of Larnaca, Limassol and Nicosia. Additionally, two more sub-offices are operating in Famagusta and Pafos to fulfill the needs of the local area. 1. Nicosia District Office. Corner Kimonos and Thoukydidou, 1434 Nicosia, Cyprus Telephone: Limassol - Paphos District Office. No. 4. Corner Dodekanisou and Grigiriou Afksentiou, 3021 Limassol Telephone: Larnaca-Famagusta District Office. 81 Stratigou Timagia, Elenion Megaro 6051, P.C.40065, 6300 Telephone: Information: Educational Psychology Services Corner Kimonos and Thoukydidou, 1434 Nicosia, Telephone: Fax:

5 I. REFERRAL PROCEDURE Concerning individual referrals, Educational Psychologists offer their services, after a request is being made based on the process outlined below. In cases of emergency and crisis, Educational Psychologists take immediate action. I.I Direct Referrals from Parents Parents that require the assistance of Educational Psychologists for learning, behavioral or emotional difficulties of their children, can apply directly to the Educational Psychology Services by completing the specific Educational Psychology Service s Referral Form, which they can obtain from their local Educational Psychological Services District Office. I.2 Referrals from Schools Each school, through their Principal, can apply to the Educational Psychological Services for cases concerning individual students, by completing the related form and sending it to their local Educational Psychology Services District Office. Prior to the completion of this form, another procedure needs to be completed. That is, the Mechanism for Identification and Support of Children with Learning, Emotional and/or other Difficulties, that refers to all public schools of Elementary, General Secondary and Secondary Technical and Vocational education. According to the Mechanism of Identification and Support of Children, as soon as a child is identified as requiring assistance, the parents are invited to collaborate with the school. Aims are proposed, actions are undertaken at school and at home and the child s progress is monitored. If, after a given period and despite all the efforts no progress is made, then the Educational Psychologist is invited for further investigation of the difficulty. The school then completes the specific form for inviting the Educational Psychologist to the school. In exceptional or emergency type cases, the Educational Psychologist responds immediately upon request, even following communication solely via telephone. I.3 Referrals from District Committees of Special Education (DCSE) The DCSE operate according to the 1999 Law governing Education and Special Needs (N.113/1/99). The District Committees, after examining the cases that concern the referrals sent to them, form a primary multidisciplinary team, within which an Educational Psychologist may be included. 5

6 2. INTERVENTIONS COLLABORATION 2.1 Individual Referrals and Interventions A basic starting point prior to dealing with an individual case is obtaining the parents consent to refer the child s case to the Educational Psychology Services. Simultaneously, depending on the child s age, the child also needs to be informed of this procedure. When Educational Psychologists receive the referral form, according to the information contained in it, they proceed with preliminary examination of the case. In continuation, they contact the school and the parents involved, and they organize further actions. They inform the school or the parents about their planned activities and of their requirement to inform the child about their impending meeting with the Educational Psychologist. In the process of dealing with individual cases, the Educational Psychologist engages the child, the family and the school. With their findings as the basis, and in cooperation with all those involved (students, parents, educators, other professionals) an action plan is then formulated for dealing with the case. The information gathered by the Educational Psychologist during the above process is confidential and disclosing of this information is prohibited. Assessments and recommendations that concern student s cases are outlined in their reports that are forwarded to the relevant parties. The management of individual cases continues, depending on the needs of each case. 2.2 Promoting Mental Health and Facilitating Learning at the School Community Level Through Programs and Interventions The Educational Psychologist, in cooperation with all parties within the educational system, is concerned with the inclusion and support of children with sensory or mental disabilities or severe learning difficulties, through the application of the different programs that follow: Programs for supporting children with severe learning difficulties. Programs for the induction and support of children with sensory Disabilities. Program for supporting children with mental disabilities. Literacy Programs in Secondary Schools Programs that are directed to special groups of children (at risk children). 6

7 In addition, they are concerned with designing and applying preventive programs that aim mainly at the promotion of mental health, the development of social skills, and the enhancement of emotional intelligence and the improvement of communication skills. Moreover, they develop activities that promote health education and assist in preventing learning difficulties, school violence and delinquency. 2.3 Prevention of Dependency and Drug Use Coordinating Committee for Health Education and Citizenship (CCHEC) Educational Psychologists play a major role in the systematic and coordinated attempts that the MEC undertakes within the context of the Action Plan for the prevention of drug use. Within the framework of the Anti-Drug Council of Cyprus and with decision of the Minister of Education and Culture Mr Pefkios Georgiades, the CCHEC was formed and now operates. A representative of the Educational Psychology Services chairs the Committee. It is also composed of representatives of different MEC Departments and Services, and within it, representatives of the Anti-Drug Council of Cyprus and Ministry of Health also take part. The CCHEC, according to its terms of commission, is engaged in the promotion of a preventative strategy in schools, as this is outlined within the Action Plan of the Anti-Drug Council of Cyprus. The CCHEC has responsibility for topics related to drugs and health education, and it undertakes a coordinating and directing role at the level of the MEC, as well as at the school level and for all grades. Schools, educators, parents and students may contact the CCHEC or the Educational Psychology Services to assist them in organizing activities or programs in the field of prevention and use of drugs Prevention of School Violence and of juvenile delinquency 0ne of the major aims of the preventative programs of the Educational Psychology Services is the prevention of violence in school and of juvenile delinquency. Educational Psychologists develop programs and interventions in cooperation with schools and educators. In context of contemporary views on developing links between the school and the community, obtaining partnership with the Local Authority, but also including the school, family and the wider community, the Educational Psychology Services develop preventative programs about juvenile delinquency in cooperation with Local and Municipal Authorities or other local organizations. These programs are based on partnership between the Community, School, Family and Young People. 7

8 3. PROFESSIONAL ETHICS RIGHTS 3.1. General The professional activities of Educational Psychologists are governed by the laws of the state, the current instructions / circulars of the Attorney General, their Job Description, as well as the Code of Ethical Conduct a series of standards based on ethical and professional principles and values -, that is developed by qualified professional bodies within each country. In Cyprus, the Code of Ethical Conduct developed by the Cyprus Psychological Association is effective, as well as the Charter of Professional Ethics for Psychologists of the European Federation of Psychologists Association (EFPA). The Code of Ethical Conduct guides the psychologists themselves, so that they behave in an ethical, correct and proper manner while practicing their profession, but it also provides ethical criteria by which their behavior can be judged by third parties. A basic principle governing the work of Educational Psychologists is respecting and protecting the dignity and rights of people (their clients), with whom they maintain a professional relationship. The application of this principle is secured through the following practice. 3.2 The Right to be Informed about the Provision of Psychological Services and the Right of Access to them Every person who participates in a school system, every student, parent and educator, has the right to be informed about the services that the Educational Psychology Services offer in schools and to have direct and unobstructed access to them. 3.3 Informed Consent for Psychological Assessment and Intervention Legally, the obligation to ask students their consent depends upon the age at which the law assumes that a person is an adult and is irrespective of the level of intellectual and social development of the student. In the case of a minor, parents or guardians consent is requested Students Students have the right to seek psychological assistance for themselves. Depending on their age, their parents or guardians are informed as soon as possible. Despite the fact that the primary client of the Educational Psychology Services is the student, they are usually referred to the Educational Psychologist from third parties the parent(s), the school or the DCSE. In every case though, the student must be informed, in a manner that is compatible with their age and comprehensive ability, about the identity/ specialization of the Educational Psychologist, about the main aspects of their professional relationship with them, about the content, the duration and/or the termination of services. In addition, attempts need to be made, to ensure the client s cooperation and to explain to them that they 8

9 have the right to accept or terminate the provision of psychological services whenever they want to do so Parents When parents apply to the Educational Psychology Services for assistance, they need to be informed from the Educational Psychologist about the requirement to obtain their child s consent (depending on their age and comprehension ability) and the establishment of their child s voluntary cooperation with the Educational Psychologist. In addition, the parents are informed that since the problems they are seeking assistance for are related to learning difficulties and/or school adjustment, it is likely that the cooperation of the Psychologist with the school community will be sought for assessment and/or intervention purposes. When third parties (for example, the school, another party, organization or person) requests the assistance of an Educational Psychologist regarding a specific child, it is essential - except under certain circumstances where a child s personal safety and/ or physical integrity is directly threatened that parents are informed and provide their consent for psychological intervention of any kind to proceed. It is noted, that according to the Special Education Act / Law of 1999 (no.1137(1)99), the qualified DCSE has a duty to fully assess every child that it judges as possibly having special needs, and consequently, it may refer children for psychological assessment from an Educational Psychologist, without being essential to establish their parents consent in advance. Even in this case, Educational Psychologists consider it their duty to encounter the parents prior to beginning any process with their child, to involve them and to inform them of their intervention processes and the progress that is noted, within the parameters that are placed by their requirement to maintain confidentiality. 9

10 3. ETHICS RIGHTS 3.4 Issues of Confidentiality and Discretion Professional discretion is assured by the principles of the Ethics Code and covers the psychologists obligation to protect the confidentiality of their clients personal information, the maintenance of a registry, the use and transmission of information to a third party. According to article 25 of the Ethics Code, The professional confidentiality covers everything the psychologists see, hear or apprehend during their practice and which concern the private life of their clients. Every effort is made, so that the private confidentiality is not violated and the pursuit and notification of information is limited to the cases where it is needed for specific coherent and designated purpose. This must always be accomplished with the advance notification and consent of the person involved (student or / and parent or legal guardian, when it comes to a small child). Educational Psychologists maintain the discretion, related to the information they apprehend during their professional relationship with their clients. Information is only disclosed after obtaining the informed consent of the student or according to his age the parent or legal guardian. Information can also be disclosed when a life- threatening situation exists or when there is a threat to the physical integrity of a client. Information can also be disclosed when there is suspicion of violence in the family. The disclosure of information is made only to the pertinent people. The Educational Psychologist informs the students and the other clients everything concerning the boundaries of the professional confidentiality at the beginning of their professional relationship. 3.5 Confidentiality of Personal information A registry is maintained at the Educational Psychology Service, which includes the personal files of referred students. The maintenance of the personal cases registry in the Educational Psychology Service is under the knowledge of the Commissioner for the Protection of Data, according the 2001 Law (article 138(1)/2001) about the Elaboration of Personal Data Character (Protection of Person). The Service has the ethical but also the legal obligation, which is issued from the above law, and includes measures of protection of personal data that are included in the registry. Ability to access the registry is reserved to the pertinent people that are given the right to do so. 10

11 Educational Psychologists are obliged to keep their clients informed of the procedure of the maintenance of the registry and the authorship of essays and reports in which personal information is included. 3.6 Dissemination of Information and Data Educational Psychologists make sure that information that concerns their clients is disseminated to authorized people or carriers. Information is transmitted usually to the District Boards of Special Education, the Directors of Department of the Ministry of Education and Civilization, the School Principles, the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the Department of Social Services, and other professionals as well (doctors, psychiatrist, psychologist etc.). It is mandatory to inform the clients and ensure their consent in cases of the transmission of personal information. In case of the use of data from the registry or personal cases for the purposes of scientific research and presentation, EPS has the obligation to take the right measures, not to reveal the identity of the participants and for data to remain anonymous and confidential. 3.7 Psychological Report The Psychological Report is the basic way of transmitting information to other partners and the main purpose of it is to guide the decision making process for the child s interest. The students and parents or legal guardians have the right to access the reports/essays of their concern and the rights to take the necessary actions for efficient and comprehensible information that will guide them take decisions towards their interest. Translation by: Atalanti Louka Polina Themistokleous Elena Trifonos Nasia Trigonaki Pavlou Andria Kyriakou Odysseos Elena Kokkinofta 11

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