Best Practice Documents and Guidelines

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The Code of Ethics for Psychologists Working in Aotearoa New Zealand 2002

The main document guiding the practice of all psychologists in New Zealand is the Code of Ethics for Psychologists Working in Aotearoa New Zealand 2002 (the Code). Although aspirational, it is also referenced by the Board, by the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal, and by the courts as a guide and as a helpful indicator of proper practice and ethical standards. The Code can be downloaded in either English or Te Reo.


A note regarding specific advice from the Board

The Board’s secretariat often field telephone and email enquiries about specific practice and ethical issues. While we try to be as helpful as possible, it is not appropriate for us to give specific advice or direction as this would compromise our ability to fairly assess and determine any notifications and/or complaints that may follow. Further, while we may be able to help identify some key issues or questions, we cannot fairly and robustly assess sensitive and/or ethically complex situations during a brief, informal contact. So while we encourage practitioners to continue to contact us for initial assistance, we also ask that you understand the limitations to what assistance we can offer. We also encourage all psychologists to review the Board's published Best Practice Guidelines (see below), to engage in regular supervision, and to make full use of the supports and services offered through the two collegial bodies (NZPsS and NZCCP) and through indemnity insurance providers.


The Board's Best Practice Guidelines

The Board is committed to developing guidelines to support psychologists in providing competent and ethical practice. These guidelines will be consistent with the principles of the Code of Ethics and will enlarge on an aspect of practice in light of current specialised knowledge and Board policy.

Psychologists are expected to familiarise themselves with guidelines adopted by the Board, and to review their practice accordingly. Although not prescriptive, guidelines may be referenced in evaluating a practitioner’s conduct or competence in the event of an investigation or review. 

 Proposed guidelines will be developed in stages. The Board’s secretariat will:

  • Announce the intention to develop a specific guideline.
  • Collate relevant background material.
  • Invite initial comment and offers of assistance.*
  • Coordinate review by a working/reference group*.
  • Draft and redraft the guideline with input from the working group.
  • Present the draft guideline to the Board for consideration.
  • Produce and publish a final draft (“proposed guideline”) for consultation.
  • Incorporate feedback and present the final version to the Board for endorsement.
  • Publish the guideline.
  • Review and update the guideline every three years.

*Membership on a working/reference group will involve review of initial documents (including an early draft) with a view to make written comments and to participate in a teleconference discussion. If volunteering for this role, it would be helpful if you indicate in your email what the basis is for your interest, whether you have experience with the subject matter of the guideline, and any other relevant details. To volunteer, please contact Anne Goodhead.


Guidelines that have been adopted by the Board:

Guidelines on Unprofessional Behaviour and its Management in the Workplace

These guidelines were adopted by the Board in May 2010. They can be downloaded here.

Supervision Guidelines

These guidelines were adopted by the Board in May 2010. They can be downloaded here.

What to do when you have Concerns about another Psychologist

These guidelines were adopted by the Board in February 2011. They can be downloaded here

Keeping Records of Psychological Services

These guidelines were adopted by the Board in November 2011 and updated in March 2014 (re Cloud storage) and August 2017 (re records held electronically). They can be downloaded here.

The Practice of Telepsychology

These guidelines have been developed through a lengthy consultation period and consideration of the guidelines developed by regulatory authorities for psychologists in other countries. Although the guidelines reflect the current legislation which regulates psychological practice in New Zealand (the HPCA Act), it is likely that legislation will be updated in the future to better address practice via electronic media. It is also likely that these guidelines (which reflect the Board’s current policy) will be challenged by case law (following a complaint arising from practice where the psychologist and client are in different countries). Therefore, although these guidelines hold “Final” status, they are subject to open review should events prompt further development. These guidelines were adopted by the Board in December 2012. They can be downloaded here.

The Use of Psychometric Tests

The guidelines on “The Use of Psychometric Tests” were approved for publication at the Board’s meeting on 21 February 2013. A revised version, incorporating advice re the use of online services, was adopted in March 2015.  They can be downloaded here.

Maintaining professionalism when using social media networking

The guidelines on “Maintaining professionalism when using social media networking” were approved for publication at the Board’s meeting on 22 August 2013. They can be downloaded here.

Informed Consent

The guidelines on "Informed Consent" were originally approved for publication at the Board's meeting on 25 February 2016, and a revised version was approved on 23 February 2017. They can be downloaded here.

Coping with a client's suicide

The guidelines on "Coping with a client's suicide" were approved for publication at the Board's meeting on 24 August 2017. They can be downloaded here.


Our thanks once again to all who contributed to the development of these guidelines.


Guidelines currently under development:

Guidelines will soon be developed on "Working with Sexual and Gender Diverse clients", and on "Practitioner self-care and resilience". See the "Consultation" tab under "What's New" on our homepage for updates.

The Board welcomes your suggestions for other guidelines that you think should be developed to support the profession.

We welcome your comments on this website, on your interaction with the Board, or on any other aspect of the work we do.