Therapists Legal Obligations

In addition, the American Counselors Association`s Code of Ethics states: “The general requirement that counselors keep information confidential does not apply if disclosure is necessary to protect clients or identified individuals from serious and foreseeable harm, or if legal requirements require that confidential information be disclosed. Advisors consult with other professionals if they have doubts about the validity of an exception,” in section B.2.a. Psychologists often face ethical dilemmas and must use their best judgment to determine the right course of action. The duty to warn is a challenge in many cases, but therapists are legally required to overcome it. Ethical therapists NEVER casually share information about people in therapy with friends, family, or colleagues. The legal mandate known as the “duty to protect” or “duty to warn” is complicated and raises questions for many practitioners. It helps to be aware of the obligations you may face as a practicing psychologist when you see a potentially dangerous patient at risk of hurting one or more other people. Can therapists/psychiatrists share therapy sessions with colleagues or friends WITHOUT patients` knowledge and consent, but also without mentioning personal identifiers? As a patient, I wouldn`t even allow a therapist to talk about me outside the room, even without mentioning my name. But I see many psychiatrists or therapists telling stories of their patients (without their consent or even without their knowledge) in a poetic and glorious way. Their justification is that they do not reveal the identity of the patient (so they do not violate confidentiality).

Is it ethical? If not, could you please give me a reference so I can show these therapists? The duty to warn gives counsellors and therapists the right and duty to violate confidentiality if they believe a client poses a risk to another person. It also protects clinicians from prosecution for breach of confidentiality if they have reasonable grounds to suspect that the client may pose a danger to themselves or others. Most situations remain secret. For example, Reed noted that even if a woman cheats on her husband and they divorce, the therapist has no legal obligation to disclose this information to the court. The specifics of a legal warning obligation vary by state. In most cases: Although the legal obligation to warn was made decades ago, it remains controversial. In 2013, Donald N. Bersoff, then president of the APA, suggested that the Tarasoff decision was a bad one. Client confidentiality, he suggested, is paramount and the breach undermines the trust clients place in their mental health providers. Neither the police nor Poddar`s therapists warned Tatiana Tarasoff or her family of the threats.

Poddar continued to pursue the young woman and murdered her on October 27, 1969. Poddar went to the Tarasoff house armed with a kitchen knife and a pellet gun. After a confrontation, Tarasoff screamed for help, after which Poddar shot him with the pellet gun. Many therapists are not necessarily good, competent or properly trained; Some are even dangerous. I know therapists who have sexually exploited their patients. Chances are your therapist is one of them. I have seen both good and good. The bad ones can do a lot of damage. The best scenario would be to delay your healing. Worst-case scenarios can be nightmarish.

I am still being persecuted by a psychiatrist who seriously injured me 20 years ago! But good ones can help a lot. For example, therapists must report if a patient poses a threat to themselves or others. This may mean that the patient has threatened suicide, repeatedly injured himself, or threatened to harm another person. In this case, a therapist may recommend hospitalization so that the patient can be monitored. Once the patient is deemed stable, the therapist may work with close friends or family members to develop a support plan for the patient to maintain this sense of stability. “The No. 1 concern therapists have for clients is safety,” Walwyn-Duquesnay said. “Therapists are not only responsible for creating a safe therapeutic environment, they are also responsible for ensuring that clients take care of themselves and the people around them on a daily basis.” The duty to warn refers to the responsibility of a counsellor or therapist to inform third parties or authorities if a client poses a danger to themselves or another identifiable person.

This is one of the rare cases where a therapist can violate the client`s confidentiality. Normally, ethical guidelines require therapists to keep information disclosed during therapy top secret. In addition, therapists are required to report ongoing child abuse or neglect. In these cases, various officers may be brought into the herd, including law enforcement or child protection services. Again, this is a measure created to ensure a patient`s safety and it shouldn`t stop you from being open and honest about your situation with your therapist. Here are some cases where a therapist would be required by law to violate a patient/client confidentiality clause and report what they heard during a session. The final exception is that the therapist is summoned or compelled by a judge to testify. These circumstances are rare and therapists can usually claim “privileged communication”.

Overall, your therapist should never reveal your identity or any other information that makes you identifiable to others. There may be times when your therapist discusses your situation with other therapists or their supervisors, which is known as consultation, but even in these situations, the therapist is obligated to preserve your identity and privacy as much as possible. If therapists or clients have questions about the circumstances in which reporting is mandatory, contacting the licensing body is a good place to start for that professional. For example, in some States, confidentiality is violated only when violence takes place within the family. Understanding these mandates in your state can help you make informed decisions about your interactions with a therapist and not be surprised by these laws. As many psychologists know, the historic legal case concerning a duty to warn is the Tarasoff case. In that case, the California Supreme Court ruled in 1976: If child abuse is suspected, therapists must file a report if they have a “reasonable suspicion” of child abuse. However, there are specific situations where psychiatrists are required by law to report something a client does or says during a therapy session. Most states have laws that require or allow psychiatrists to disclose information about patients who may become violent. These laws are receiving increased attention in the wake of recent mass shootings such as those in Aurora, Colorado, and Newtown, Connecticut. A New York law enacted on January 15, 2013, transitions the state`s law from a permissive obligation to one for psychiatrists to report when they believe patients may pose a danger to themselves or others, but protects therapists from civil and criminal liability for failure to report if they act “in good faith.” New York`s new law also allows law enforcement to remove firearms from patients who may be dangerous.

(Note: Please refer to the table below for updating.) Anyone who thinks the therapist won`t talk about them outside of sessions is delusional. You will probably notice the respect that your real name is not used. But how naïve does it take for someone reading this article (or especially the author) to think that therapists don`t talk about their patients, therapists can also be the most talkative people. My 14-year-old grandchildren (we have legal guardianship) see individual therapists. The court ordered family therapy between mother and children (after 6 years of absence from the mother following allegations of child abuse against her and her current husband), but therapists state that they cannot speak to the family therapist. The court wants the family therapist to talk to the mothers and the children`s individual therapist before the sessions begin and for the child therapist to sit down privileged. What can we do? According to ethical standards dating back to the Roman Hippocratic Oath, physicians and psychiatrists are generally required to maintain the confidentiality of information disclosed to them by patients in the context of the doctor-patient relationship. With a few exceptions, codified in federal and state law, medical professionals can be held legally liable for breaches of confidentiality.

One exception stems from an effort to protect potential victims of a patient`s violent behaviour. California courts have psychotherapists in Tarasoff v. 1976. The Regents of the University of California. This case triggered the adoption of “duty to warn” or “protect” laws in almost every state, as summarized in the map and in more detail in the table below. Here, several therapists discuss the confidentiality of therapy sessions: It is important to note that the duty to warn only obliges therapists to inform individuals and authorities of certain threats. You should not discuss the details of your patient`s care or treatment. Any information that is not relevant to the immediate threat must remain confidential. Lisa M. Vallejos, MA, LPC, NCC: Therapy is confidential and therapists are required by law and ethics to maintain client confidentiality to the best of their ability.

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