Ethical and Legal Issues
ethics= guideline “should” / law= rules “must”
Psychologist’s Environments- clinical, research, teaching
Administration (human resources) expert witnesses
Clinical vs counseling (not interested in pathology)
After WWII affected how the profession practice what they do—illness of the mind,
problems with behavior. It determined what the ethical guideline should be—how
to interact with ppl professionally, behaviorally, medically
- the concept of informed consent
Humans have the right to deny participation
Inform purpose and limits of interaction and agree to it
Therapist/client - outline of qualifications, what client should expect
There’re limits to confidentiality with regards to informed consent.
- everything discussed is confidential, which is a legal issue. “privilege” in legal
term: privilege as a client, everything said is confidential.
- Lawyers and spouses relationship enjoy absolute privilege in Ontario
There’re limitations to the confidentiality in the consent—can break confidentiality
in certain situation. Inform client which situations.
- Potential case of child abuse, legally in Ontario, obligated to follow up,
required to inform client of a potential case of child abuse that therapist is
required to report
Limitation to Informed Consent & Confidentiality: intention of suicide/homicide +
legal obligations to report a suicidal/homicidal just to your client (grey area: spouse
- Ontario: if during assessment, become suspicious of client’s ability to drive a
motorized vehicle, report to ministry of transportation
- Legal issue of privilege in Ontario: supreme court said therapist has the
privilege, unless the court requires therapist to report.
Client mention of such perhaps under frustration or with real intention? should
you report? grey area. What should be the response? Have you thought of a way
to commit suicide (how)
“have killed someone” expected privilege cannot report Ongoing/future behavior draws the line ot the grey area
Breach of ethics: lose license temp or permanent in extreme cases.
Who cannot legally provide informed consent?
Age of legal consent for children in Ontario is 10.
Cannot get consent from children under 10—no procedures can be done
consent can obtain from guardian before age of consent which is 18.
Btw 10-18: children consent, parents don’t—ethical dilemma
- Mentally incapacitated
- Under influence of drug
What if the person cannot provide informed consent (profoundly depressed) and
you need to operate a procedure (ECT to brain which causes seizure)? Get consent
from closest family member.
o Permenant memory loss.
Befriend with foreign exchange student, misread affection.
He was suffering from mood disorder, seeing psychologist. He murdered her.
- he told psycholgist about his relationship with Tarasoff. Began to feel angry
towards her. “I’m so angry, I could kill her”
- Psychologist reported to authority (ethically, he was responsible to inform
- Authority decided he is not immediate threat to Tarasoff.
Legal court sided with parents that the psychologist should’ve informed Tarasoff
and her parents.
This case sets legal precedent: inform person who the client is going to be violent
towards and ppl around.
APA/CPA guideline “I will not harm my client”—what constitutes harm?
Ethics in Research
Informed Consent. Withdraw at any time of participation in the research and
clinician. Deception: withhold info
- to consider value of deception: importance of research, availability of other
methods, how bad is the exp
Co-ception: include info untrue
Ethics in Teaching
In role of Psy prof with students, unethical to ask students to participate in his
research exp, or clinical relationship. Treatment
Usually used by psychologist
Individual psychotherapy vs group – less common for individual
Psychologically planned and ongoing interaction between a trained person and a
client who has a behavioral disorder
- Method of therapy used by Freud: free association
- offer no intervention, no feedback (strict Freudian psychoanalysis )
- look for freudian slip
Most psy use cognitive-behavioral therapy, based on theory of learning
- understanding that human is a thinking body, interpret and understand
environment in a unique way with inner thoughts and perceptions
- result of faulty learning of these thoughts and perceptions