Duty to Protect

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Duty to Warn/ Duty to Protect

BSHS 335: Ethics and Values for Human Services Professionals By:
Monica Sandoval

Confidentiality between client and therapist could be a risky and tricky. There is no set standard toward the restrictions of its content. It’s morally right to respect and protect the client trusting information but at times it is ethically and legally impossible to keep this information confidential. The duty to warn is that obligated by case law the therapist has to notify the victim or law enforcement of serious threat or harm (Corey, Corey, & Callanan,  2011). “The duty to protect maintains ways to maintain client confidentiality” (Corey, Corey, & Callanan, 2011). The purpose of this paper will be to identify legal history of duty to warn and duty to protect, to identify legal and ethical dilemmas that can arise when breaking confidentiality and how this writer would address such dilemmas. In 1976, in the Tarasoff vs. The Regents of the University of California the Supreme Court ruled that it was a legal obligation on psychotherapist enforced by civil suit to warn a victim of potential harm by patient. The duty to warn became a law in most states of the United States (Herbert & Young, 2003). The Tarasoff case is based on Prosenjit Poddar, an outpatient of the mental services of the University of California Berkley who was receiving counseling from psychologist Moore. At one session Poddar had mentioned he has intentions of killing a woman, Tatiana Tarasoff. Moore than advised the authorities and campus police who then was detained but released due to having no sign of insanity. Poddar then killed Tatiana Tarasoff. As victim and family was not advice of threat and possible harm, Tarasoff family filed a suit against the board of regents and the University of California employees for their failure to warn the victim. This is when after examining the case “the duty to warn” became a law. In 2004 the Tarasoff law, “duty to warn was...