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Legal Aspects of Professional Psychology

Legal Aspects of Professional Psychology

Legal aspects of professional psychology stands protected and covers an inclusive range to include; informed consent, informed refusal, assessment, testing, diagnosis, confidentiality, competence, and The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA). These legal aspects are in place to ensure psychology professionals are making the “best” ethical decision relation to his or her client. It is imperative psychology professionals do not violate ethical standards or state laws, and at the same time, certify each client has accurate information and treatment related to his or her diagnosis. This paper will describe the impact legal aspects have on professional psychology and legal concern associated with informed consent and refusal, legal concerns related to assessments, testing, and diagnosis. Moreover, this will substantiate the importance and challenges of maintaining confidentiality in therapeutic relationships and clarify the significance of competence in professional psychology.

Legal Issues Related to Informed Consent and Refusal

Informed consent defines a legal process to guarantee a client, research participant, or patient is completely aware of potential hazards and costs related to procedures or treatment. Components of informed consent incorporate advising the client of treatment options, likely alternatives, risks, and most important the advantages of treatment. Informed consent is considered legal or binding when the consent is provided on a voluntary basis, client is competent of his or her actions, and made known of the risks involved. Pope and Vasquez (2011) state, “the process of informed consent provides both the patient and therapist an opportunity to make sure that they adequately understand their shared venture” (Pope & Vasquez, 2011). It is a process of communication and clarification. Moreover, informed consent is crucial to the process of healing that initiates trust and communication between the therapist and client. The client has a legal right to accept or reject the process of informed consent, which ultimately protects the professional and client form undesirable legal ramifications. This is known as a lawsuit or malpractice suit where the client/Plaintiff seeks damages for professional negligence.

However, when a client declines authorization for treatment another person may be elected to give informed consent, such as a parent, legal guardian, or power of attorney. When each of these options has been exhausted and the client continues to decline professional services, he or she has verbally given a competent refusal for professional services. When a client refuses treatment the therapist is accountable for clarifying consequences, risks, and documentation linked to denying professional treatment. Without documentation of “informed refusal” the professional may be liable if harm or death occurs. The documentation will protect the therapist in case of a hearing, malpractice lawsuit, or for a court proceeding. A patient who refuses services and has extreme health issues or is a minor, the therapist has an obligation to consult a specialist in ethics, a judge, or lawyer to ensure others are not mentally or physical affected by a client’s refusal for services. When a professional fails to chart accurate procedures or complications related to the patient, an error arises, or the therapist fails to include information excluded from informed consent a malpractice lawsuit will be filed. Then the client/plaintiff is protected legally and pursues compensation for physical or mental damages, misconduct, or exploitation as a result of professional negligence.

Legal issues associated with Assessment, Diagnosis, and Testing

Psychological assessment, testing, and diagnosis insist on professional competence. The...
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