Professional & Ethical Issues in Forensic Psych
Dr. Andria Hernandez
April 20, 2013
There are specific differences between forensic psychologists and counseling psychologists/therapists. Not just the obvious differences such as the forensic psychologist being retained by the courts, prosecution, or defense, and the counseling psychologist performing therapeutic treatments and sessions to help the client/patient heal, but other ethical differences that enable the forensic psychologist to disclose his/her finds to the entity that has retained him/her to assess, interview and test the defendant/examinee. In this paper, the ethical dilemma that is discussed is dual relationships, confidentiality and informed consent. A counseling therapist or psychologist cannot disclose information about his/her client without their written consent and a court order if needed. For the forensic psychologist, it is unavoidable to disclose his/her findings in an open court, it is contractual. So these two professions, however, similar, they are opposite when it comes to the ethical boundaries that they must abide. It is the hypothesis of this paper that the two fields cannot ethically coincides without doing harm to the client/patient/examinee.
The Ethical Dilemma of Playing both a Therapeutic and a Forensic Role: The difference One must first understand the definition of what a forensic psychologist does in his profession. For the sake of education and information, the definition of a forensic psychologist according to Psychology Today’s Dr. Marisa Mauro, forensic psychology is combining the field of psychology and the law. The duties of a forensic psychologist differ depending on his/her area of expertise. They perform specific duties asked of them by the hiring entity such as the court, prosecution or in some cases the defense. A forensic psychologist may be asked to assess an examinee for competence to stand trial or for a mental disability or mental retardation. In some cases, the forensic psychologist may work for a prison and is asked to assess the inmate for a specific assessment such as pedophile, paraphilia, or aggression. This would aid the parole board in making an informed decision when time for the parole board to meet and either grant parole or deny parole. (Mauro, 2010) The next definition is that of the counseling psychologist or therapist. Counseling Psychology/Therapist incorporates an extensive array of culturally-sensitive theories and treatment technique applications that support individual development and welfare relieve anguish and instability, help to resolve problems, and raise their capabilities to function better in their lives. This professional pays close attention to the details of the sessions and making several notes throughout the sessions in order to better serve their client with actual quotes from the session and rephrasing for accurate interpretation. The counseling psychologist/therapist is bound by ethical principles of the American Psychological Association. ("Society of Counseling Psychologists," 2013) Arguments of fact are that both of these fields abide by ethical standards, both fields are serving the people, and most of all, both fields are licensed psychologists, these arguments are profound. However, the field of forensic psychology works in conjunction with the legal system thus resulting in forensic testing, assessment and interviews of the defendant/examinee. One way to avoid ethical dilemmas is to incorporate the 8-step decision making model by Bush, Connell, and Denney (2013). The steps are easy to understand and will enable the forensic practitioner to evaluate their course of action, find other directions that may benefit the client more, and resolutions that may aid in the outcome of the dilemma. The first step is 1) Identify the problem,...