Tarasoff Confidentiality and Informed Consent

Topics: Psychology, Informed consent, Clinical psychology Pages: 6 (805 words) Published: July 3, 2015

Tarasoff; Confidentiality and Informed Consent

This paper describes the events that took place concerning Prosenjit Poddar and Tatiana Tarasoff, as well as the ruling in the case of Tarasoff v. Board of Regents of the University of California. The ruling was not a favorable one at first, leaving psychologists feeling this would breach their patients trust. Confidentiality is crucial in a therapist-client relationship. “Legislators reacted to therapists’ concerns regarding the conflict of duties and enacted exceptions to confidentiality statuses when warning was necessary to protect third parties” (“Confidentiality after Tarasoff,” 1994, para. 9).

Tarasoff; Confidentiality and Informed Consent

Confidentiality and informed consent are a crucial factor in the field of psychology. Clients expect that they will be able to speak freely, without the fear of being judged, or their information being breached. In 1969, on behalf of the Tarasoff case, the California Supreme Court ruled that therapists be required to protect third parties from harm. Before consenting to treatment, clients are aware of this requirement. They then are allowed to accept or refuse treatment, however, consent is not valid unless it is volunteered. For example, consent is not considered valid if the therapist feels that the client is being coerced in any way. What exactly lead to this new requirement? The unfortunate killing of a young woman, named Tatiana Tarasoff. In the summer of 1969, Prosenjit Poddar revealed to his therapist, that he planned on killing a young woman, her name was never mentioned. His therapist, Dr. Moore, took his threat seriously and immediately contacted campus police. Campus police apprehended him, but was soon released, stating that he appeared rational and swore he would not hurt the woman (“Confidentiality after Tarasoff,” 1994). Unfortunately, two months later, Tatiana Tarasoff was murdered at the hands Prosenjit Poddar. Her family filed a lawsuit against the campus police, mental health staff, and the Regents of the University of California; they were never notified of Poddar’s threats towards Tarasoff. (“Confidentiality after Tarasoff,” 1994) The California Supreme Court's later ruled; when a therapist is confronted by a patient that makes accountable threats towards another individual, they must take logical steps in an attempt to prevent harm towards the mentioned individual ("American Psychological Association", 2015). Psychologists are obligated to keep their patients information confidential. They are only allowed to disclose patient information if it is by court order, the client has given written or oral permission, or an advocate consents on behalf of the client ("American Psychological Association", 2015). “Defendants argued that requiring therapists to warn would be a breach of patients’ trust” (“Confidentiality after Tarasoff,” 1994, para. 7). The courts later stated that the requirement to warn could be carried out in a number of ways. Nevertheless, psychologists are required to take any steps necessary under the circumstances. (“Confidentiality after Tarasoff,” 1994). However, clients are aware of the requirements before giving consent to be treated. Informed consent is a legal obligation in the field of psychology; Psychologists, Therapists, and Psychiatrists are required to inform patients of the objective of the research or treatment. Fees, limits of confidentiality, and the involvement of third parties are also to be discussed ("American Psychological Association", 2015). The "About.Education" (2015) website states that consent is only to be considered valid if the client is competent and the consent was given voluntarily. “Although the term ‘consent’ implies acceptance of a suggested treatment, the concept of consent applies also to the choice among alternative treatments and the refusal of...

References: About.Education. (2015). Retrieved from http://psychology.about.com/od/iindex/g/def_informedcon.htm
American Psychological Association. (2015). Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/index.aspx
Kagle, J., & Kopels, S. (1994). Confidentiality after Tarasoff. Health & Social Work, 19(3), 217-222.
Singer, P. A., & Viens, A. M. (2008). The Cambridge Textbook of Bioethics. West Nyack, NY: Cambridge University Press
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