Legal Aspects of Professional Psychology
May 06, 2013
There are many factors that can affect a professional in the field of psychology. Some of these factors may be ethical issues and some may have legal issues. These two issues may seem similar. However, they are very different. American Psychological Association (APA) Ethics Code can help clear up any problems with ethical issues. The legal issues are not as easy to see or find the correct answers. Legal issues can be separated into two categories, legislation and litigation. Legislation concerns governmental bodies passing laws. Litigation is laws that are formed by the rule of the law. There are legal issues related ...view middle of the document...
The standard of care in psychotherapy, psychological assessment and mental health research requires that clients be informed so that they fully understand the nature of the proposed interventions or procedures. Informed consent not only protects the client but also protects the clinician. By obtaining informed consent, the clinician possesses proof of the consent. By obtaining informed consent in writing, the clinician possesses even clearer proof of the consent. Unless a client can provide proof that he or she was misinformed or was not competent to provide consent, the signed document can minimize risk for the clinician should the matter end up in court. In such proceedings, a written consent will usually legally override later denial of informed consent by a client. However, written consent is neither always possible nor always clinically advised. Consent is most often used prior to beginning of therapy, counseling or psychological assessment. It is also used to authorize psychotherapists to release or reveal confidential information about the patients whom they are treating or have treated. Keeping proper records can help a psychologist who finds him or herself in legal issues regarding informed consent and refusal. If a patient refuses treatment, and something happens to the patient, the norm in society today is to sue. If records are accurate and up to date, there is a better chance of avoiding a legal issue.
Assessment, Testing, and Diagnosis
A psychological assessment is the attempt of a skilled professional, usually a psychologist, to use the techniques and tools of psychology to learn either general or specific facts about another person, either to inform others of how they function now, or to predict their behavior and functioning in the future. This is done through testing. The point of assessment is often to diagnose or classify a person and his or her behavior. Legal issues that accompany assessment, testing, and diagnosis are right to privacy, confidentiality, results, and other rights legally bound by the Constitution of the United States. A patent’s legal right to privacy allows the patient to have privacy with his or her medical records. This does include psychiatric history. There are some parties who would like to know information, like psychiatric evaluations, suicide attempts, mental disabilities, drug or alcohol use, and past medical problems. These parties do not have the patient’s best interest if they were to get this information. “The U.S. Department of Health and Human Service issued the Privacy Rule to implement the requirement of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). The Privacy Rule standards address the use and disclosure of individuals’ health information—called “protected health information” by organizations subject to the Privacy Rule — called “covered entities,” as well as standards for individuals' privacy rights to understand and control how their health information is...