Forensic Psychology Duty to Report vs. Confidentiality The obligation to protect the society needs to become prioritized over ethics of confidentiality, particularly when the patient is known to have committed crimes during the course of therapy. According to Weiner and Otto (2012) the privilege gives a patient the right to prevent a psychologist from disclosing any information collected during the patient-doctor sessions. In legal terms the privilege belongs to the patient who has the right to take necessary steps to waive it or affirm it. However, it is important to note that the privilege is not applicable when the patient is using the sessions or information from the sessions to further his or her missions for ongoing or future fraud (Weiner &. Otto, 2012). When it comes to discussions of fraud committed in the past, there is a privilege, but not during an ongoing session.
The breach of a client’s confidentiality may arise in different instances when there is a crime committed. When crime committed involves harm to the patient or to others, the psychologists has the right to breach confidentiality depending on the state’s laws. The degree to which the psychologist may breach such confidentiality is dependent on jurisdiction of a state, but in most cases it is mandatory (ODonohue &. Levensky, 2004). For example, when the client is a minor, or not capable of knowing whether he or she is harming oneself the psychologist has to breach the patient’s confidentiality after obtaining an adult’s consent. Hence, the obligation to protect the society comes first over ethics of confidentiality when the patient commits a fraud during the course of the sessions.
When the patient commits the crime during the course of therapy it does not mean that the therapy provided by the psychologist has not afforded protection to the society. It is only when the psychologists does not disclose the information regarding a patient committing crime during an ongoing course of therapy that the society’s protection becomes waivered. In page 4 of ODonohue and Levensky’s book the author’s argue that information stored under a confidentially may mostly benefit the patient and the family, but legally, it tends is irrelevant. Most lawyers and judges operate under the fixed rule of evidence where most do not know anything related to the information given during patient-psychologist sessions. Most of the judges and lawyers may not care about the ethical guidelines, but only if the information is useful in a trial when the patient commits fraud. Therefore, much of what people used to see in the 2007 crime-drama series known as “The Sopranos” would not fall under the category of privileged patient-doctor sessions.
Though confidentiality laws serve to protect the families, friends of the patients, the exemptions pointed out serve as a way of also protecting the community members at large. The private information of the patient is always protected to avoid scenarios where the patient, family members or friends face social stigma and discrimination at work or in another state (ODonohue &. Levensky, 2004). The reason that allows patients’ protection by the law under “privilege” is because they sought treatment. The psychologist is also protected from the danger which may arise when other people learn that a psychologist possesses the information which they may use against their enemies or for intimidation.
ODonohue, W., &. Levensky, E. (2004). Handbook of forensic psychology: Resource for mental health and legal professionals. Waltham, MA: Academic Press.
Weiner, I., &. Otto, R. (2012). Handbook of psychology, forensic psychology. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley &. Sons.