Legal Issues in Clinical Psychology

Legal Issues in Clinical Psychology

Privacy and Confidentiality

A psychologist is under legal obligation to uphold top most confidentiality of any information obtained by him from the client or through diagnosis of such client in the course of his treatment (Harrower, 2011). Moreover, the professionals are under legal requirement to protect any record generated during psychological undertakings in a safe and secure place where any unauthorized persons cannot access them (Linton, 2015). Privacy build trust and an interactive practitioner-client relationship.

Informed Consent and Refusal

Kaufman (2015) claims that it is a legal requirement that prior to initiating counseling and treatment clients by psychologists; they must be authorized to do so. In the event the patient is under-aged or of unsound mind, the parent or guardian is required to issue an authorization. A psychologist is also entitled to communicate any relevant information of treatment to the patient so that the ailing can comprehend their conditions and make a decision on whether to be treated or not. An example of a legal but unethical scenario is where a judge may order a practitioner to disclose information about a particular client without his consent.

Ethical Issues in Clinical Psychology

Professional Competence

It is important that a psychologist understands and acknowledges their strengths and limitations and endeavors to learn and improve on their weaknesses. Before a psychologist embarks on counseling or treatment their clients the professional must have proper training and experience to resolve the issues and understand when it is necessary to refer the patient to a more competent professional (Linton, 2005).

Professional Ability Not Being Prejudiced and Biased

A psychologist must treat all clients equally and must refrain from negative attitude that may impair his objectivity in performing counseling and treatment (Kaufman, 2015). They must not discriminate patients’ based on political class, gender, race and religion differences. Moreover, the professionals must avoid negative convictions and treat all patients competently.

A group of psychologists in a given community may agree to lower and charge the same prices of their clinical services and products so that they can be favorable and affordable to all people across economic class.

Professional Boundary, Boundary Crossing, Boundary Violations and Effect of Boundaries on Therapeutic Relationships

Professional boundary refers to an integral distance that limits practitioner-client relationship with a sole purpose of ensuring that the psychologist fully concentrates with the therapy (Kaufman, 2015). Professional Crossing can be defined as a slight deviation towards professional boundary that is supportive to the treatment (Harrower, 2011). For instance, the practitioner may favor a client at the expense of another. Boundary violation refers to an action where psychologists cross the edge defined by professional boundary to benefit themselves at the expense of the patient (Linton, 2005). For example, the doctor may get attracted and engage in sexual relationship with the client.

The professional boundaries enable practitioner-client interaction and relationship to be effective in regards to the counseling and treatment of the patient.

Cultural Limitations Associated with Assessment and Treatment

Client’s Cultural Background

A psychologist must understand the norms and values of his client cultural background before initiating counseling and treatment. This will enable them to provide a treatment that conforms to patient values (Harrower, 2011). In addition, individual tests and assessments should be distinct because language and beliefs differs from one culture to another hence difficult to generalize test.

Minority and Majority Group

A psychologist must design different approaches for minority and majority groups as they respond differently to test and assessment. Therefore the practitioner must develop a specific plan for each group that is culturally appropriate and respectable to enable them penetrate and perform the test to the client and receive a real response that will provide appropriate counseling and treatment (Harrower, 2011).


Harrower, M. (2011). The practice of clinical psychology. Springfield, IL: Thomas.

Kaufman, J. C. (2015). Intelligent Testing: Integrating Psychological Theory and Clinical Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Linton, S. (2005). Understanding pain for better clinical practice: A psychological perspective. Edinburgh: Elsevier.

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