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22 Apr 2006

ETHICS
In a scenario where a psycologist is assesing family members in a custody case, is it ethical for the psycologist to tell the different family members what the other's had to say? No permission was asked and the members on the receiving end of information have been traumatised to a certain extent with information they we given by the psycologist.
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Expert
CyberShrink
cybershrink

01 Jan 0001

No, it is not. Who was employing him ? If he was employed by the court, as can happen, then his findings should have been presented to the court, and in his report he might reveal some of whatever was said, where it was relevant. If employed for the lawyers for one or other party to the custody dispute, he would report to that lawyer, who might choose to discuss the details with his client, befopre it was presented to court. As his interviews were part of an assessment for a court case, he should have warned each of them that whatever they said could not be kept confidential because it could be quoted, in court, as part of his report. If he merely promoted gossip, telling each person what the others had said, that would be wrong. But it might be justifiable to do so as part of the assessment, for instance saying : Your husband has said that you drink very heavily when you're supposed to be caring for the child --- is that so ?"
There is a very significant difference between expectations of confidentiality when interviews are done within a clinical assessment, when the shrink owes confidentiality to his patient ; and when they are done for a court case, in which situation the contents of the interviews cannot be kept confidential, and the people should have been warned of this beforehand.
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