pageside
Zur Institute, INNOVATIVE RESOURCES and ONLINE CONTINUING EDUCATION
Sign In
.
pageside
HR
Pageside

CSS Submit Button Rollover Css3Menu.com

Pageside
Pageside

 

Forensic Dual or Multiple Relationships:
Treating Clinician vs. Forensic Expert

By Ofer Zur, Ph.D.
 

This web page is part of our online course, Dual Relationships: The Ethical Way
 

Table Of Contents

General Online Articles on Expert vs. Clinician
    Alternative View
Ethics Codes and Specialty Guidelines Regarding Forensic Services
Articles on Dual Role in Custody Cases
Additional Article on Multiple Roles in Forensic Settings
    Alternative View
Subsequent Therapist Syndrome (STS)

 

Forensic and therapeutic roles are generally considered incompatible. The psychotherapist's or counselor's role is that of a patient advocate, which often presents irreconcilable conflict with the more objective-evaluative role of a forensic expert. Psychotherapists are generally biased in favor of their clients while forensic experts are committed to a truthful, objective and unbiased reporting to the court. The forensic-therapist dual relationships often present conflict of interests and, as a result, are often unethical and should be avoided under most circumstances. As with all multiple relationships, the context of therapy ultimately determines the appropriateness of the dual role. In certain correctional and forensic settings, clinicians or treating psychologists are expected and/or mandated to serve also as court appointed evaluators and testify in court as experts. For further resources and guidelines on dual relationships and boundaries in psychotherapy and counseling, click here.
 

General Online Articles on Expert vs. Clinician

Top of Page
 

Alternative View on Expert vs. Clinician

Ethics Codes and Specialty Guidelines Regarding Forensic Services

  • American Psychological Association - APA. (2010). Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct
    http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/principles.pdf
  • American Psychology-Law Society, Division 41 of the American Psychological Association (APA), Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychology
    • Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychology (2012).
      http://www.apa.org/practice/guidelines/forensic-psychology.pdf
      • Guideline 4.02.01: Therapeutic-Forensic Role Conflicts
        Providing forensic and therapeutic psychological services to the same individual or closely related individuals involves multiple relationships that may impair objectivity and/or cause exploitation or other harm. Therefore, when requested or ordered to provide either concurrent or se-quential forensic and therapeutic services, forensic practitioners are encouraged to disclose the potential risk and make reasonable efforts to refer the request to another qualified provider. If referral is not possible, the forensic practitioner is encouraged to consider the risks and benefits to all parties and to the legal system or entity likely to be impacted, the possibility of separating each service widely in time, seeking judicial review and direction, and consulting with knowledgeable colleagues. When providing both forensic and therapeutic services, forensic practitioners seek to minimize the potential negative effects of this circumstance (EPPCC Standard 3.05).

  • American Academy Of Psychiatry And The Law (AAPL) Ethics Guidelines For The Practice Of Forensic Psychiatry: Section IV. Honesty and Striving for Objectivity, parag. 7:
    http://www.aapl.org/ethics.htm
    • Psychiatrists who take on a forensic role for patients they are treating may adversely affect the therapeutic relationship with them. Forensic evaluations usually require interviewing corroborative sources, exposing information to public scrutiny, or subjecting evaluees and the treatment itself to potentially damaging cross-examination. The forensic evaluation and the credibility of the practitioner may also be undermined by conflicts inherent in the differing clinical and forensic roles. Treating psychiatrists should therefore generally avoid acting as an expert witness for their patients or performing evaluations of their patients for legal purposes.

      Treating psychiatrists appearing as "fact" witnesses should be sensitive to the unnecessary disclosure of private information or the possible misinterpretation of testimony as "expert" opinion. In situations when the dual role is required or unavoidable (such as Workers' Compensation, disability evaluations, civil commitment, or guardianship hearings), sensitivity to differences between clinical and legal obligations remains important.

      When requirements of geography or related constraints dictate the conduct of a forensic evaluation by the treating psychiatrist, the dual role may also be unavoidable; otherwise, referral to another evaluator is preferable.

Top of Page
 

Articles on Dual Role in Custody Cases

  • American Psychological Association (APA) (2009). Guidelines for Child Custody Evaluations in Family Law Proceedings. Washington, D.C: Author.
    http://www.apa.org/practice/guidelines/child-custody.pdf
    The guidelines specifically address the multiple relationships matter in custody issues.
    7. Psychologists strive to avoid conflicts of interest and multiple relationships in conducting evaluations.
    Rationale.The inherent complexity, potential for harm, and adversarial context of child custody evaluations make the avoidance of conflicts of interest particularly important. The presence of such conflicts will undermine the court's confidence in psychologists' opinions and recommendations, and in some jurisdictions may result in professional board discipline and legal liability.
    Application. Psychologists refrain from taking on a professional role, such as that of a child custody evaluator, when personal, scientific, professional, legal, financial, or other interests or relationships could reasonably be expected to result in (1) impaired impartiality, competence, or effectiveness; or (2) exposure of the person or organization with whom the professional relationships exists to harm or exploitation (Ethics Code 3.06). Subject to the same analysis are multiple relationships, which occur when psychologists in a professional role with a person are simultaneously in another role with that person, when psychologists are in a relationship with another individual closely associated with or related to that person, or when psychologists promise to enter into another future relationship with that person or with another individual closely associated with or related to that person (Ethics Code 3.05). Psychologists conducting a child custody evaluation with their current or prior psychotherapy clients, and psychologists conducting psychotherapy with their current or prior child custody examinees, are both examples of multiple relationships. Psychologists' ethical obligations regarding conflicts of interest and multiple relationships provide an explainable and understandable basis for declining court appointments and private referrals.
  • Berson, J. S. Dual Relationships for the Psychologist when custody is an Issue:
    http://www.apadivisions.org/division-31/publications/articles/new-jersey/berson.pdf

Top of Page
 

Additional Article on Multiple Roles in Forensic Settings

Alternative View on Multiple Roles in Forensic Settings

Subsequent Therapist Syndrome (STS)

Top of Page

Pageside
Pageside

 


Share This:

Follow Us On:     TwitterFacebookLinkedInGoogle Plus

Click here to receive clinical updates by e-mail.

Online Courses  -  Zur Institute on YouTubeYouTube
Live Workshops  -  Forensic & Expert Witness Services -  Consultations for Therapists
Private Practice Handbook  -  HIPAA Compliance Kit  -  Clinical Forms  -  CE Info  -  Discussions
Online Catalog -  Free Articles  -  Boundaries & Dual Relationships  -  General Public Resources  -  Seminars For General Public
Organizational Discounts  -  About Us  -  FAQ  -  Privacy, Disclaimer, Terms of Use, DMCA  -  ADA Policy & Grievance -  CV
Home -  Contact Us  -  Site Map


ZUR INSTITUTE, LLC
Ofer Zur, Ph.D., Director

Sonoma Medical Plaza, 181 Andrieux St. Suite 212, Sonoma, CA 95476
Phone: 707-935-0655, Fax: 707-736-7045, Email: info@zurinstitute.com

© 1997-2014 Ofer Zur, Ph.D., LLC. All rights reserved. Privacy Statement, Disclaimer & Terms of Use.
Site design/maintenance by R&D Web

Pageside