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Legal Aspects

In: Psychology

Submitted By mxjoe
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The legal aspects of professional psychology covers a large area; such as assessments, HIPPA, confidentiality, testing, written consent, competence, and diagnosing. It is a large part of the psychology that most struggle with just to make sure that they do not break any laws and at the same time, giving the right treatment to every patient. The clinicians and patients have guidelines set forth according to the American Psychological Association (APA) that protects both parties from unethical and legal decisions. In this paper, the importance of informed consent and refusal, the legal issues within assessments, testing, and diagnosis, confidentiality in the therapeutic relationship, the impact of legislation and the role of competence in professional psychology will be discussed in detail.
Legal Issues Related to Informed Consent and Refusal The informed consent is the agreement between two parties to work collaboratively (Pope & Vasquez, 2007). In psychology, the client signs the consent form to allow treatment from the psychologist who may include testing, treatment, and initial psychological assessment. The patients have the right to their information; in terms of benefits, alternative treatments and about the risks. If the patient does not understand what he or she is giving permission to, he or she can allow an authorized decision-maker. The law requires that all persons take reasonable steps to clarify and communicate adequately with their patients about their risks and benefits. The informed consent is basically the understanding and justification of power that should not be abused intentionally or accidentally (Pope & Vasquez, 2007).
The informed refusal is when a patient is refusing care; because of legal issues, trust, infectious diseases, clinical competent, and people who may refuse treatment for others because of age and the health risk. According to Pope and Vasquez (2007), in cases which a patient refuses treatment and there is a health risk or a minor involved, physicians or clinicians will consult a lawyer, judge or an expert in ethics. The patient must also understand the result of not obtaining the right assessment or treatment. On the other hand, “respecting the patient’s right of self-determination on particular therapy demands a standard set by law for physicians rather than one which physicians may or may not impose upon themselves” (Canterbury v. Spence, 1972, pp. 783-784).
Legal Issues Associated with Assessment, Testing, and Diagnosis When it concerns assessments, testing, and diagnosing; the results may have a huge impact on the client’s life. Many times, the misuse of assessments comes from incompetent clinicians or practitioners; this causes misinterpreted results in a careless manner. A psychologist will face many challenges in terms of; ethical evaluations, accurate results, and using the latest advances in research, and competencies. A professional psychology has to maintain, understand, and have the competence to translate the measurement, validation, and the theory for the research to an ethics committee, if required. To avoid future legal issues, ensure that a client does understand the reason, purpose, and tools that are part of the assessment, treatment and diagnosis. The client may understand the process but may not be familiar with the technical terms; therefore, it is the responsibility of the clinician to provide the explanation to his or her patient. After obtaining the results of a test or an assessment, the client must be adequately informed and consent to who will or may receive the results, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and other legislation (Pope, Vasquez, 2007).
The Importance of Maintaining Confidentiality in the Therapeutic Relationship
Confidentiality is about privacy between both parties and not sharing any details. In the therapeutic sessions, confidentiality pertains to all treatment information of that individual. The trust between the client and therapist will assure nothing will be shared with others without his or her permission. It is important in the aspect of the therapeutic relationship because it involves personal information that may include the client's issues, discussions, insurance claims, and data information from tests. It is related to the APA Ethics Code as part of the principles that guide therapists or any professionals to avoid unethical acts. According to the APA (2002), "psychologists have a primary obligation and take reasonable precautions to protect confidential information obtained through or stored in any medium, recognizing that the extent and limits of confidentiality may be regulated by law or established by institutional rules or professional or scientific relationship" The therapist cannot share any type of information with the person who referred his or her client, friend, family, and coworkers. Confidentiality is trusting that others will not discuss any personal information and that goes to he or she in a profession level.
The Impact of Legislation on Professional Psychology In the Jaffee vs. Redmond case, a licensed clinical social worker and her

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