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Ethics Question

Question:

Actually it’s not a psy. problem, it’s just a question about psy doctor. I would like to know if there’s any written rules/ laws for the psy doctor to keep the secret of the client’s case and is there any rules/ laws for the psy doctor to keep a distance from the client in their social lives? Thx for replying me

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Answer:

In the United States, a licensed psychologist generally is granted legally privileged communication with his/her patient. This means that what is said within the context of the doctor/patient relationship is confidential and private. The doctor will be breaking both state law and professional ethics by discussing the patient’s case outside of the doctor-patient context unless he or she has written permission to do so from the patient. There are (of course) exceptions to this confidentiality: – a psychologist generally MUST break confidentiality and discuss details of a patient’s case with authorities when the patient is judged (by the psychologist) to be suicidal, homicidal, or perpetrating abuse on a minor (or in some cases on an elder/senior). A court may also require the psychologist to discuss a patient’s case by subpoenaing the case records. It is considered good practice for the psychologist to bring up these limits to confidentiality during or prior to the first session with a patient. Regarding socialization between doctors and patients – It is generally a bad idea and the ethical principles for psychologists discourage this sort of behavior. This is because socializing with your doctor creates what is known as a dual-relationship. In a dual relationship your doctor (who has a sort of power over you) is also now your friend (where things are supposed to be equal). The only way to avoid this sort of complication is to avoid seeing your doctor outside the context of therapy. Both state law (in many state) and ethical principles PROHIBIT a psychologist from having a sexual relationship with a patient during active psychotherapy and for several years afterwards for the same dual-relationship reasons mentioned above.

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