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Legal Points of Professional Psychology

- Analyze the legal issues related to informed consent and refusal.
- Evaluate the legal issues associated with assessment, testing, and diagnosis in professional psychology.
- Explain the importance and challenges of maintaining confidentiality in the therapeutic relationship.
- Explain how professional competence plays such an important role in professional psychology.
- Evaluate how legislative acts and case law decisions have directly influenced the practice of professional psychology. Use specific examples of both in your discussion.

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Psychology and Law

Legal issues related to informed consent and refusal will be discussed first. Legal issues associated with assessment, testing, and diagnosis in professional psychology will be evaluated second. The importance of maintaining confidentiality in therapeutic relationships will be explained third. The influence of legislation on professional psychology will be evaluated fourth. The role of competence in professional psychology will be explained last.

- The legal issues related to informed consent and refusal

[Informed consent is a legal requirement applicable to all medical care. Physicians who provide services to patients are compelled, ethically and morally, to allow patients to make their own health care decisions based upon all material information available. The concept is derived from the ideal that each patient has a right to determine what is done to his or her body] (Liang, 2003, p. 1).

According to Pope and Vasquez there are many laws, usually state based, which pertain to informed consent (2007). The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) of 1996 is a federal law that protects the confidentiality of one's medical records and is usually covered during the informed consent process. The oldest known medical standard, which dates back to the Greek's Hippocratic Oath in which physicians have more of an authoritarian (rather than a collaborative) approach to medical care, does not include any laws related to informed consent. The Nuremberg Declaration after World War II (WWII) helped establish the first laws in regard to informed consent and put control of this into the hands of the patient. It "revealed horrific and inhumane practices of many health care professionals during WWII under the guise of 'treatment' and 'research'" (Pope & Vasquez, 2007, p. 137).

According to Liang, a patient must knowingly and voluntarily provide informed consent, thus the professional is expected to provide all the relevant information about the procedures to be performed in ways that the client can understand or decide to refuse at his or her will (2003). The patient has autonomy and control of over his or her own body and any decisions related to it and informed consent should be a collaborative venture between therapist and client that seeks to best resolve that client's issues. There exist two general standards related to this, and one is that the professional must provide all the relevant information that a professional in good standing within similar circumstances would provide. Second, the information discussed should include all the information that a reasonable person would desire. The most important factors to disclose include: "(1) diagnosis; (2) nature of proposed treatment or diagnostic strategy; (and 3) consequences of declining or refusing treatment" (Liang, 2003, p. 1).

Legal exceptions to informed consent exist as well according to Liang (2003). For one, a medical professional is not required to disclose every possible risk. Second, they are not required to disclose risks which are obvious or that the professional could not foresee. Last, there are limits to confidentiality in the laws related to informed consent (e.g. when they may be harmful to themselves or others or for insurance purposes).

- The legal issues associated ...

Solution Summary

The legal points of professional psychology is examined. The expert evaluates how legislative acts and case law decisions have directly influenced the practice of professional psychology.

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