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Mental Health Counselling and Confidentiality

Over the years, you have developed a specialization in working with clients who have sexual issues or who are experiencing sexual problems in their relationships. You recently attended a conference on this topic and found that many therapists have developed Internet counseling practices for clients with sexual issues, since many persons with sexual problems may feel too embarrassed to speak with a counselor.

You decide to offer online counseling and set up a website advertising this service. You receive several inquiries, including a series of emails from a 35-year-old man who says he is struggling with his attraction to young teen-age girls. He claims he has never acted on these feelings and is too ashamed to see a therapist in person. He very much wants your help.

Review the case vignettes presented in the Ethical Issues in Record Keeping and Technology interactive piece you viewed in this unit's study. Select one vignette and use it to discuss the following:
1. Identify the possible legal and ethical issues in this situation and identify the relevant legal and ethical codes that would address these issues.
2. Develop a plan of action to address this situation.
Include specific examples to illustrate your ideas, and support your discussion with references to the professional literature. Respond to the posts of two other learners.

Solution Preview

Hi, and thank you for choosing Brain Mass. First and foremost is the Tarasoff Law with the duty to warn disclosure-this is something that needs to be disclosed as a disclaimer for all teletherapy or telecounseling type practices. The bottom line is this, if a person calls in for any respective counseling, the disclaimer goes as such:

"The services you are receiving today are confidential and generally what you say to be will be kept confidential; however, there are exceptions to this in that I must emphasize to you if you report to me that you are suicidal with a plan, intent, and means to harm yourself, homicidal with a plan and means to harm yourself, that there is child abuse occurring, or that you plan to commit child abuse, or that that is abuse of an adult who cannot advocate for him/herself, then, I must report that information. I am a mandated reporter and if I determine that there is child abuse going on I will report that to the proper authorities."

Failure to report any of the above can result in legal and ethical issues for the therapist in that if the therapist has knowledge that the patient is planning to commit a murder with intent and the therapist failed to notify the authorities, ...

Solution Summary

This solution discusses mental health counselling with regard to legality and ethics.