Psychologists' perceptions of legal and ethical requirements for breaching confidentiality
This paper outlines the legal and ethical duties of psychologists in relation to preserving as well as breaching confidentiality in therapeutic relationships. It analyses the results of a questionnaire examining psychologists' perceptions of the legal and ethical constraints on confidentiality and their likelihood of breaching confidentiality in different situations. The vast majority of participants indicated that the law permits them to disclose confidential information and that there is an ethical duty to disclose information to a third party when the patient is perceived to be dangerous. The results suggest that there is some uncertainty as to when confidentiality should be breached in practice and it is argued that the law is overly complex in this area and that guidelines are needed to assist psychologists in their clinical practice.
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