- Center for Ethical Practice - https://centerforethicalpractice.org -

Facing Up To Ethical-Legal Conflicts

Respected ethicists suggest that clinicians should consider all the options when faced with a legal requirement that conflicts with their ethical standards.  Do we recognize the ethical-legal conflicts when they arise, or do we fail to face them for what they are?  If an ethical-legal conflict can’t be resolved, how do your personal ethical values fit into the picture? If you must choose, should you follow your ethical standards or obey the law?  What happens if you choose to disobey the law?

[This workshop is based in part on the ethical considerations and decision-making process provided by Knapp, Gottlieb, Berman, & Handelsman, (2007), in their article, “When Laws and Ethics Collide,” Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 38 (1), 54-59.]

 OUTLINE

I. Relationship Between Ethics Codes & State Laws

II. Decision Making When Ethics & Laws Collide

A.. What does the law require?

B. What are your ethical obligations?

1. Will the standards in your Ethics Code inform you of your obligations?

2. If not, how can you use your personal values to frame your response?

C. How can you reconcile the demands of the law and your clinical concerns?

D. Should you follow the law or your ethical values?

E. How do you balance legal obligations with consequences to patient or other interested parties?

F. Can you anticipate future law-ethics conflicts and take preventive measures?

III. Advance Considerations For Ethical-Legal Decision Making

A. Do you need more ethical or legal Information? Where will you find it?

B. Do you need consultation? From whom?

C. Do you need to explore your underlying values? Who can help?

D. Is there a way to meet both your ethical obligations and legal obligations?

E. If you follow the law, how can you minimize infringement of the ethical values?

E. If ethical values are followed, how can you minimize infringement of the law?

F. If you don’t obey the law, what are potential consequences of civil disobedience?

G. Can you anticipate future ethical nuances and legal complications?

H. Will emphasizing informed consent help reduce future law-ethics conflicts?

IV. Predictable Ethical Complications Raised by Virginia’s Laws

A. Informed Consent –Difficulty Explaining Potential Limits of Confidentiality

B. Confidentiality – Unpredictability About Legally-Imposed Disclosures

C. Minors – Confusion About Consent v. “Assent” (for Treatment, Disclosure)

D. Custody Cases – Will Repeal of § 20-124.3:1 Create More Subpoenas?

E. Dual Relationships – Laws Requiring Therapists to Take Court-Related Roles

*This workshop will be based in part on the ethical considerations and decision-making process provided by Knapp, Gottlieb, Berman, & Handelsman, (2007), in their article, “When Laws and Ethics Collide,” Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 38 (1), 54-59.

Educational Goals:
1. Describe the relationship between Ethics Codes and laws.
2. List some of the Virginia laws that can create ethical/legal conflicts in clinical practice.
3. Describe options when facing legal demands, and know their ethical & legal implications
4. Develop ways of practicing planfully in order to reduce ethical dilemmas raised by laws.