What if the patient threatened to destroy someone's house or car? This is combining the responsibilities of a mental health clinician to treat a client and help that client with this idea of protecting other people or protecting the public from the client. While some jurisdictions have ruled that threats to property are covered under Tarasoff laws, other jurisdictions have not. However, it's a double edged sword. Harvard Law Review, 90(2), 358. In 1976, the California Supreme Court ruled that psychotherapists have a duty to protect potential victims if their patients made threats or otherwise behaved as if they presented a "serious danger of violence to another." Monahan, J. A discussion of the implications of the Tarasoff vs Regents of the University of California case on confidentiality. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 11(1/2), 145–168. avoided what was to become the Tarasoff decision.". Come on! Duty to warn was introduced after the 1976 case Tarasoff v. Regents of University of California. Those two laws are the Tarasoff case itself (Tarasoff the Case), as decided by the California Supreme Court in 1976, and California Civil Code § 43.92 (Tarasoff the Statute), which was enacted by the California legislature in 1985. There have been later cases which have modified many of the conditions of the Tarasoff decision and therapists are usually urged to seek legal advice before breaching patient confidentiality due to the complicated legal picture involved. Granich, S. (2012). He served five years in prison until a lawyer successfully appealed the conviction. Since when does a temporary relationship supercede a human life? How I Controlled Communication With My Narcissistic Mother, Psychology Today © 2020 Sussex Publishers, LLC, 3 Simple Questions Screen for Common Personality Disorders, Research Suggests Coronavirus Causes a Storm in the Brain, What to Do About Vaccine Hesitancy During COVID-19, New Findings Reveal Benefits of Ketamine for Depression. In his case examples, Dr Martin refers to the Tarasoff duty as a duty to warn, and so let us take a moment to clarify this often misunderstood concept. What Really Goes on in the Mind of a Cheater? If I miscalculate and a person ends up harmed, whether that be the client or perpetuated by the client, then I could be involved in a wrongful death suit. 68-74. Though the state opted not to retry the case, Poddar was deported to India where he lives in relative anonymity (and has since married). It requires having access to information that many therapists might not have, i.e., criminal history or records from previous therapists. Prosenjit Poddar, a University of California graduate student, developed an infatuation with Tatiana Tarasoff, a woman he met at a dance class. Asked if he is going to kill her, he responds, “No, I just want her to bleed a bit.”. No therapist can totally predict if someone will become violent or not, they can definitely err on the side of caution and are always encouraged to do so. Despite the controversy over the circumstances for breaching confidentiality, Tarasoff laws have been adopted across many U.S. states and have guided similar legislation in countries around the world. Moral justification for Tarasoff-type warnings and breach of confidentiality: A clinician’s perspective. Guided by the court decision, the state of California later passed a law stating that all therapists have a duty to protect intended victims by either warning victims directly, notifying law enforcement directly, or taking whatever other steps to prevent harm might be needed. For an answer, we examine the now famous case of Tarasoff v. Regents of the University of California, a case the set forth the foundations of the physician duty to warn. He sought treatment from Lawrence Moore, a psychologist at Berkeley’s Cowell Memorial Hospital.In his seventh and final therapy session, Poddar tol… J.C. Beck (Ed. The duty to protect was established by Tarasoff v. ... which has been widely adopted by other states. Here in Ontario, where I practice, there is no formal Tarasoff law, but therapists are encouraged to "err on the side of life" in potentially life-threatening situations. If we can involuntarily commit a patient who has suicidal ideation with plans to kill themselves, why wouldn't we take a threat to human life seriously in any case? Whether or not the Tarasoff decision is justified, therapists in many jurisdictions are now required to follow it. I find it hard to believe that a mental health professional can have the confidence of his abilities but hide behind it not being an exact science. But is the Tarasoff decision needed to protect life? Downs, L. (2015). The patient says he is going to go home tonight and punch his wife in the jaw. I have just finished reading BAD KARMA which was authored by a fellow student at Berkeley at the same time. The first Tarasoff case imposed a duty to warn the victim, whereas the second Tarasoff case implies a duty to protect (Kopels & Kagle, 1993). If you are so convinced of your abilities in the field, ignore the Tarasoff warning and take your chances in court. While Bersoff does not suggest that potentially violent patients should be allowed to endanger the public, he does argue that breaching confidentiality should only be done as a last resort. To discharge the duty to protect, you must understand the differences between these two laws. Psychologists’ knowledge of their states’ laws pertaining to Tarasoff-type situations. I believe the anger has been misdirected in this case. The two briefly dated, but after Tarasoff rejected him in favor of other men, Poddar became extremely depressed and began stalking Tarasoff. Is the risk more or less than 50 percent? I agree that violating patient-client confidentiality does pose a threat to establishing future treatment options however where do we draw the line? Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 19(3), 375–385. Does a Tarasoff warning only apply when a patients threatens death or serious injury? The patient says he is going to go home tonight and just cut off the tip of her pinky (on the non-dominant hand). In 1969, Prosenjit Poddar was a college student at the University of California, Berkley. However, this case presented a very real threat, Poddar discussed methods to kill Tatiana. 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