Ethical Vs. Legal Mental Health Dilema

713 Words3 Pages
According to Morrison-Valfre’s Foundations of Mental Health Care, the definition of ethics is “A set of rules or values that govern right behavior. Ethics reflect values, morals and principles of right and wrong.” Also, according to Morrison-Valfre’s Foundations of Mental Health Care, the definition of laws is “The controls by which a society governs itself. They are derived from rules, regulations, and moral and ethical principles. Laws apply to every member of society.” What happens when these two very important guidelines clash? A patient’s “privilege”, the definition by law, is the right to refuse to divulge information obtained in a confidential relationship. A situation in which a conflict may occur between the legal system and ethics would be a person who is put on trial to be convicted of murder and the state prosecutor wishes to subpoena the defendant’s therapist along with the documentation made during sessions. A group of people may agree that it is in fact appropriate to override privilege in this particular situation because the primary purpose of a trial is to search for the truth so that the law may be applied accurately. They may also believe that the value of truth outweighs the value of privacy in a situation such as this. On the other hand, others believe that the client’s privilege should be respected because they believe that therapy can help people to lead more peaceful and happier lives and that those who needed the help would not be willing to seek it if they weren’t under the impression that everything that was shared during their sessions would remain confidential. Also, during therapy embarrassing and shameful personal experiences may be shared and if presented in court, it becomes public record that anyone has access to which may embarrass the client. We must ask ourselves which takes precedence when they clash. The consequences vary
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