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Applied Ethics in Mental Health CareAn Interdisciplinary Reader$
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Dominic A. Sisti, Arthur L. Caplan, and Hila Rimon-Greenspan

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780262019682

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262019682.001.0001

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Ethical Considerations of Multiple Roles in Forensic Services

Ethical Considerations of Multiple Roles in Forensic Services

(p.255) 18 Ethical Considerations of Multiple Roles in Forensic Services
Applied Ethics in Mental Health Care

Robert Henley Woody

The MIT Press

Attorneys increasingly rely on the services of mental health practitioners. Although some practitioners lack training, the promise of professional rewards lead some to accept opportunities with resulting ethical quandaries. Due to significant differences between the objectives of traditional mental health services and expert testimony, problems occur when clinicians venture into forensic services. Attorneys and judges, unfamiliar with mental health specialties, may seek to press a mental health practitioner into multiple roles. Although not all multiple roles are ethically inappropriate, caution demands careful parsing of particular roles: (a) academic/behavioral science expert; (b) fact witness as a treating therapist; (c) expert witness based on a clinically oriented assessment; (d) pretrial and/or trial consultant; and (e) professional critic of other experts. Possible ethical issues and risks associated with accepting multiple roles are identified and strategies for avoiding or minimizing harm or exploitation are discussed.

Keywords:   Forensic psychiatry, Ethics, Law, Mental health policy

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