Legal Aspects in Professional Psychologyadmin / January 18, 2019
Psychology is a developed field of study which can be applied in broad fields which include educational, clinical, sports, business, and health areas.
Psychologists, just like other professionals, undergo intensive education and training before they are allowed to practice (Nancy, 2007). Professional psychologists are equipped with scientific foundations that prepare them to offer high quality services and use their practical skills effectively.
The skills include, but not limited to, psychological examination, clinical supervision, consultation, as well as psychotherapy. Owing to the broadness of this field, there are a number of legal aspects which should be considered in the practice of professional psychology.
The code of ethics clearly provide for the general principles expected in the practice of virtually all professional fields such as medicine, law, and dentistry. The essay elaborates the legal issues related to knowledgeable approval and refusal of medical care as well as evaluating the legal issues associated evaluation and diagnosis in the field of professional psychology.
It also offers the explanation of the need to enhance confidentiality in the therapeutic relationship between the patient and the psychologist. Moreover, the essay offers an evaluation of the impact of government legislation and the role of competence in professional psychology.
The legal aspects in the field of professional psychology apply to all instances where psychological ethics are to be exercised. Professional psychologists are expected to understand the legal issues and concerns that may be raised especially by their clients. Apart from the practical concerns, the legal aspects of psychology cover broad areas such as understanding the role of government laws and the regulations associated with human behavior as well as the various mental processes (Nancy, 2007).
The practice of professional psychology should not violate any of the legal provisions stipulated in the professional code of conduct and ethics.
The codes of ethics are generally uniform in all the states although licensing may be done by individual states. The handling of clients by psychologists is one of the most sensitive areas which should abide by the legal requirements. Professional psychologists are expected to ensure that they get informed consent from their clients.
This implies that the client has to agree with terms and conditions of medical treatment or any assessment/testing (Nancy, 2007). Such consent must be well informed, competent and voluntary in nature. In case the client is not in a position to give consent, then a recognized health attorney or next of kin may be allowed to stand in for the patient.
The doctor must inform the client of the possible risks as well as benefits associated with the intended treatment process (Berger, 2002). Additionally, the client should be given the alternative ways of treatment in order to make appropriate personal choices. Another legal doctrine under informed consent is self-determination.
It refers to the right of an adult client who is of sound mind to decide what can be done on their body in the course of treatment (Nancy, 2007). The psychologist is expected to communicate sufficient information to the client in order to facilitate the consent process. At the end of the consent process, the client should sign appropriate documents before the commencement of any medical care.
The right to informed refusal is another legal requirement in the practice of professional psychology. This provision empowers the client to refuse any given medical care regardless of how crucially important it is meant to save his or her life (Berger, 2002). For example, a patient suffering from kidney failure may decline a transplant despite knowing that refusal may result in death.
Furthermore, a client suffering from serious heart attack may opt to depart the hospital even though they are likely to die (Nancy, 2007). A client may refuse treatment due to several reasons such as depression, lack of trust, fear, and misunderstanding. A psychologist may make further attempts to convince the client if he or she thinks the decision to refuse treatment is incompetent.
Importance of confidentiality
The legal provisions are also geared towards ensuring confidentiality between clients and their psychologists. The professional code of conduct and ethics protects clients from any form of abuse especially emotional and or physical.
Recommended practices by professional psychologists are guaranteed. They include the maintenance of medical files, and appropriate ways for terminating a given therapy process. A psychologist is not expected to share any of the client’s crucial medical information in public (Berger, 2002).
This goes a long way in enhancing the trust between the client and the doctor. If the patient develops confidence towards the therapist, then the treatment process is bound to be successful.
In a situation where confidentiality is breached, the client may initiate legal action against the therapy provider (Berger, 2002). In general, confidentiality in the practice of professional psychology ensures that clients receive professional as well as humane handling that protects them from any form of abuse.
Impact of legislation
The government in the United States plays a central role when it comes to the practice of professional psychology. Some legislations passed from time to time by the federal government influence this filed directly (Nancy, 2007).
Decisions which affect the financing and practice in the healthcare profession, particularly psychological services are made regularly. The state of healthcare policy in the United States has a lot of impacts on the training of psychologists.
All professional psychologists in America are regulated by the American Psychological Association (APA) (Berger, 2002). The legislations provide the required academic achievements in order to be recognized as a professional psychologist. Clinical and counseling psychologists are the most common and are responsible for providing psychotherapeutic services and other psychological examinations.
Government legislations, however, may vary from state to state but they are all designed to safeguard the clients and the credibility of the profession (Berger, 2002). The legislations in some states have allowed psychologists with appropriate additional qualifications to provide psychiatric medicine. Efforts by other states to pass the same legislation have been unsuccessful.
APA has been very influential in pushing for appropriate legislations by the government. Emerging issues in the field of professional psychology have resulted in key legislations that are aimed at enhancing the quality of services offered to the clients as well as improving the welfare of the psychologists (Berger, 2002).
Role of competence
All professional psychologists are legally expected to provide excellent services for their respective clients. Professional psychologists should therefore demonstrate outstanding competence in their responsibilities. Competence can be defined as the ability to effectively perform specific tasks within a given field. Psychologists are trained to perform specialized tasks using the acquired skills (Berger, 2002).
Psychologists are ethically expected to provide services that are within their areas of competence. They should take clients who have problems which they can competently offer solutions. Competence, therefore, ensures that psychologists utilize their acquired knowledge, skills, and appropriate behavior in handling their clients.
The essay has discussed the various concerns related to knowledgeable approval and the right to denial of treatment and concerns touching on evaluation and determination in the field of professional psychological. It has also given the details of upholding confidentiality in the therapeutic relationships between the client and the doctor.
Furthermore, the essay has offered an evaluation of the impact of government legislations as well as the role of competence in professional psychology. The various legal aspects in professional psychology, therefore, play a major role in regulating the general provision of services by psychologists.
Berger, L. S. (2002). Understanding professional psychology: government regulation and competence. Trafford Plc.
Nancy, M. (2007). Professional psychology: a psychologist’s comprehensive guide (2nd ed.). McGraw Hill Plc.