Get Alert
Please Wait... Processing your request... Please Wait.
You must sign in to sign-up for alerts.

Please confirm that your email address is correct, so you can successfully receive this alert.

Article   |    
Application of the Tarasoff ruling and its effect on the victim and the therapeutic relationship
Psychiatric Services 1996; doi:
text A A A
PDF of the full text article.

OBJECTIVE: The Tarasoff case and subsequent court decisions and legislation in many jurisdictions established a duty to protect the intended victims of patients who pose a serious threat of violence. An approach that has been legally sanctioned is to warn the intended victim. This study examined the effects of such warnings on the warned persons and on the therapeutic relationship. METHODS: All second-, third-, and fourth-year psychiatric residents (N = 46) in a university- based psychiatric residency program in San Francisco were interviewed about their experiences related to issuing Tarasoff warnings. RESULTS: Almost half of the residents (N = 22) reported having issued a Tarasoff warning. Most warnings were issued for patients seen in inpatient units and emergency rooms. In almost half of the cases, the resident was unable to contact the intended victim but did report the threat to a law enforcement agency. In almost three-fourths of the cases in which the intended victim was contacted, the individual already knew of the threat. The most common reaction among those warned was anxiety mixed with thankfulness; most expressed an intent to modify their behavior to increase safety. The second most common reaction was denial that the patient would ever hurt them. Clinicians reported that in most cases issuing the warning had a minimal or a positive effect on the psychotherapeutic relationship. CONCLUSIONS: Many of the anticipated negative effects of the Tarasoff decision have not materialized.

Abstract Teaser
Figures in this Article

Your Session has timed out. Please sign back in to continue.
Sign In Your Session has timed out. Please sign back in to continue.
Sign In to Access Full Content
Sign in via Athens (What is this?)
Athens is a service for single sign-on which enables access to all of an institution's subscriptions on- or off-site.
Not a subscriber?

Subscribe Now/Learn More

PsychiatryOnline subscription options offer access to the DSM-5 library, books, journals, CME, and patient resources. This all-in-one virtual library provides psychiatrists and mental health professionals with key resources for diagnosis, treatment, research, and professional development.

Need more help? PsychiatryOnline Customer Service may be reached by emailing PsychiatryOnline@psych.org or by calling 800-368-5777 (in the U.S.) or 703-907-7322 (outside the U.S.).




CME Activity

There is currently no quiz available for this resource. Please click here to go to the CME page to find another.
Submit a Comments
Please read the other comments before you post yours. Contributors must reveal any conflict of interest.
Comments are moderated and will appear on the site at the discertion of APA editorial staff.

* = Required Field
(if multiple authors, separate names by comma)
Example: John Doe

Web of Science® Times Cited: 21

Related Content
The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Psychiatry, 5th Edition > Chapter 31.  >
Textbook of Psychotherapeutic Treatments > Chapter 3.  >
Textbook of Psychotherapeutic Treatments > Chapter 14.  >
Textbook of Psychotherapeutic Treatments > Chapter 14.  >
Textbook of Psychotherapeutic Treatments > Chapter 30.  >
Topic Collections
Psychiatric News
PubMed Articles