edited by Steven F. Bucky, Joanne E. Callan, and George Stricker; Binghamton, New York, Haworth Maltreatment and Trauma Press, 2005, 433 pages, $59
Dr. Arikan is a lecturer in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester.
Multiple relationships with your patient? Bartering? Is your state a Tarasoff or Jablonski state? Do you have a duty of any sort if your patient is making threats toward unidentified potential victims? What about ethical guidelines for such issues?
Over the past two decades, a number of good books have addressed the legal aspects of mental health professions and helped clinicians develop a good understanding of the general legal principles regulating their practice. Psychiatric ethics has long been a subject of discussion for medical ethicists as well as professional organizations. However, questions such as those above and many others often deserve a comparative and systematic discussion of both the ethical and legal paradigms involving the particular situation in question. Ethical and Legal Issues for Mental Health Professionals attempts to accomplish this difficult task in quite a comprehensive manner. Especially geared toward psychologists and social workers, the book covers common questions related to various clinical issues, such as confidentiality, privilege, consent, duty to protect, and dual roles, as well as to important academic issues, such as research ethics, professional competence, publications, and supervision of trainees.
Ethical and Legal Issues for Mental Health Professionals is a well-written book with nicely organized chapters. I found it easy to read from cover to cover; however, it can also be used as a reference text. Each chapter includes relevant sections of the psychologists' and social workers' professional ethics guidelines and current statutes or the case law applicable to a majority of states. In addition to detailed explanations and summary of the current literature, case vignettes or actual case summaries are provided.
In addition to focused discussion of the relevant ethical guidelines of professional organizations in each chapter, the appendices include full texts of the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct and Code of Ethics of the National Association of Social Workers. Even though the book particularly refers to the ethics codes of psychologists and social workers, it is also applicable to psychiatry. I would recommend it as a supplemental text for psychiatrists and psychiatry residents as long as the ethics code of the American Psychiatric Association—The Principles of Medical Ethics With Annotations Especially Applicable to Psychiatry—is also referred to by the reader. It is my hope that the editors will incorporate the American Psychiatric Association's ethics code in a future edition of the book.
In sum, Ethical and Legal Issues for Mental Health Professionals is a comprehensive handbook that provides the necessary historical and legal background for many common ethical and legal questions. It discusses these questions in detail with practical suggestions that should be useful in real-life situations. Although primarily written for psychologists and social workers, it could be used as a reference book for similar issues encountered in psychiatric practice.