Can a psychologist ever break patient confidentiality?

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Jessica Pope eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A psychologist can break patient confidentiality in a number of circumstances. If the patient is accused of committing a crime and the psychologist is called to the witness stand, the psychologist may have to divulge information that would have otherwise been protected under the confidentiality clause. If the patient is a harm to himself or those around him, the psychologist may have a legal and ethical obligation to place him under involuntary psychiatric care. In that case, the psychologist would need to disclose information to the psychiatric care professional and some of that information may by typically protected by confidentiality. If the patient confesses to committing a crime or harming another individual, the psychologist might be legally obligated to report to the police, thus breaking patient confidentially.

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