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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 165075 Find in a Library
Title: Therapist Ethical Responsibilities for Spousal Abuse Cases
Journal: Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma  Issue:1  Dated:(1997)  Pages:39-54
Author(s): N N Cervantes; M Hansen
Date Published: 1997
Page Count: 16
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article reviews and delineates the ethical responsibilities of clinicians to clients who are involved in abusive relationships, with ethical responsibilities distinguished from legal mandates.
Abstract: Therapists have an ethical obligation to clients who are victims of spouse abuse to incorporate violence prevention into the treatment plan. This obligation arises from the ethical mandate to provide effective treatment, based on the premise that the primary goal of therapy is to help without doing harm. To discharge their ethical obligation, therapists must assess for violence even if violence is not the presenting problem. When violence is present, violence prevention needs to be the primary goal. Awareness of legal reforms in the particular jurisdiction is essential because therapy can provide alternative problem- solving strategies but cannot ensure safety. Both legal remedies and therapeutic interventions are necessary to avoid potentially harmful results. The duty to warn and the duty to report physical injury are forms of legal mandates, and therapists must be committed to stopping the cycle of violence experienced by their clients in order to minimize liability. Although the debate about the effectiveness of legal mandates imposed on therapists will continue, legal mandates in the form of continuing education and mandatory reporting laws may be necessary for therapists to recognize the seriousness of domestic violence and their role in stopping the violence. 59 references
Main Term(s): Victims of violent crime
Index Term(s): Abusing spouses; Domestic assault prevention; Psychotherapy; Violence prevention
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