Legal and ethical considerations regarding the family circumstances
According to the Quest family Case, domestic violence treatment programs have historically been designed for men who have been, or are at risk for becoming violent with an intimate partner. With the recent advent of mandatory arrest laws for domestic violence, treatment programs around the country have proliferated in response to the growing need for services of court-mandated clients. ( Margi Laird 2008, 45-67)
Additionally, women who have been arrested for domestic violence are also often referred for mandatory treatment. In most programs, family safety remains a primary and immediate concern, however while this goal is often commonly pursued the approach and underlying rationale may differ significantly from program to program. As may be inferred by the variety of theoretical orientations described in this book, and in direct contrast to the currently popular and seemingly politically correct view that education remains the intervention of choice we believe this an overly simplistic and naive notion that ignores the rich and evolving literature regarding potential methodologies available for intervening clinically in the area of domestic violence. However, regardless of what theoretical orientation a clinician or treatment program utilizes when intervening with this population, there remain legal and ethical issues that must be addressed when planning, developing or providing such services. This chapter will focus on many of the most common issues clinicians, agency's and organizations must address when treating the domestic violence perpetrator. However, by definition, the specific legal and/or ethical decisions a professional must make, is often issue and case specific. Therefore, while we will provide as much specificity as possible, it remains incumbent that the treating clinician realize that difficult legal and ethical decisions must be made within the context of their professional legal and ethical mandates ( i.e. psychiatry, psychology, social work and marriage and family therapy), their location (the state laws applicable to their jurisdiction) and the specific facts of the clinical situation. Therefore, the recommendations in this chapter are offered only as general guidelines to assist in well reasoned and thoughtful issue specific decision making. Lastly, the authors believe that decisions that reflect appropriate sensitivity to legal and ethical issues must be made by the treating professional with the appropriate consultation of peers, supervisors and legal council. Based in part on the author's experience, the most important common areas where professionals encounter difficult legal and ethical decisions in treating this population, particularly the court mandated client includes: 1) informed consent and other issues related to client safety, 2) confidentiality and privilege, 3) scope of competence and license, 4) financial issues, and 5) advertising. We will address each of these issues separately and examine many of the more common legal and ethical dilemmas that arise for clinicians when working with this population. (Margi Laird 2008, 45-67)
What are legal issues? For purposes of our discussion legal issues are relevant in two areas, laws governing the practice of your profession and criminal and civil laws that either directly ...