Avoiding Liability Bulletin – April 2005

… Suppose a therapist or counselor (mandated reporter) in state “A” is told by her sixteen year old patient that she was abused by her uncle in state “B” when she was visiting him there eight years earlier. Suppose that she calls the appropriate county agency (e.g., child protective services or a law enforcement agency) in State “A” to which reports must be made. She is told that since the abuse took place and the abuser resides in State “B,” that she should report in state “B.” If she does, she could be in big trouble – depending upon the nuances of the applicable state law. In California, there is a law that requires the California agency to take the report from the California-mandated reporter. A report to the other state by the therapist might well constitute a breach of confidentiality. Be careful. Check this nuance out in the reporting laws in your respective states.

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Richard Leslie

Richard S. Leslie is an attorney and acknowledged expert on the interrelationship between law and the practice of marriage and family therapy and psychotherapy. Most recently, he was a consultant to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) and has written articles regarding legal and ethical issues for their Family Therapy Magazine. Prior to his work with AAMFT, Richard was Legal Counsel to the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT) for approximately twenty-two years. While there, he also served as their director of Government Relations and tirelessly advocated for due process and fairness for licensees and applicants.

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