How our litigious society is interfering with providing good clinical practice.

 

I was just reflecting today on how unfortunate it is that so many of us are so fearful of legal concerns that we restrict ourselves and our practice from what we might truly believe to be beneficial to the client. Not to say the concern isn’t real, but sometimes it prevents us from providing the care that is needed to our patients. A client suicides and the therapist wonders, did I document properly to prevent from being held responsible for this persons death. In honest truth, people have free will, and if someone decides to commit suicide that is a choice they personally make, regardless of the fact that they have denied a plan or intent to their therapist. The therapist then asks, did I probe enough and ask the right questions to people to support the fact that this person was never hospitalized for suicidality. When did it become our job as therapists to ensure that nobody commits suicide, ever? I also recently had a therapist express concern regarding letting a client tape record the sessions for the client’s own use. Shouldn’t the client have a right to tape their own therapy sessions that they are paying $$$ for? The issue for the therapist becomes, will this be used in court? Will something be held against me? These worries may lead to the therapist denying the request, which is unfortunate because listening to the wonderful feedback you get from your therapist can be so important in one’s road to recovery. Simply hearing how you might come across to others is great feedback for anyone. It’s a vicious cycle and it’s not unique to the psychotherapy field. Fear of legal repercussions is essentially dictating the way providers work with patients and not necessarily for the better.