In a mass murder situation, there could be no identifiable victims to warn, but there could be intended/foreseeable victims to try and protect. xii Id. Under Tarasoff the Case, to discharge the duty to protect, one could warn the intended victim or others likely to apprise the victim of the danger, one could notify the police, or one could take whatever other steps are reasonably necessary under the circumstances. Certainly a therapist should not be routinely encouraged to reveal such threats; such disclosures could seriously disrupt the patient’s relationship with his therapist and with the persons threatened. About two months later, in October of 1969, Tatiana returned to California from Brazil, and Poddar began following her again. Thus, Tarasoff the Case provides three options and Tarasoff the Statute offers two options. The assessment should help you clarify what you believe about the patient’s capacity for committing violence. The lawsuit filed by the Tarasoffs was ultimately heard by the California Supreme Court twice, which is remarkable in itself, and on July 1, 1976, the court announced the following ground-breaking dutyiv for psychotherapists: “When a therapist determines, or pursuant to the standards of his profession should determine, that his patient presents a serious danger of violence to another, he incurs an obligation to use reasonable care to protect the intended victim against such danger. Volume 11, Issue 1-2 Tarasoff and the Duty to Protect Search in: Advanced search. Within the broad range of reasonable practice and treatment in which professional opinion and judgment may differ, the therapist is free to exercise his or her own best judgment without liability; proof, aided by hindsight, that he or she judged wrongly is insufficient to establish negligence.”. Either you believe your patient is reasonably likely to commit violence, or you don’t: Of course, your records need to reflect these decisions and document the rationale for them. So, are you ready to do The Tarasoff Two-Step? 14 (Cal. He had raped and committed other acts of violence against his previous wife. Is immunity from liability available? ©Copyright 2019, California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists   |  7901 Raytheon Road, San Diego, CA 92111-1606. If a patient threatens to commit violence against another person, the psychotherapist does not need to hear that threat directly from the patient himself or herself to have to assess the threat.x. One difference between Tarasoff the Case and Tarasoff the Statute is how the duty to protect is triggered. If your patient is the potential victim of violence, you should be working with your patient to formulate a safety plan for that person. Does it sound like Tarasoff the Case and Tarasoff the Statute are playing the same “tune” or different “tunes?” There seem to be three significant differences between Tarasoff the Case and Tarasoff the Statute. If the therapist’s assessment of the patient causes the therapist to reasonably determine the patient is dangerous to another person, the duty to protect the intended victim has been triggered, which leads to the “discharge” step. 1974). (former CAMFT Staff Attorney) 2. On October 27, 1969, Poddar went to the Tarasoff’s home and found Tatiana alone. Such situations could, however, result in the reporting of suspected child, elder, or dependent adult abuse, depending on the facts. Duty to warn means that the social worker must verbally tell the intended victim that there is a foreseeable danger of violence. On August 18, 1969, he was a voluntary outpatient at Cowell Memorial Hospital. The key is using an assessment tool that has been generally recognized by the psychotherapy community, which certainly includes assessment devices published in textbooks, practice handbooks, peer-reviewed articles, and information acquired from continuing education course instructors. This statute says: There shall be no monetary liability on the part of, ..., any person who is a psychotherapist in failing to warn of and protect from a patient’s threatened violent behavior or failing to predict and warn of and protect from a patient’s violent behavior except where the patient has communicated to the psychotherapist a serious threat of physical violence against a reasonably identifiable victim or victims. American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc. 2001. p.190 TARASOFF the CASE (determined by CA Supreme Court, 1976) 1. The differences in the language used raise a key question: Do you need an actual threat of violence before you can determine whether someone is dangerous to another person? But, what were the reasons for his belief? Step Two of The Tarasoff Two-Step: Discharging the Duty to Protect. This ambiguity has been created by differences in the wording of two laws pertaining to Tarasoff situations. Poddar then stopped attending therapy with Moore. 11, No. amend.2 This appeal ensued. Moore, Poddar’s psychologist, believed (determined) that Poddar needed to be hospitalized to keep him from harming Tatiana, and possibly himself. xiv Id. If your patient communicates to you a serious threat of physical violence against a reasonably identifiable victim or victims, and you reasonably believe your patient is likely to commit such violence after assessing for it, you can discharge the duty to protect by making reasonable efforts to communicate the threat to the victim or victims and to a law enforcement agency, which will get you immunity from liability under Tarasoff the Statute, if your patient actually harms such victims. A case to be familiar with is the well-known Tarasoff v. Regents of the University of California case that helped ensure helping professions become obligated to act and protect the lives of third parties. As you work with a client, you may become privy to information that makes you concerned, or should make you concerned, that your client may kill or physically injure another human being. Patients seeking therapy have the right to privacy in their relationship with their, psychologists. Psychiatrists’ duty to protect in the context of a patient 1) realistic threats toward 2) identifiable third parties is a well-established exception to patient confidentiality. He became depressed and neglected his appearance, his studies, and his health. The threat to commit violence can be relayed to the therapist by a family member of the patient, and then the therapist must assess the patient’s capacity for violence in light of that relayed information. 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