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The legal and ethical guidelines set by the New Mexico Board of Psychologist Examiners (2015) provide a particular guideline that I believe is crucial to the relation between the psychologist and the client. Their title 16, chapter 22, part 2, guideline 10, subarea D explains how a psychologist should not stereotype their clients or base their assessments on stereotypes. This guideline is stemmed off of part 2, guideline 8, subarea B explaining how a psychologist must continuously maintain their competency level by educating themselves on information regarding various populations, techniques, and procedures through research and consultations. I believe these guidelines are crucial in relating to a client because the psychologist is creating ways to connect with their clients by understanding the client’s different and unique characteristics, as well as avoiding stereotypes through researching those unique characteristics. Through this connection with their clients, they can better understand and relate to their experiences, thought processes, and underlying causes of their psychological harm. Also, by taking the time to research and try to understand them, the clients are more likely to build trust with the psychologist, therefore bringing the psychologist-client relationship to the necessary level optimal for assessment, diagnosis, and treatment.
With the American Psychology-Law Society’s (2017) forensic psychology ethical guidelines, there is one that I believe would present the most challenges for assessment, diagnoses, and treatment. Guideline 4, section 2, subarea 1 explains how potential conflicts may arise between the therapeutic and forensic roles often required of a forensic psychologist. The possible roles that conflict with the treatment provider or therapeutic role include an evaluator or diagnostician, expert witness, and legal consultant (Heltzel, 2007). These conflicts affect the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of a client or patient because the therapeutic role consists of a perspective that relates to and wants to help the client or patient, while the forensic roles consist of a perspective that focuses on the legal obligations required of the psychologist. There is always the possibility of these roles being compatible with one another in certain situations, but I think they would pose the most challenges for a psychologist’s ability to assess, diagnose, and treat their patient or client (Heltzel, 2007).
Unless the psychologist can balance all the roles perfectly, this guideline suggests they refer their patient or client to another colleague (American Psychology-Law Society, 2017). Unfortunately, referral is not always an option. For example, an active duty military forensic psychologist is required to follow orders to evaluate other military members even if they are currently or have previously been that psychologist’s patient. This often occurs when they are deployed and only have one psychologist available to perform therapeutic and forensic services. Similarly, a forensic psychologist could be court ordered to testify as an expert witness regarding a patient or client they previously provided therapy. Another example would be when a correctional forensic psychologist has the job of providing inmates with therapy but is also required to evaluate certain inmates regarding their privileges, security levels, and parole possibilities. (Perlin, 1991).
American Psychology-Law Society (AP-LS). (2017). Specialty guidelines for forensic psychologists. Retrieved fromhttp://www.apa.org/practice/guidelines/forensic-psychology.aspx?_ga=1.55280747.1725593720.1473263869
Heltzel, T. (2007). Compatibility of therapeutic and forensic roles. Professional Psychology: Research And Practice, 38(2), 122-128. doi:10.1037/0735-7028.38.2.122
New Mexico Board of Psychologist Examiners. (2015). Rules and statutes. Retrieved fromhttp://www.rld.state.nm.us/uploads/files/Rule%20Book%20For%20Web2016.pdf
Perlin, M. L. (1991). Power imbalances in therapeutic and forensic relationships. Behavioral Sciences & The Law, 9(2), 111-128. doi:10.1002/bsl.2370090203