Welcome to the Nexus of Ethics, Psychology, Morality, Philosophy and Health Care

Welcome to the nexus of ethics, psychology, morality, philosophy and health care

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Vignette 9: Psychologist as Character Witness?

A psychologist receives a phone message from a former patient.  The former patient is asking for the psychologist to be a “character witness” as he has an upcoming hearing for a minor criminal offense. His attorney believes that some good, written character references will really help out with the case.

The psychologist pulls the former patient’s chart.  The psychologist has not worked with the patient for about two years. Additionally, none of the treatment issues had to do with impulse control or antisocial tendencies. Therapy lasted about a year and focused on depression and relationship issues. The psychologist recalls that the patient had always been good-natured, attended appointments regularly, and worked well in therapy.  The psychologist remembers the former patient as a likeable person.

How would you feel about receiving this request?

What ethical issues are involved?

What are your potential options?

If you decide to provide information, would you consider communicating with the prior patient’s attorney?  What would you need from the attorney?