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Monday, November 5, 2012

Vignette 19: A Missing Patient

A psychologist has been working individually with a 17-year-old male for issues related to depression and family dynamics. The psychologist and the young man have been engaged in psychotherapy for the past 2 years. The patient has trust issues with his parents, especially his father.

Ten minutes prior the scheduled appointment, the patient's mother calls the psychologist on the phone. The mother explains that the child has run away and the mother has reported the child missing to the police. The mother further reports that the patient's cousin has been driving the patient around town. She wants the psychologist to phone the police immediately when the patient arrives in order to arrest the cousin for unlawfully detaining the minor child or kidnapping and recover her minor child.

After the phone call, the psychologist checks the waiting room and sees the patient there.  He is talking with a young man, most likely his cousin.

What obligations does the psychologist have to the parent?

What obligations does the psychologist have to the patient?

What is the psychologist to do?

What are some likely emotional reactions would you have in this situation?