Taube, Daniel O.,Scroppo, Joe,Zelechoski, Amanda D.
Practice Innovations, Oct 04 , 2018
Risk management is an essential skill for professionals and is important throughout the course of their careers. Effective risk management blends a utilitarian focus on the potential costs and benefits of particular courses of action, with a solid foundation in ethical principles. Awareness of particularly risk-laden circumstances and practical strategies can promote safer and more effective practice. This article reviews nine situations and their associated lessons, illustrated by case examples. These situations emerged from our experience as risk management consultants who have listened to and assisted many practitioners in addressing the challenges they face on a day-to-day basis. The lessons include a focus on obtaining consent, setting boundaries, flexibility, attention to clinician affect, differentiating the clinician’s own values and needs from those of the client, awareness of the limits of competence, maintaining adequate legal knowledge, keeping good records, and routine consultation. We highlight issues and approaches to consider in these types of cases that minimize risks of adverse outcomes and enhance good practice.
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Being aware of basic legal parameters can help clinicians to avoid making errors in this complex arena. Yet clinicians are not usually lawyers and tend to have only limited legal knowledge. This gives rise to a risk of assuming more mastery than one may have.
Indeed, research suggests that a range of professionals, including psychotherapists, overestimate their capabilities and competencies, even in areas in which they have received substantial training (Creed, Wolk, Feinberg, Evans, & Beck, 2016; Lipsett, Harris, & Downing, 2011; Mathieson, Barnfield, & Beaumont, 2009; Walfish, McAlister, O’Donnell, & Lambert, 2012).