Discussion: Risk Assessment and Duty to Warn

The psychologist’s assessment of the dangerousness of the client, or risk assessment, is a key factor in duty to warn/protect situations. Rather than being a one-session event, such assessment is a fluid and on-going process. The psychologist must investigate and track symptoms and signs of potential violence from a client’s first indication of intent to harm. This should continue right up through the very last therapy session, even if it seems that a client’s aggression has calmed. This is a delicate process that requires mindfulness on the part of the psychologist. In order to avoid accusations that put a client on the defensive, the psychologist should engage the client in a mutual process of keeping all concerned safe from harm.

By Day 4

1) Post a descriiption of the specific information that must be gathered in a competent risk assessment.

2) Next, explain how a psychologist should gather and use this information in two different circumstances:

A) in a hypothetical situation in which you are the clinician in charge, and

B) in a hypothetical situation in which you as the clinician are not the decision maker, and you therefore must communicate information, including your risk assessment, to those responsible for making clinical decisions.

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