APA Ethics Code Help?

I have the following ethical situation to write about:

A client has confided many sensitive issues to you in the course of therapy. During the therapy, the client is injured in the workplace and develops post-traumatic symptoms. The Worker’s Compensation insurance company pays her claim for medical treatment, but denies any payments for psychotherapy. After repeated attempts to gain coverage for her work-related psychological injuries, the client retains an attorney to represent her at a hearing before the Worker’s Compensation Board.
The client’s attorney contacts you to share her plan to call you to testify at the Worker’s Compensation Board hearing.
What are the ethical and therapeutic issues that you must take into account in this situation?
Should you agree to testify? Explain your reasoning.

I know:
If I were to go along with the attorney and testify I would need consent from the client to release personal information.

I might give biased information since I already have had a professional relationship with the client for a while. Should I recommend an outside psychologist to evaluate the client and testify?

Or… Am I needed to let the Board know that these new issues that have come up after the injury have no relationship with what the client was already seeing me for? Maybe they are refusing psychotherapy because she was already receiving it and they are claiming the mental issues were preexisting and in that case I would need to testify?

I know in child custody evaluations the psychologist is best to have no previous relationship with any of the clients involved for fairness. I am not sure in this case.

What am I missing here? The instructor is looking for something specific and I think I am missing it.

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One Response to “APA Ethics Code Help?”

  1. michele Says:

    The primary issue here appears to be that of consent (which you already mentioned). Assuming that you have received the informed consent of the client to testify in the hearing, you should proceed. As her psychologist both before and after the incident, you would be in a unique position to comment on any changes in her mental health that appeared to be a direct result of the injury she sustained on the job. Although an outside consult may be beneficial (e.g., to confirm your dx of PTSD), you are the appropriate person to provide the bulk of the testimony.

    Therapeutic issues to consider still remain, however. In the process of obtaining informed consent of your client, you would be wise to discuss the possibility that your testimony could be detrimental (inadvertently) to her case. You would also be wise to discuss with the client that possibility that you will be asked to reveal confidential information (e.g., previous diagnostic impressions, case history) which is unrelated (at least temporally) to her work injury. It is possible, of course, that a previous diagnosis would come to bear in the case in a negative way.

    For example, if your client were being treated for a condition which is associated with lying or manipulative behaviors (e.g., malingering, borderline personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, etc) and you revealed that diagnosis during the course of the hearing, it is possible that your testimony could decrease her chances of winning the case.

    ~Dr. B.~