Free Essay on the Tarasoff Case

Published: 2022-09-09
Free Essay on the Tarasoff Case
Type of paper:  Critical thinking
Categories:  Criminal law Mental health
Pages: 2
Wordcount: 496 words
5 min read

The Tarasoff case had a significant impact on mental health practitioners so that victims could be protected against violent acts. First, the matter came up with a duty that cautioned the victims by implying a protection duty (Ewing, 2012). According to Koocher and Keith-Spiegel (2016), mental individuals usually develop various problems when engaged in violent acts. Moreover, the authors also added that so much information is lacking when it comes to applying the treatment theory to illnesses particularly by the diverse patient groups and the type of treatment received (Koocher & Keith-Spiegel, 2016). Many concerns are also mentioned in the Tarasoff case particularly the ones relating to confidentiality that the relationship between the social worker and the violent clients is never taken seriously.

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Based on the case study where a patient by the name Lee had received psychotherapy from Dr. Milano, it is noticeable that Lee never recovered fully. One day Lee stole a blank prescription from Dr. Milano and forged his signature (Koocher & Keith-Spiegel, 2016). According to research, the Tarasoff case has made two decisions that have been debatable in the applicability of the judgment based on the relationship between the social worker and the client (Ewing, 2012). The confidentiality and environment for the social worker, in this case, significantly changed as they divulge private information to third-party people.

The decision made by Tarasoff was, therefore, considered important as the legal implications because only 13 states only used it in the U.S (Ewing, 2012). The same case is also seen in Dr. Milano's case where even after filing the claim in court, the Trasoff decision could not have assisted him because the law requires the medical practitioner to caution the social worker of the dangers of violence which he failed. This is the reason why the court rejected his claims because they looked at the analogy by comparing the situation and the idea about warning other people especially cases of imminent danger and found out that Milano is liable for the damages (Koocher & Keith-Spiegel, 2016).

Koocher and Keith-Spiegel argued that many mental health behavioral and professionals' scientists enter the field with the willingness to assist others but clinical research and practice endeavors are the ones involved on decision making particularly in the context of ethical ambiguity (2016). The authors also added that while good intentions are important, they don't guarantee in the protection of the client and practitioner from the ethical conduct breaches (Koocher & Keith-Spiegel, 2016). The idea, therefore, of warning the social worker must be done verbally by cautioning the victim that there is danger in violence. The duty to protect people in, other words, means that the therapist must determine whether the patient presents any form of a threat with the obligation of using reasonable care for protection.


Ewing, C. (2012). Tarasoff Update: Psychotherapy Threats Alone Provide No Basis For Criminal Prosecution. PsycEXTRA Dataset, 75-60. doi:10.1037/e300012003-013

Koocher, G. P. & Keith-Spiegel, P. (2016). Ethics in psychology and mental health professions. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

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