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Psychologists May Refuse To Treat Patients Due To Ethics


As a psychologist, you want to help people feel better about themselves. In doing so, you may feel as though you need to help as many people as possible. But there’s a limit to doing so. It’s called ethics.

When potential clients call you to schedule an appointment, they may assume that you will automatically accept them. You may wish you could, but sometimes you just can’t for ethical reasons. You will not be providing these clients with the best care if you treated them unethically.

As a psychologist, you may wonder: how do ethics apply in my line of work? Here are some reasons why you may need to decline patients.

You Would Be Outside Your Scope

Psychologists are not trained nor comfortable dealing with every psychological issue. For example, you may not know a lot about sexual identity or gender dysphoria issues. Some psychologists focus more on eating disorders. If you don’t specialize in these issues, then your best bet is to refer the person to someone who can treat them properly.

There is a Conflict of Interest

If you have a relationship with a client, then it can be hard to be objective and have good judgment when treating them. You should not have clients who are friends, neighbors, or someone that your spouse knows. That would be a conflict of interest. On the flip side, therapists should also avoid getting into any kind of personal relationship with a former client. Having dual relationships like this can be harmful to the client.

There Are Issues With Cost or Insurance

If the client cannot afford to pay or you do not accept their insurance, then you may want to refer them elsewhere. You can try to work with them on the cost, such as meeting less frequently or offering shorter sessions, but do not do anything unethical, such as engage in fraudulent billing with the insurance company. It’s not worth it.

You Don’t Offer the Proper Mode of Delivery

You may only offer in-person sessions, but a client may be interested in telehealth, or vice versa. Telehealth is convenient but is not always the best method for some clients, especially if they have internet issues or feel uncomfortable talking about their problems online. In any case, you want to offer the mode of therapy that will work best for a client. If you can’t help them, then refer them elsewhere.

Keep Your License With Help From a Tampa Psychologist Licensing Lawyer

As a psychologist, you may feel bad about not being able to treat someone, but as a licensed professional, ethics do apply. You have to follow the rules and avoid immoral decisions.

Has a complaint been filed against you? Do you have concerns about your license? If so, contact a Tampa psychologist licensing lawyer from The Law Offices of David P. Rankin, P.A. and get the advice you need. Schedule a consultation with my office today by calling (813) 968-6633 or filling out the online form.