A new law is under consideration in the Arkansas General Assembly that could strengthen the ability of mental health professionals to protect the public.
The law, HB1746 was authored by Rep. Ann V. Clemmer and is co-authored by Sen. Cecille Bledsoe.
Rep. Clemmer told me yesterday, March 29, 2013, that the bill was designed to “bring Arkansas Laws in line with mental health ethical practice.” This is the first law concerning duty to warn that has been introduced in the Arkansas General Assembly. Passage is expected by the end of the present term, April 2013.
Counseling professionals operate under one of several codes of ethics, for instance, Counselors at Northwest Counseling, Inc. operates under the American Counseling Association Code of Ethics (2005). These codes of ethics already have duty to warn provisions. The current Arkansas law does not.
The substance of this law relates to how all mental health professionals, physicians and healthcare institutions must respond when, in the course of counseling they learn that a patient intends to harm others or themselves. Essentially this law, consistent with the ACA Code of Ethics, requires mental healthcare providers to breach patient confidentiality in order to warn potential victims and law enforcement of the intended harm.
Except for when it is learned that a child is or has been abused and the case of a court subpoenaing records there are no other circumstances in which a counselor will breach therapist / client confidentiality.
IF you have questions about patient information and confidentiality, please speak with your counselor.
To discuss this further, you can contact me at
Northwest Counseling, Inc.
2705 SE G Street
Bentonville, AR 72712
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