Forensic psychologists and psychiatrists are licensed in their respective professions, but they perform most of their work with attorneys in the legal arena. Both attorneys and mental health professionals place high value on confidentiality of information, reflected in the ethics of their professions and codified into laws governing their work. In psychology and psychiatry, there are some well-known exceptions to confidentiality; two primary exceptions include the mandated reporting of suspected child abuse and various "Tarasoff" duty to warn or protect laws. Generally, however, the corresponding duty for attorneys to report suspected child abuse or to warn or protect intended victims of threatened harm is not as extensive. This difference in mandated reporting responsibilities can create significant difficulties when attorneys need to retain forensic psychologists and psychiatrists to evaluate their clients, especially in criminal contexts. If the retained psychologist or psychiatrist is required to report suspected abuse or threatened harm, the attorney may be harming his or her client's legal interests by using the forensic psychologist or psychiatrist to evaluate his or her client.
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