Victim Services

Unit 4: Legal Aspects

Victim Services Privileged Communication & Duty to Warn

While victim service providers are not considered counseling, it is recommended to follow the Duty to Warn policies and procedures outlined in the Tarasoff v. Regents of Univ. of California case. 

Duty to warn. The 1976 case of Tarasoff v. Regents of Univ. of California established that when a therapist determines that a patient presents a serious danger of violence toward another person, the therapist must take reasonable steps to protect that person, including warning the victim and notifying the police.

In summary: 

A victim service provider must break confidentiality and warn local law enforcement authorities if:

1.      The client has made a specific threat of violence towards an identified person.
2.      The client makes a specific threat of harm against themselves.

IC 34-30-16-2 Duty to warn or to take reasonable precautions; discharge
   Sec. 2. The duty to warn of or to take reasonable precautions to provide protection from violent behavior or other serious harm arises only under the limited circumstances specified in section 1 of this chapter. The duty is discharged by a mental health service provider who takes one (1) or more of the following actions:
    (1) Makes reasonable attempts to communicate the threat to the victim or victims.
    (2) Makes reasonable efforts to notify a police department or other law enforcement agency having jurisdiction in the patient's or victim's place of residence.
    (3) Seeks civil commitment of the patient under IC 12-26.
    (4) Takes steps reasonably available to the provider to prevent the patient from using physical violence or other means of harm to others until the appropriate law enforcement agency can be summoned and takes custody of the patient.
    (5) Reports the threat of physical violence or other means of harm, within a reasonable period of time after receiving knowledge of the threat, to a physician or psychologist who is designated by the employer of a mental health service provider as an individual who has the responsibility to warn under this chapter.
As added by P.L.1-1998, SEC.26.

Client Confidentiality:

Victim service providers and clients are covered in the Indiana Code for:  Privileged Communications and Victim Counseling http://www.in.gov/legislative/ic/2010/title35/ar37/ch6.html