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How Did Tarasoff Affect Clinical Practice?

William J. Bowers, Daniel J. Givelber and Carolyn L. Blitch
The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Vol. 484, The Law and Mental Health: Research and Policy (Mar., 1986), pp. 70-85
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1045185
Page Count: 16
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How Did Tarasoff Affect Clinical Practice?
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Abstract

The Tarasoff decisions of the California Supreme Court in 1974 and 1976 held that psychotherapists could be held liable for failing to protect the victims of their potentially violent patients. Our survey of psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers in eight metropolitan areas showed that Californians were more likely to have heard of the case, to believe it required warning the likely victim, and actually to issue warnings in such cases than were psychotherapists from other jurisdictions. Therapists were more willing to take steps to protect victims in 1980 than in 1975, but willingness to warn increased more among Californians than among those in other states. We conclude that although Tarasoff has influenced therapists' attitudes and behavior more in California than elsewhere, the case has also affected psychotherapeutic practice nationally.

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