Originally published in Volume: 1 Issue: 4 of HeadLines
This question often arises when a member has been treating or assessing a client where the primary focus of clinical attention has not involved an assessment of the factors bearing upon the opinion being sought. This may occur, for example, when a member has conducted a psychoeducational assessment, or treatment for an anxiety disorder, and the member is later asked to provide information to be used in a parental rights matter. Another example is when a member has provided psychotherapy to address a client’s emotional disorder and is then asked to provide a letter regarding the individual’s readiness to return to work after an injury.
In providing professional opinions, a member must consider the following requirement in section 10.3 of the Standards:
10.3 Rendering Opinions
A member must render only those professional opinions that are based on current, reliable, adequate, and appropriate information.
In the first example above, a member should only provide information that they can reasonably expect to be used to determine custody or access arrangements if they have conducted an appropriate assessment for the purpose of determining child custody and/or access. Likewise, in the second example, a member should only opine on a person’s suitability to return to work after appropriate consideration of the person’s rehabilitation needs and the task requirements of the workplace.
Members must ensure that they work only within their authorized areas of practice and provide only those services in which they have the adequate knowledge, skill, and experience, within those authorized areas.
Even when a member is authorized and qualified to provide an opinion unrelated to the service they have been providing, and have conducted an adequate assessment, problems may arise if they assume a dual role. Usually, such requests for information are related to the rights and entitlements of the client. They also have an impact on others, such as family members, colleagues, or employers. A clinician who has not conducted an appropriate, objective assessment of the matter at hand can face challenges with respect to whether they have exercised sufficient neutrality. There may also be a perceived conflict of interest if it appears that a continued professional relationship could be endangered by offering an opinion that is seen to be unfavourable to the client’s interests.