Malpractice in the Mental Health System

At each level of the mental health system, guidelines and regulations are in place to minimize the possibility of unethical behavior. Malpractice in the mental health system is shared among mental health domains (Smith, 2003).

Malpractice Uncertainties with Practitioners

For example, healthcare providers can breach care, offer poor advice, miscommunicate treatment, inadequate notes, boundary-crossing, etc. Providers must know the necessary precautions to support their business, themselves, and clients. In my understanding, the best move is to increase our awareness surrounding the pitfalls of our profession.

Malpractice Uncertainties with Clients

This can be a difficult journey, but we work to establish a relationship based on trust and support. When the relationship boundaries are compromised, the therapist and client can present with various concerns. If our clients believe they have been maltreated, they have the right to act as they please. Clients must be aware of their options when they would like to report for malpractice. This is a beautiful topic to include in a consent form. 

The mental health field has been known for supporting people during their most vulnerable times. We have the education and experience to guide our clients ethically and with positive regard. Each client we come in contact with will have a story to share. Our role is to help clients foster an understanding of their experiences and pain.

Supporting Clients and Ourselves

We can only address issues when we are aware of them. It is never fun to be blindsided. We must consider the importance of our mental health and wellbeing. We will likely support our clients similarly when we are at our best. Self-care and supervision are imperative for processing ethical issues. 

With Intention, Sarafina


Smith, D. (2003, January). 10 ways practitioners can avoid frequent ethical pitfalls. Monitor on Psychology, 34(1).