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Stobart, K. (2003). WOODY, H. R., Psychological Information: Protecting the Right to Privacy. Madison, CT: International Universities Press, 2002. Pp. xii + 158. Pbk. $24.95.. J. Anal. Psychol., 48(3):394-395.

(2003). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 48(3):394-395

WOODY, H. R., Psychological Information: Protecting the Right to Privacy. Madison, CT: International Universities Press, 2002. Pp. xii + 158. Pbk. $24.95.

Review by:
Karen Stobart

This book is subtitled: ‘A Guidebook for Mental Health Practitioners and their Clients’; however, it is written by a psychologist who makes it clear, repeatedly, that anyone not a psychologist and not living in Florida had best refer to their own professional body for guidance and to the laws of their specific state (other countries seem not to exist). In his writing the author seems to be demonstrating how to protect yourself from feared prosecution. I would not, therefore, recommend this book to a British mental health practitioner or client for practical use. However, Woody does raise some issues that bear thinking about.

The first sentence of Chapter 1 is ‘To protect confidentiality of health-related information, there must be a solid foundation upon which to build the defense system’. This is the essence of the problem. There is no solid foundation in English law that protects the confidentiality of information held by psychotherapists or psychoanalysts about their patients. It seems that in the United States also each case is treated on an individual basis, for example, the case of Jaffe v. Redmond, __US__(116 S Ct 1923, 135 L Ed 2 d 337, June 13, 1966) (p. 31). This case is often cited as a victory for confidentiality. The facts are that a female police officer, Mary Lu Redmond, shot and killed a man, Ricky Allen. The police officer had responded to reports of a ‘fight in progress’ and saw the deceased about to stab another man with a knife. Following the shooting the police officer received therapy from a licensed clinical social worker. The family of the deceased petitioned for the therapy notes and the social worker refused to produce the notes. The trial court rejected the defendant's argument that the communications were subject to psychotherapist-patient privilege (i.e., the communications were not protected against involuntary disclosure) and instructed the jury to presume that the notes were unfavourable to the defendant. The jury awarded the family $445, 000.

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