​Ethical and legal considerations for treatment of alleged victims: when does it become witness tampering?

Author(s) Branaman, Tim F. and Michael C. Gottlieb
Title Ethical and legal considerations for treatment of alleged victims: when does it become witness tampering?
Source Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 2013, Vol. 44, No. 5, p299-306
Date 2013
Document type Journal article
Coverage USA
Summary This article discusses psychotherapy for children who are alleged victims of sexual assault and the legal implications for practitioners. In the United States a forensic interview is generally conducted at a Child Advocacy Centre and then months or even years may pass before a child may be required to give testimony in court. The authors discuss the dangers of psychotherapists in enquiring about the alleged incident and refer to extensive research on the malleability of children's memory. Recommendations are made for therapists to consider in the first place whether therapy is required for a child victim of sexual assault or if it could be postponed. If therapy is needed it is important to involve the child's parents and explore systemic forces that may be affecting the young victim, such as the parents' distress at what has happened to the child and the anxiety the child feels about this. Other recommended treatment includes a focus on symptom management and containment of anxiety, to enable the child to testify. It is recommended that health professionals become familiar with the legal system and understand their role.
Keywords Child victims; sexual assault; testimony; child witnesses; treatment; forensic; child therapy; pre-trial therapy
Topic Children