Conflicting Roles in the Forensic Setting

The APA stance on dual relationships for psychology professionals in a correctional setting

There are several roles that are appropriate for a professional psychologist. A professional psychologist can function in any roles that are consistent with their educational training and practice such as performance management evaluator, therapist, teacher, supervisor, researcher, employer, an expert witness for the courts, or as a forensic psychologist. Simultaneous assumption of more than one of these roles leads to dual role conflict. Dual relationship occurs when the psychology professional combines incompatible professional roles and behavior, to the disadvantage of the client (Broomfield, 2008). The APA has put in place professional policy and rule that governs dual relationships between a psychology professional and their clients in the community. The 1953 APA principle states that, the professional psychology professional has the cardinal obligation to respect the welfare and integrity of his or her client and those of the co-workers. The APA code warns professional psychologists from entering into clinical relationships with people so close that their welfare might endangered by the dual relationship (Behnke, 2004).

The inherent conflict a psychology professional in a corrections setting might experience by being in the dual role of a treatment provider and an evaluator

Psychologists might attempt to hold two roles of serving as clinician and as an evaluator at the same time. The psychologist who simultaneously tries to promote the well-being of the client and to aid the court on how to handle an inmate might experience a number of conflicts or challenges. First, the psychology professional may have problems maintaining rapport with the client. Second, dual relationship leads to confusion as to who should benefit from the relationship. It therefore becomes difficult for the psychology professional to maintain distinguished professional boundary with the client. These conflicts explain why dual relationships for professional psychologists in correctional settings should be discouraged (Broomfield, 2008).

The individual client factors that might influence prerelease decisions made by psychology professionals in a corrections setting

The psychology professional in a correctional setting might choose to make prerelease decision based on individual client factors. These include demonstration of; good discipline in the institution, good prognosis for supervision, low risk of future dangerous crime, and good attitude in prison (Carroll et al., 1982).



Carroll, J., Wiener, R., Coates, D., Galegher, J. & Alibrio, J. (1982). Evaluation, Diagnosis, and Prediction in Parole Decision Making. Law and Society Review, 17(1): 199-226.

Behnke, S. (2004). Multiple Relationships and APA’s New Ethics Code: Values and Applications. Ethics Rounds, 35(1): 66

Broomfield, K. (2008). Challenges Psychologists Encounter Working in a Correctional Setting. Contemporary Issues in Counseling, 1: 40.


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