Forensic and therapeutic roles cannot ethically coincide in any given circumstance.The issue of the dual role is a common area of contestation in forensic psychiatry and forensic psychology. To that effect, commentators in the fields of forensic psychiatry and forensic have developed the principle of avoiding dual roles (Heilbrun, DeMatteo & Marczyk, 2004). Failure to adequately distinguish between therapeutic and forensic roles often results in deleterious consequences. According to Greenberg and Shuman (1997), these dual roles can potentially cause (either intentionally or inadvertently) harm to the individual being evaluated or treated, damage the profession’s credibility or reputation, compromise provision of quality services and hamper legal proceedings.
Based on the dangers borne of these dual roles, professional guidelines and ethical standards have been developed to explicitly address the principle of avoiding dual roles.The American Psychological Association (2002), the American Academy of Psychiatry & the Law (1995), and the Committee on Ethical Guidelines for Forensic Psychologists (1991) represent the three professional bodies that have addressed themselves to the issue of dual roles. The detrimental impacts of dual professional engagements have been recognized by the American Psychological Association (APA, 2003) in its “Ethical Guidelines for Clinical Psychologists”, as well as by the Committee on Ethical Guidelines for Forensic Psychologists (1991) in its “Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychologists”.
These guidelines negate the assumption of dual professional roles and require clinicians to minimize harm in cases where dual roles are unavoidable.An individual is normally presented to a therapist solely for treatment. Conversely, the same is scarcely the case for individuals presented for .forensic evaluations. In essence, therapy generally refers to the process followed in treating illness, injury, or behavioral disorder. .Forensic evaluations, on the other hand, lent more focus on informing decision-making with regards to adversarial matters, such as court proceedings, parole board decisions, and/or licensing board decisions.