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Posted: September 28th, 2023

Mandated Reporting: A Practitioner’s Ethical and Legal Obligation

Discussion. Prompt:

This week you will be challenged to put the knowledge you’ve acquired through the readings about mandated reporting to practice. For this assignment, you will search the internet for a video /documentary/movie of an abuse case. You will have the creative freedom to choose a video that depicts any type of abuse that therapists/counselors are mandated to report (remember that not all abuse is reportable). After you find this video, you will follow the steps outlined below to complete your main post.


Write a brief overview of the video you watched.
Imagine you are the therapist assigned to this case and that the client has come to session and told you the story you saw in the video of the abuse.
Describe what triggered your obligation to report the abuse.
Outline the steps you see yourself taking to assess for abuse, report it, manage the situation with your client(s), provide resources, safety planning, etc.
Fill out the appropriate report template you would use to make the report (CPS/APS) specific to the state you hope to become licensed in and attach it to your main post so others can see it. You will not be able to save the pdf, but you can take a screenshot or “snip” of the report. Please make sure that after you write the name of the victim, you write FICTIONAL REPORT. Do not add real phone numbers and addresses. In these spaces you can simply put an “X”.
Write a reflection of how you experienced this process and what you found to be the most challenging aspects of it as well as insight you gained about personal biases, triggers, assumptions, etc.
Paste the link of your video for reference

Mandated Reporting: A Practitioner’s Ethical and Legal Obligation
As a mental health practitioner, mandated reporting is an important legal and ethical duty to protect clients, especially vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly, and those with disabilities (Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2019). This paper will discuss mandated reporting requirements, the reporting process, managing client relationships, and providing support post-reporting.
Most states have mandated reporting laws that require certain professionals to report suspected abuse and neglect (Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2019). Therapists, counselors, and other mental health workers are typically included as mandated reporters and must report suspected abuse that comes to their attention through a client disclosure or observation (National Conference of State Legislatures, 2022). The type of abuse that must be reported varies by state but generally includes physical, sexual, and severe emotional abuse and neglect (Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2019).
Reporting Process
If, through a client session, a mental health practitioner suspects abuse has occurred, the first step is to assess and document the situation to determine if a report is warranted (National Association of Social Workers, 2021). Practitioners should gather only necessary identifying information about the client and alleged perpetrator. The next step is filing a report promptly with the appropriate state agency, such as child or adult protective services (National Association of Social Workers, 2021). Verbal reports are typically followed by a written report within a mandated timeframe, such as 24-72 hours (Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2019).
Client Relationship

Upon reporting, the practitioner’s priority shifts to the client’s safety, needs, and care (National Association of Social Workers, 2021). The client should be informed of the report in an age-appropriate manner. It is important to validate the client’s experience, manage reactions, provide appropriate referrals, and continue counseling with adjusted safety plans as needed (National Association of Social Workers, 2021). The client-practitioner relationship and trust must be maintained throughout the reporting process.
Reporting can be an emotionally difficult process for practitioners as well (New York State Office of Mental Health, 2016). Agencies provide guidance on self-care, case consultation, and dealing with potential backlash or system involvement after a report (New York State Office of Mental Health, 2016). Practitioners may experience feelings of failure, guilt, or uncertainty in balancing duties (New York State Office of Mental Health, 2016). Peer support and supervision can help practitioners process experiences with mandated reporting.
In conclusion, mandated reporting is a critical legal and ethical responsibility for mental health practitioners to protect clients from harm. While not always an easy process, following proper procedures and providing ongoing care and support can help practitioners meet their duty as well as support clients through difficult circumstances.
Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2019). Mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau.
National Association of Social Workers. (2021). NASW standards for social work practice in child welfare.
National Conference of State Legislatures. (2022). Mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect.
New York State Office of Mental Health. (2016). Mandated reporting: A guide for mental health clinicians.

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