Ethical Principles and the Communication of Forensic Mental Health Assessments
Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science
School of Psychology and Social Science
Our premise is that ethics is the essence of good forensic practice and that mental health professionals must adhere to the ethical principles, standards, and guidelines of their professional bodies when they communicate their findings and opinions. We demonstrate that adhering to ethical principles can improve the quality of forensic reports and communications. We demonstrate this by focusing on the most basic principles that underlie professional ethical standards and guidelines, namely, Fidelity and Responsibility, Integrity, Respecting Rights and Dignity of Persons, and Justice and Fairness. For each principle we offer a brief definition and explain its demands. Then we identify ways in which the principle can guide the organization, content, or style of forensic mental health report writing, offering illustrative examples that demonstrate or abuse the principle.