Psychologists are held to very high standards of practice.  Existing statute, regulation and case law govern many aspects of our practice.  They are particularly important in terms of the legal protections they provide clients, especially in terms of their confidentiality.  Click on any title below to see a more detailed reference.


Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Pub. L. N0. 101-336, 104 Stat. 328.

When an employer requires a medical evaluation (including directed referrals to BSS) such evaluations shall be job related and consistent with business necessity.

 American Psychological Association. (2002). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct. Washington DC: American Psych.

Provides both enforceable and aspirational ethical guidelines for psychologists.  In the State of California, the enforceable aspects of the ethics code are incorporated into state law pertaining to the practice of psychology.

 Bellah v. Greenson. 81 CAL App. 3d 614 (1978).

 Case law that delineates a psychologist’s responsibility to take reasonable steps to prevent a patient from committing suicide.

Cal. Code of Civil Procedure §1985.3.

Specifies that if the consumer, meaning our client, is notified by mail at the last known address that records are being sought, we must produce the records by the date of the subpoena with or without an authorization.  The subject of the subpoena must file a formal challenge with the courts to either quash or modify the subpoena to prevent records release.

Cal. Evidence Code §1012-§1027.

Provides the legal basis for confidentiality by specifying that communications between a psychotherapist (‘psychologist’) and client are privileged.  Also states that under most circumstances the client is the holder of the privilege. 

Cal. Government Code §1031(f).

Mandates that peace officers shall be free of any physical, emotional, or mental condition that might adversely affect the exercise of the powers of a peace officer.  This is one of the bases for directed referrals.

Cal. Penal Code §11164 & §15610.

Mandates child abuse and elder/dependent abuse reporting for psychologists and other mandated reporters.

Cal. Welfare and Institutions Code §5150.

Provides for the involuntary hospitalization of individuals who demonstrate danger to self or others and grave disability.

Ewing v. Goldstein. 120 CA. App. 4th 807 (2004).

This case law is an extension of previous cases related to “duty protect” and guides the psychologist to consider communications from those close to the patient as if the patient themselves communicated the serious threat of harm.    

 Los Angeles Police Department Manual, LAPD – 3/799 ff.

Department manual section that provides for directed and mandated referrals. 

 Pettus v. Cole. 49 Cal.App. 4th 402 (1996).

Case law that guides  what information can be shared with an employer by a psychologist when the employee is ordered to see a psychologist for evaluation.

Record Keeping Guidelines: Approved as American Psychological Association Policy by the American Psychological Association Council of Representatives. (2009). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Provides guidance for psychologist’s record keeping.

 Tarasoff v. Regents of the University of California. §43.92 17 CA. 3d 425 (1976).

Case law that mandates that a duty to protect exists when the psychologist develops the belief that there is a serious threat of harm by the patient against an identifiable victim (s) and that reasonable steps must be taken to warn the victim(s).