Emeritus Professor Donald Bersoff weighed in on a controversial new California law that requires therapists to report patients who disclose an interest in child pornography, in a Los Angeles Times article published on July 14.
Bersoff said the law, which requires psychologists and counselors to alert police about clients’ interest in child pornography, could discourage patients from getting help they need to address a serious problem.
"You would hope that there would be some place that a patient would feel safe to talk about their urges, their fears and their concerns," Bersoff said. "But slowly, the confidentiality of therapy is being eroded."
Before the law was enacted in January, therapists were required to notify police only if they suspected that patients were developing, duplicating, printing or exchanging child pornography. Previous California law was silent on the topic of viewing or downloading pornographic material from the Internet.
Bersoff, the past president of the American Psychological Association, edited the landmark “Ethical Conflicts in Psychology,” which is now in its fourth edition.