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date: 27 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The practice of forensic psychiatry varies greatly. Common to all forms of practice is a constant and overt conflict of loyalties, dual agency, which always carries the potential of causing harm—exacerbated by the fact that most involved individuals are compelled to undergo forensic assessments or treatments. Perhaps the core functions of the forensic psychiatrist are to determine a diagnosis, the degree of severity of the disorder, and to make a risk assessment, particularly of future violent or criminal behavior. Another possible role is to be an advocate for the welfare of those they assess and treat. Unfortunately, the evidence base for these core functions is sparse, and generally consists of value judgments. Forensic practice ought to take cognizance of the affordances of values-based practice. It may be possible to ameliorate harm by the practice of disclosure, by adopting a sensitive if not therapeutic manner, and perhaps by adopting the role of advocate.

Keywords: forensic psychiatry, dual agency, values-based practice, disclosure, advocate

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