This month’s free law and ethics practice question will focus on a topic that could appear on your exam, but one you may not have encountered yet in your clinical practice. It is not uncommon to receive questions relating to the topic of conservatorships, along with comments such as, “I have never worked with a conservator, so this topic is confusing for me.”
Here are some common questions:
- Who can be a conservator?
- What is the process of becoming a conservator?
- Why would someone need a conservator?
- What rights do a conservatee/conservator hold?
Let’s test your knowledge on the subject of conservatorships, and provide a bit of information that will help you tackle questions pertaining to this topic.
Let’s see how you do!
A therapist receives a call from an individual who explains that the court recently appointed them conservator of their 35-year-old sister. The conservator explains that the sister has a history of mental health issues, including major depression with psychotic episodes. The conservator notes a desire to attend therapy sessions with the sibling to ensure treatment is beneficial. What are the legal responsibilities of the therapist in this case?
A. Request a copy of the court documentation to determine the type of conservatorship and powers granted to conservator.
B. Schedule an initial session with the conservator and conservatee to receive informed consent and begin family therapy.
C. Schedule an initial session with the conservator and conservatee to receive informed consent and explore most appropriate modality of treatment.
D. Schedule an intake session for family therapy and request court documentation to determine conservator’s powers.
(scroll down for the correct answer)
The correct answer is A.
The question is specifically asking about legal responsibilities. Therefore, you can easily eliminate any answers that are ethical in nature.
Answer C includes an ethical component, “explore most appropriate modality of treatment,” and can be eliminated.
Answers B and D assume family therapy will be the modality of treatment. This is incorrect. Regardless of the type of conservatorship, a conservatee still has a right to engage in the decision-making process regarding modality of treatment—whether or not they want family members or their conservator to attend sessions.
The best answer is A. The option provided in Answer A will often be the best starting point when working with a conservatorship. Court documents will provide the therapist with a clear understanding of the conservator and conservatee’s rights. The court documents will clearly indicate if the conservator can make health decisions for the conservatee, if they are responsible for fees, and their level of involvement over the course of treatment.
How did you do on this question? Does the correct answer and rationale align with your understanding of mental health conservatorship, or did you learn something new? If you have any additional questions, you are welcome to check in with a TDC coach. Our coaches are here to answer your questions and provide support and guidance as you prepare to PASS your law and ethics exam with confidence!
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