Thursday, March 17, 2005

A Conflict of Interest for JFJ Psychologists?

For many years, Jews for Jesus has been sending some of their employees to see psychologists who have some kind of a relationship with the JFJ organization. For example, one psychologist who is retained in this way sits on the Board of Directors of Jews for Jesus. Another is a regular donor to JFJ.

I believe that this is a conflict of interest. To whom does the psychologist or therapist have loyalty? To his patient or to Jews for Jesus? Whomever the psychologist chooses to give his loyalty to (and I suspect that it always goes to Jews for Jesus, especially if they are the ones paying him), there would seem to be a conflict of interest. Although breaking patient confidentiality is a violation of California law for a psychologist or psychotherapist, I can't help but wonder if psychologists retained by Jews for Jesus have passed on private information to the leadership of JFJ.

But, you might ask, what if the patient signed a waiver or release of confidentiality form? Doesn't that give the psychologist the right to tell Jews for Jesus anything that they learn about the patient? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

Among psychotherapists there is an ethical problem called "dual relationships." This is where the therapist and the patient have more than one relationship with each other, such as being friends or business associates or some other kind of relationship. The legal issue of confidentiality may be overcome by the patient signing a release form. But the ethical issue of dual relationships remains. A therapist is supposed to avoid dual relationships, because these kinds of relationships get in the way of therapeutic progress and hinder positive growth for the patient. Of course, sometimes there is no way to avoid a dual relationship, but when this happens, the therapist is supposed to refer the patient to another therapist.

It appears that Jews for Jesus loves to create these dual relationships, and not just in the arena of psychotherapy. Any kind of blurring of the boundaries for JFJ is a good thing, because then their ethical and moral lapses become more ambiguous and less clear to everyone involved.

No comments: