Thursday, February 14, 2008

Mandatory Reporting...more thoughts on Sophie

Okay, I'm still talking about this TV show, the blog post is a response to comments on yesterday's In Treatment episode on Sophie. Please, remember it's fiction.

In Maryland, the law is that mental health professionals must report any child abuse issues. It doesn't matter if it happened 40 years ago, if it happened in another state, if the perpetrator is dead, this is either the law, or the attorney general's interpretation of it, and it's how mental health professionals operate. Okay, it can be silly, I'm not a detective, I'm just telling you law. And on the information sheet I give patients, it has a line that says that there are laws regarding confidentiality and issues of child abuse.

The Sophie issue is more clearcut-- this is recent sexual activity of an adult with a child and the adult continues to have contact with her and with other children. No issue legally. I won't comment on the therapeutic ramifications about trust, because, well, there's no legal ambivalence here. For those who aren't watching the show: Sophie lived with her gymnastics coach for a while, for months his wife was out of state, she cared for their child, had a relationship with coach, slept with him (mentioned that before they had sex, everyone assumed they were), and after the session, Paul calls her mother to ask her to come in.

Throughout the session, Sophie looks childlike and younger than her stated age. I believe the TV folks did this on purpose.

Here are my thoughts:
--Paul should have told Sophie that he's obligated to report this. Yup, given that she loves the coach, this probably would have ended the therapeutic relationship, but preserving the therapeutic relationship is not the most important thing in the world. Remember, this is the coach who picked her up from her last therapy session.
--Paul should not have called Mom without discussing it with Sophie.
--Do we believe this? Kid lives with coach, her parents allow this, his wife is away for 6 months, everyone thinks they've been having sex, which they do, and coach the pedophile-criminal transport kid to therapy where she may snitch on him and get him locked up for years?
It would be interesting to see what Sophie said when Paul told her he had to report it.
Next week, perhaps?

And I have wondered if the show is taking place in the DC suburbs.

I'm still thinking about my response to ClinkShrink's last post.