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Book Forum: LAW AND ETHICS   |    
Law and Mental Health Professionals: Kentucky
Am J Psychiatry 2005;162:2202-a-2203. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.162.11.2202-a
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Harrisonburg, Va.

By Eric Y. Drogin, J.D., Ph.D. Washington, D.C., American Psychological Association, 2004, 367 pp., $99.95.

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This volume takes its place as the 23rd in a series that is planned, eventually, to acquaint mental health professionals in each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the federal jurisdictions with a comprehensive yet concise outline and review of the laws that affect these professionals in each respective jurisdiction.

The author has identified and summarized the legal and regulatory issues that have an impact on mental health practice in Kentucky—each broad topic identified is a chapter in the book. Each chapter both describes the specific legal and/or regulatory standards currently in force and outlines the specific areas in which the mental health professional can legally carry out his professional responsibilities. Inasmuch as this volume constitutes, specifically, an identification and brief discussion of the laws and regulations governing the conduct and practice of mental health professionals in the state of Kentucky, it will prove to be most relevant to the mental health professional working in that state. The sources of state law reviewed in the book include the Kentucky State Constitution as well as state statutes, administrative rules, judicial decisions, and judicial rules.

The editors note that this series is conceptualized as an easily accessible resource for mental health professionals who do not "know about, much less understand, most of the laws that affect their practice, the services they provide, and the clients they serve." This volume corrects that lack of knowledge by providing a concise and easily readable overview of the current laws and regulations affecting the professional life and work of mental health professionals practicing in the state of Kentucky.

The legal topics covered in this book are organized along a continuum, beginning with a summary of the laws and regulations that cover licensure and certification, third-party reimbursement, and professional incorporation. This is followed by a review of the different issues at the legal-behavioral science interface: the areas in which mental health professionals are asked to provide such services as evaluations of the mental status of litigants, the preparation and presentation of expert testimony in court, and the delivery of psychotherapy services to court-referred juveniles and adults. The more indirect ways in which the mental health professional can be involved and in which mental status issues are, on occasion, prominent (e.g., divorce proceedings or termination of parental rights) are also identified and summarized.

In addition to providing a good reference compendium of the laws and regulations in force in the state of Kentucky (current as of February 2004), this volume also represents a contribution to an ongoing series that the editors envision as establishing a database for comparative interjurisdictional studies. The planned database will "allow for nationally oriented policy studies to identify the variety of legal approaches that are currently in use nationwide and to assess the validity of the behavioral assumptions underlying each variant and, ultimately, lead to a conclusion as to the relative desirability of alternate approaches." This process could be useful in improving future laws in the interests of increasing the effective delivery of high-quality mental health services.




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