Date of Award


Degree Name



College of Liberal Arts

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Marty Amerikaner

Second Advisor

Chris LeGrow

Third Advisor

Joseph Wyatt


The Tarasoff decisions regarding the duties to third parties were profoundly significant to the practice of psychology and counseling. Despite this, there have been few studies regarding the impact on these decisions on clinical practice. There are essentially three sources of data regarding the analysis of any Tarasoff-related clinical scenario. They include state statutes, court case law and the professional ethics codes. Most of the limited studies conducted have indicated serious knowledge gaps with respect to relevant state statues and the essence of the Tarasoff duties. This study evaluated West Virginia therapists’ knowledge of Tarasoff-related court cases. It was hypothesized that the overall knowledge level of the original Tarasoff decisions and the subsequent Tarasoff court cases would be low. Furthermore, it was hypothesized that there would be no differences between measured accuracy rates of court cases and practitioner’s discipline, years of experiences, or continuing educational experiences. With some moderate exceptions, all hypotheses were verified. The overall knowledge and understanding by respondents regarding Tarasoff- related court cases was low even though their overall levels of confidence about their knowledge were relatively high. Furthermore, respondents revealed a fundamental misunderstanding about judicial imperatives and their impact on other jurisdictions and professional codes of ethics. The implications of these findings were discussed in terms of risk management, supervision and consultation.


Psychology - Ethics.

Clinical psychology.