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.


Anonymous said...

i would believe anything. of course this is fiction, a tv show,not even a great one, but in real life the guy would have to report to children's services. and in real life, real parents have been known to let their kids move in with coaches who have gone on to abuse them and in real life some parents either do not care or don't want to know. in real life, anything can and does happen.

Sarebear said...

I haven't read all the responses to the Sophie episode and on, but I suspect Paul wants to fact-check with the mother (ie, does the mother see/say Sophie is out of the house enough to match up with how much Sophie says she's over at the coach's, etc., among other things), because the teen could be (I don't think she is) lying.

I suspect no matter what the mom says he has to report it, but wouldn't asking the mom about stuff possibly clarify or help with such a repot?

possibly not, since the mom seems to have a not good relationship with the kid (doesn't support her gymnastics, and I don't think it's because of Cy, I think it's because she doesn't support her daughter's interests or achievements; what kind of mother wouldn't be proud of an Olympic hopeful? geez.) Actualy, the mom might deny everything and say Sophie is not gone that much and paint her as a liar, because the mom might feel threatened by this Cy thing in a selfish way, ie, geez, everyone will think I'm a bad mom (um, duh . .. you let your daghter stay over there). That's the kind of mom that Sophie's mom comes across to me as . . . .

Good points about how Paul should have mentioned that there are things he is required to report, etc. Also that he should have discused calling her mother . . . especially since I suspect tht will cause nth degree of problems for Sophie, even though it's necessary, I think, to call the mom.

I thnk the mom needs therapy herself, and maybe the show will have some of that happen during a period when Sophie is too angry to come back, or something . . . .

Yes, fiction, but as you say, a springboard for discussion of issues.

Oh, I've had a death in the family (a grandfather, he chose not to be or act like my grandfather yet the two times in the last decade I've seen him he calls my daughter over, as if he has gret-grandparental "rights", as if he can be so proud in a sort of ownership kind of way (ie, shes he's descendant), of his great-grandchild - I wish I had been strong enough to say, How Dare You? You haven't been a Grandpa to me, don't go all acting like my child is one of "yours" in the way of great-grandchildren. I'm surprised I thought I'd have no tears, but last night I did, when I identified that I was crying for the grandpa he chose not to be; that he chose to NOT be or act like my grandpa.

Anyway, mix that in with a major medicaton change (which I'm scared about, but the unknown scares me), having to think about things of more than a small distance in terms of wheelchairs, and who the hell knows. Just saying I may be kinda wierd for awhile (um, like I'm not already?)

Sarebear said...

GAH! All those typos. That is SO not me.