Informed consent with people judged incapable of legally consenting

Informed consent with people judged incapable of legally consenting
Amy Bittick, Ryan Holliman
Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities, 6 April 2023
The purpose of this study is to consider informed consent with those who may be legally judged incapable of consent. Frequently individuals with traumatic brain injuries and intellectual disabilities may fall into this category. This paper seeks to consider aspects of guardianship, moral and legal implications and best practices for mental health professionals.
This practice piece reviews literature regarding informed consent, as well as pertinent issues in the professional literature regarding types of guardianship as well as the occurrence of “Lucid intervals.” Furthermore, literature from moral philosophy and current legal research was examined to fully provide readers with a grasp of the legal and ethical landscape of this issue.
The paper finds that treating consent as a one-time binary event is lacking in both practicality and nuance. Moral philosophy and issues regarding paternalism are raised, as well as practice approaches to assessment of capability and how to engage in therapy in meaningful ways.
This paper provides insight into providing dignity-affirming therapy with a population that is often not considered in the literature of mental health ethics. When it is considered, the suggestions are so vague as to be of limited use. This manuscript provides nuance and practical applications to be a therapist that promotes dignity in those who might have varying levels of capacity to consent.

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