Chapter 11: The Social Work Record and the Courts


Additional Recommended Readings


Cumming, S., E. Fitzpatrick, D. McAuliffe, S. McCain, C. Martin, and A. Tonge (2007). Raising the Titanic: Rescuing Social Work Documentation from the Sea of Ethical Risk. Australian Social Work, 60(2), 239–257. Retrieved from http://home.apu.edu/~ksetterlund/2012-2013/Articles/Cumming,%20et%20al%20-%20Raising%20the%20Titanic%20-%20Rescuing%20SW%20Documentation.pdf.

This article examines the importance of good documentation in social work practice from a risk management and ethical risk perspective, and makes recommendations for improving documentation.


Kahn, M.W., S.K. Bell, J. Walker. and T. Delbanco (2014). Opinion: Let’s Show Patients Their Mental Health Record. Journal of the American Medical Association, 311(13), 1291–1292. Retrieved from http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1853164.

This article discusses the benefits associated with physicians providing patients with access to their mental health records.


Relevant Legislation


Federal: http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en


Alberta: www.qp.alberta.ca/laws_online.cfm


British Columbia: www.bclaws.ca


Manitoba: web2.gov.mb.ca/laws/index.php


New Brunswick: www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/departments/attorney_general/acts_regulations.html


Newfoundland and Labrador: www.assembly.nl.ca/Legislation


Nova Scotia: nslegislature.ca/legc/

  • Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, S.N.S. 1993, c. 5

Ontario: www.e-laws.gov.on.ca


Prince Edward Island: www.gov.pe.ca/law/statutesa


Quebec: www3.publicationsduquebec.gouv.qc.ca/loisreglements.en.html


Saskatchewan: www.qp.gov.sk.ca


Northwest Territories: www.justice.gov.nt.ca/legislation/search


Nunavut: www.justice.gov.nu.ca


Yukon Territory: www.gov.yk.ca/legislation/


Discussion Questions


  1. What is a social worker’s obligation to ensure the confidentiality of the clinical record and under what circumstances will the social worker be required to reveal the record?
  2. What precautions should a social worker take in preparing clinical records in order to ensure that clients’ rights are protected?
  3. How might a social worker best prepare for a court appearance?
  4. What are the ethical obligations of social workers when preparing assessments for the courts?