Mandatory reporting of child abuse has been introduced in Ireland as a way of identifying cases of child maltreatment on the basis that otherwise they would remain hidden. The current study seeks to explore how mandatory reporting is viewed by therapists and mandatory reporting within the therapeutic relationship.
Aim: The aim of this research was to explore psychotherapists’ experiences and challenges in relation to mandatory reporting and whether or not it impacts on clinical practice. Method: A qualitative approach was used and semi-structured interviews were conducted with four experienced and accredited psychotherapists. These participants were chosen due to their knowledge and experience working with survivors of child abuse. The data that emerged was analysed using thematic analysis. Findings: Four main themes emerged from the analysis: how therapists feel about mandatory reporting, disruption to treatment process due to mandatory reporting, the need for protection of adult clients making retrospective disclosures and the ineffectiveness of the process of mandatory reporting. Conclusion: The needs of all survivors must to be taken into account when dealing with abuse. A more holistic approach needs be implemented to ensure their needs are met. The strengthening of support systems is required. The literature lacked in the area of psychotherapist’s views and feelings around mandatory reporting. Further research was suggested in the area of mandatory reporting in Ireland as a whole and in particular into the impact of mandatory reporting on adult survivors of child abuse needs to be addressed so that Irish society does not continue to fail these individuals. Author keywords: Mandatory reporting, psychotherapy, therapeutic relationship