Ethics in psychiatric practice: essential ethics skills, informed consent, the therapeutic relationship, and confidentiality.
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Psychiatrists routinely encounter ethical complexities in caring for patients with mental illness, and they are held to the highest levels of accountability in their ethical practices. In this article, the authors first outline skills that are essential to ethical psychiatric practice. They then articulate three domains of clinical and ethical practice that represent the foundation of clinical care for people with mental illness: informed consent, the therapeutic relationship, and confidentiality. Key concepts concerning these domains are presented and relevant empirical evidence concerning each domain is reviewed. An understanding of these clinical and ethical practices will help psychiatrists serve patients with mental illness in their everyday clinical activities in a manner that is respectful, engenders trust, and ultimately fosters optimal clinical care.