Scattergood Ethics

Dangerousness & Involuntary Treatment: An Applied Ethics Workshop

Event Date: 
Wednesday, March 19 2014 8:30 am - 4:00 pm
University of Pennsylvania, Claudia Cohen Hall, Terrace Room


What is the relationship between mental illness and violence? When is a person with a mental illness a danger to self or the public? What are the professional responsibilities of behavioral healthcare practitioners in determining dangerousness and committing patients to treatment?  In the wake of several national tragedies, these questions loom large; ethics, legal and clinical experts will address them in this workshop.  

Continuing education credits will be available for clinical psychologists, social workers, and attorneys*.   


At the conclusion of this conference, participants should be able to:

1.     Discuss the clinical, ethical, and legal dimensions of assessing dangerousness for patients with mental illness.

2.     Describe the ethical and legal dimensions of outpatient commitment.

3.     Discuss the ethical challenges of balancing public safety and patient autonomy.



Registration & Coffee


Greetings & Introductions
(Dominic Sisti & Candice Player)


“Danger and Disorder: Requiring Treatment to Attenuate Risk”
(John Monahan)




“Diagnosing Dangerousness: Public Safety vs. Patient Autonomy”
(Robert Sadoff)


Duty to Warn, Duty to Protect: A View from the APA Ethics Office”
(Stephen Behnke)


Catered Lunch


“Outpatient Commitment: The Ethics of Involuntary Mental Health Treatment”
(Candice Player)




“Ethics in Assertive Community Treatment: An International Perspective”
(John Maher)


Panel Q&A & Wrap Up
(Dominic Sisti)


Stephen H. Behnke, JD, PhD is director of the Ethics Office at the American Psychological Association. He received his J.D. from Yale Law School and his PhD. in clinical psychology from the University of Michigan. In 1996, Behnke was made chief psychologist of the Day Hospital Unit at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center, a position he held until 1998, when he was named a faculty fellow in Harvard University’s program in Ethics and the Professions. After completing this fellowship, Behnke directed a program in research integrity in the Division of Medical Ethics at Harvard Medical School. In November of 2000, Behnke assumed the position of director of ethics at the American Psychological Association. He holds an appointment in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Behnke co-leads an ethics discussion group at the meetings of the American Psychoanalytic Association and has consulted to various psychoanalytic institutes regarding issues of ethics and law. Behnke’s research interests focus on issues at the convergence of law, ethics, and psychology. He has written on multiple personality disorder and the insanity defense, on issues involving competence and informed consent to treatment and research, on forced treatment of the severely mentally ill, and on state laws relevant to the work of mental health practitioners. 

John Maher, MD has been an Assertive Community Treatment Team consulting psychiatrist for several years. Prior to that he worked at a busy community hospital doing adult and emergency psychiatry and running a day treatment program for patients with personality disorders. He did his medical training at McMaster University, his psychiatry residency at the University of Ottawa, and he is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. He has a BA (hons) in philosophy and an MA with specialization in medical ethics; he did an additional 4 years of graduate work in medical ethics with a special focus on competency issues. He taught philosophy at the University of Ottawa and the University of Western Ontario, and he taught mental health ethics to residents in psychiatry at the University of Ottawa.  Dr. Maher was founder and Executive Director of the Trillium Childhood Cancer Support Centre, founding board member of the Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation, Assistant Director of the National Cancer Control Task Force, Executive Director of Cancer Canada, and founder and Executive Director of FACE AIDS. He serves on the editorial committee for the Journal of Ethics in Mental Health at McMaster University. He continues to have a particular interest in the care of persons with chronic and terminal illness.

John Monahan, PhD, a psychologist, joined the University of Virginia Law School faculty in 1980. He currently holds the John S. Shannon Distinguished Professorship in Law. Monahan is the author or editor of 15 books and has written more than 200 articles and chapters. One of those books, Social Science in Law, co-authored by Larry Walker, is entering its seventh edition and has just been published in Chinese. Two of his other books won the Manfred Guttmacher Award of the American Psychiatric Association for outstanding research in law and psychiatry: The Clinical Prediction of Violent Behavior in 1982 and (with others) Rethinking Risk Assessment in 2002. His articles have been published in theYale Law Journal and the Virginia, University of Pennsylvania, California, Iowa, and Southern California law reviews.

Candice Player, JD, PhD is the inaugural Stephanie and Michael Naidoff Fellow in Health Policy, Law and Medicine in the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the Perelman School of Medicine and University of Pennsylvania Law School.  Candice graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College in 2002 with an AB in Ethics and Health Policy.  Candice holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School and a Ph.D. in Ethics and Health Policy, from Harvard University. In 2003 she earned an M.Phil. in Criminology from Cambridge University, where her research addressed the use of civil commitment to restrain dangerous offenders preventively and indefinitely, both in the United Kingdom and the United States.  Her current scholarly research examines competence to refuse mental health treatment as well as efforts to leverage treatment adherence among people with mental illnesses, foremost among them—preventive outpatient commitment programs and housing tied to treatment compliance.  As a Naidoff Fellow, her research continues to address important questions arising at the intersections of public health, mental health law and ethics.  

Robert L. Sadoff, MD is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Director, Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship Program and Division of Forensic Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He is board certified in psychiatry, forensic psychiatry, and legal medicine, and has added qualifications in forensic psychiatry with the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.  Dr. Sadoff is the author of over 100 articles in medical and legal journals, more than 30 chapters in other books, and has authored, edited, or coauthored 8 books, including Forensic Psychiatry: A Practical Guide for Lawyers and Psychiatrists, Psychiatry Malpractice: Cases, Comments for Clinicians and Mental Health Experts: Roles and Qualifications for Court, and Ethical Issues in Forensic Psychiatry: Minimizing Harm. Dr. Sadoff has examined over 10,000 individuals charged with crimes during the past 40 years, and has testified for both the prosecution and defense in criminal cases and for the plaintiff and defense in civil cases in approximately 20 states and several federal jurisdictions.  Dr. Sadoff is the recipient of numerous awards, including Best Doctors in America, Who's Who in the World, The Lifetime Achievement Award of the Philadelphia Psychiatric Society, the Nathaniel Winkelman Award, the Manfred Guttmacher Award from the American Psychiatric Association, the Philippe Pinel Award from the International Academy of Law and Mental Health, and the prestigious Isaac Ray Award from the American Psychiatric Association. He has also received the Earl Bond Award from the University of Pennsylvania as the Outstanding Teacher in Psychiatry for 1979, and the Dean's Award for Outstanding Contributions to Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School for 2008.

Dominic A. Sisti, PhD is assistant professor and director of the Scattergood Program for the Applied Ethics of Behavioral Healthcare in the Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy. He holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Psychiatry. Sisti's current research examines the ethical and philosophical dimensions of the concept of mental disorder, with a particular focus on personality disorders. He has written, taught, and presented papers on issues related to the philosophy and ethics of behavioral healthcare, clinical bioethics and research ethics. He is an editor of three books; his most recent is Applied Ethics in Mental Healthcare (with Caplan & Rimon-Greenspan).


Katherine Buckley provides administrative support to the ScattergoodEthics Program as well as to other initiatives in the Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy, including the Penn Fellowship in Medical Ethics. Ms. Buckley is a graduate of Villanova University (2009) and holds a bachelor’s degree in English.

Andrea Segal, MS is a research associate with the ScattergoodEthics Program and a research coordinator with the Center for Mood & Anxiety Disorders in the Penn Department of Psychiatry. She earned her BA in Psychology and Government from Cornell University, and her MS in Experimental Psychology from Drexel University. Her Master's thesis investigated whether certain ways of thinking and reacting to everyday problems (social problem solving) and public and self-stigma predict attitudes towards seeking medical care and psychological care among Veterans. She has worked as a research assistant and research coordinator at the University of Pennsylvania in various clinical areas including mood and anxiety, insomnia, and autism. Her research interests now include the social stigma of mental illness and individual, community, and system-level barriers to accessing mental health care.

*CLE Credits

Attorneys who wish to obtain CLE credits for this workshop must bring a separate check made payable to the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania. The fee is $60 ($30 for public interest lawyers) in addition to the cost of registration.

Directions & Parking

All sessions will be held in Claudia Cohen Hall, Terrace Room.  

Parking is available in lots on or near Penn's campus:

Parking fees are not included in the registration fee.

The Pennsylvania State Board of Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counselors will accept any credit for a course approved by the American Psychological Association pursuant to Section 47.36(a)(6)(ix). The State Board will accept 6 continuing education credits for this course.

Psychology: The Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists.  The Department of Psychiatry University of Pennsylvania maintains responsibility for this program and its content. You may earn up to 6 CE credits for full participation in the workshop. 

CLE CreditsThis program has been approved for 6.0 ethics credits for Pennsylvania lawyers. CLE credits may be available in other jurisdictions as well. Attendees seeking CLE credit must bring a separate payment of $60.00 ($30.00 public interest attorneys) in the form of a check made payable to "The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania."

Cancellation and Refund Policy Statement: The ScattergoodEthics Program reserve the right to cancel or postpone any course due to any unforeseen circumstances.  In the event of cancellation or postponement, the ScattergoodEthics Program will refund any registration fee but it is not responsible for any related costs, charges, or any expenses to participants, including cancellation costs incurred by airlines/travel agencies.  In order to process refunds for event withdrawals, written notification of cancellation must be received two weeks prior to the event (subject to a service fee).  No refunds will be granted thereafter.

Special Needs Statement: If special arrangements are required for an individual with a disability to attend this meeting, please contact Katherine Buckley at 215-573-9378. or at, so they can make the necessary arrangements, no later than two weeks prior to the event date.

Nondiscrimination Statement: The University of Pennsylvania values diversity and seeks talented students, faculty, and staff from diverse backgrounds.  The University of Pennsylvania does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, color, national or ethnic origin, age, disability or status as a Vietnam Era Veteran or disabled veteran in the administration of educational policies, programs or activities, admission policies; scholarship and loan awards; athletic or other administered programs or employment.  Questions or complaints regarding this policy should be directed to the Executive Director, Office of Affirmative Action, 1133 Blockley Hall, Philadelphia, PA  19104-6021 or 215/898-6993 (Voice) or 215/898-7803 (TDD).