Civil Commitment and the Mental Health Care Continuum: Historical Trends and Principles for Law and Practice (2 credit hours)

Program Summary:  This course examines involuntary civil commitment in the US and includes a history of civil commitment and the evolving standards for civil commitment. Four ethical principles are examined:  respect for autonomy, maleficence, beneficence. and justice.  Ethical arguments and counterarguments are given (e.g. civil commitment limits autonomy vs civil commitment restores autonomy for the longer term.)  Key legislation is explained and concepts of parens patriae, dangerousness, grave disability, and serious deterioration are discussed.

This course is recommended for social workers and is appropriate for beginning and intermediate levels of practice.  This course does not qualify for NBCC ethics credit.

“Book  Open the Course Reading Here.

Publisher:  The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Course Objectives:  To enhance professional practice, values, skills, and knowledge by identifying key ethical principles related to civil commitment.

Learning Objectives:  Describe the evolving standards for civil commitment.  Identify Beauchamp and Childress’ four main ethical principles and describe how each of these principles apply to involuntary commitment.  Give examples of ethical arguments and counterarguments as related to civil commitment.

Review our pre-reading study guide.

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1: Today, all but about __________ of care is provided in settings other than large state hospitals.
2: In 1951, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) released a "draft Act Governing Hospitalization of the Mentally Il," calling for commitment decision-making to be returned to
3: By the end of the 1970's, practically every state had revised its commitment law to require ___________ as grounds for commitment.
4: Which of the following describes parens patriae power?
5: In Addington v Texas, the US Supreme Court adopted which standard for commitment?
6: Which of the following forces shaped deinstitutionalization?
7: Standards and procedures for civil commitment have __________ considerably since the 1970's.
8: Which of the following best describes grave disability?
9: Inpatient commitment law today consists of several component parts.  Which of the following components is required in every state?
10: By the latter decades of the twentieth century, a common clinical pattern involved
11: Court-mandated community treatment laws and programs emerged beginning in the
12: An AOT order can only be as effective as the treatment plan that it authorizes and the capacity of the local mental health care system to provide the services described in the plan.
13: Under a preventive outpatient commitment law, a person with mental illness could be ordered to community treatment on the basis of
14: Research evidence has shown a _____________ link between mental illness and any violent behavior.
15: A 2015 APA position statement on outpatient commitment asserts that involuntary outpatient commitment, if systematically implemented and resourced, can be
16: Which of the following questions examines the principle of autonomy?
17: A seriously mentally ill person's ability to make reliable decisions in their own best interests is already impaired, preventing them from pursuing important life goals.  This statement would be a counter argument to a(n) __________-based critique of outpatient commitment.
18: Which of the following questions examines the principle of non-maleficence?
19: Several studies have examined the comparative preferences of individuals enrolled in outpatient commitment programs.  Results showed that a significant percentage (the majority) regarded the experience as
20: "Benign medical paternalism' implicity privileges
21: One's chances of experiencing or avoiding commitment could depend largely on what state one happens to live in.  This example would challenge the ethical principle of _______________.
22: An overrepresentation of a minority group among persons under outpatient commitment challenges the ethical principle of __________________.

In order to purchase or take this course, you will need to log in. If you do not have an account, you will need to register for a free account.

After you log in, a link will appear here that will allow you to purchase this course.


Free State Social Work, LLC, provider #1235, is approved as an ACE provider to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Regulatory boards are the final authority on courses accepted for continuing education credit. ACE provider approval period: 9/6/2021 - 9/6/2024. Social workers completing this course receive 2 ethics continuing education credits.

Free State Social Work has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP NO. 6605. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. Free State Social Work is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs.

G.M. Rydberg-Cox, MSW, LSCSW is the Continuing Education Director at Free State Social Work and responsible for the development of this course.  She received her Masters of Social Work in 1996 from the Jane Addams School of Social Work at the University of Illinois-Chicago and she has over 20 years of experience.  She has lived and worked as a social worker in Chicago, Boston, and Kansas City.  She currently practices in the area of hospital/medical social work.  The reading materials for this course were developed by another organization.