We aim to educate the next generation of mental healthcare practitioners in ethics.

The ethical challenges inherent in delivering mental healthcare continue to increase in number and complexity. The ScattergoodEthics Program helps to prepare practitioners-in-training for ethical challenges they might face in their clinical practices or research. We offer courses in the Penn Master of Bioethics Program and supervise residents and post-doctoral fellows who are pursuing advanced training and scholarly research.


The University of Pennsylvania Master of Bioethics (MBE) is an interdisciplinary degree offered by the renowned Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy. The MBE degree program gives students broad exposure to the full range of topics and issues in contemporary bioethics. Ethics in Mental Healthcare is among the many courses offered.

Bioethics Certificate Program (for Psychiatry Residents)

The Bioethics certificate program provides interested residents with opportunities to engage in scholarly work in behavioral health care ethics. Specific topics could include the ethics of re-categorization of mental disorders, capacity and involuntary treatment, research involving mentally ill participants, confidentiality and the duty to warn and protect, and ethical issues related to correctional and forensic psychiatry. Trainees need not have a background in applied ethics or biomedical ethics.

Online Education

Tarasoff Duties
This course offers an overview of the legal and ethical issues pertaining to a therapist’s duty to warn and protect in cases where a patient may commit violence. It begins with a discussion of the 1968 case of Tatiana Tarasoff, which established legal precedent for a duty to warn. Then, using illustrative examples and interview material, it surveys how different states implement the duty to warn and protect, provides a framework for determining when and how to intervene with a potentially violent patient, and offers ethical guidance for balancing confidentiality with the safety of patients’ potential victims.

Research with Vulnerable Populations
This learning activity provides an overview of ethical and regulatory principles of research with participants perceived as vulnerable. Learners will review definitions of vulnerability, relevant regulations in the United States, and their implications for special protections among various populations, including: Children, pregnant women and fetuses, prisoners, cognitively impaired persons, patients in emergency settings. 

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