Assessing violence risk in Tarasoff situations: a fact-based model of inquiry

Behav Sci Law. 2001;19(3):375-85. doi: 10.1002/bsl.447.


Although significant advances in risk assessment research and practice have been made in recent years, there has not been any analysis in the professional literature regarding how and whether the emerging practice recommendations apply in Tarasoff-type situations. We suggest that, when faced with a Tarasoff-type situation, the appraisal of risk should be guided by a method that is primarily fact-based and deductive, rather than by the more inductive risk assessment approach for general violence recidivism, which is guided primarily by base rates and historical risk factors. We review the principles underlying a fact-based, or threat assessment, approach and outline six areas of inquiry that can guide the appraisal of risk: A-attitudes that support or facilitate violence, C-capacity, T-thresholds crossed, I-intent, O-other's reactions, and N-noncompliance with risk reduction interventions.

MeSH terms

  • Duty to Warn* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Humans
  • Michigan
  • Psychotherapy / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Violence*