Continuing Education & Resources for Mental Health Professionals


Listed in alphabetical order below are some of the workshops that have been presented in the past by The Center For Ethical Practice.  If you would like us to conduct a workshop for your agency, organization, or practice group, you may want to review these topics, as well as those on the “Upcoming Workshops” page, to see which one best fits your training needs. 
  • Applying Virginia’s Legal Standards in Your Own Practice

    This workshop is for Virginia psychologists. It is based on an Ethical/Legal Practice Manual, written by Dr. Fisher and published by the Virginia Academy of Clinical Psychologists (VACP), which integrates the APA Ethics Code, Virginia Board of Psychology Practice Standards, Virginia Statutes, and Federal HIPAA Regulations. (This website also contains an order form for the 2010 Edition of that Practice Manual.)

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  • . . . “. . . but everybody does it !”
    Following the Crowd vs. Creating Your Own Ethical Policies

    Whose advice are you hearing as you develop your policies for clinical practice? Who are your ethical models for deciding how to handle such important things as billing for third party reimbursement, clinical boundaries, or informed consent? What policies protect your clients in the “dual/multiple relationships” of couple/family cases? What is your policy about disclosing information if you don’t have the client’s explicit consent?

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  • 6 Temptations

    In certain areas of clinical practice, we are at risk for “crossing the line” into unethical or unprofessional actions — sometimes in minor ways, sometimes in ways that put patients – and thus ourselves – at risk. We will illustrate some problematic areas of practice with examples from Virginia licensing board cases and with video […]

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  • Acculturation & Competence

    Monitoring Our Professional Acculturation & Creating a Competent Community

    We are ethically and professionally responsible for developing and maintaining a certain level of competence in our clinical work.  One aspect of this development involves “acculturation”  —  acceptance of our professional culture and its ethical standards.  This workshop is about developing a professional identity and making professional connections that help us learn and provide ongoing […]

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  • Are We Really “Informants” ?

    The Ethics of "Conditional" Confidentiality

       The book “The New Informants,” by Christopher Bollas (psychoanalyst) and David Sundelson (attorney) created quite a stir when it was published in 1995. Today, few people mention that book. But it is worth revisiting.  It contains important information we should all be aware of; it offers admonitions we should still consider; and it makes some claims we […]

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  • Are Your Policies (And/Or Your Supervisees’ Policies)
    Clear Enough?

    This workshop considers some of the ethical implications of the presence or absence of clear policies about fees, billing, availability, absences, emergencies, confidentiality, disclosure, boundaries, etc. (1) How clear should they be? (2) How should they be described to clients? (3) How well are they understood by others that you work with who implement them in your setting, including clinical and non-clinical staff, as well as by those you train, mentor, or supervise?

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  • Avoiding Slippery Slopes

    This is an ethics workshop, not a risk-management workshop: in other words, the focus is on the risks to patients, not to ourselves. We know that sometimes making exceptions to our usual ethical and clinical practices can start us on a path  from which it can be very hard to recover, and which can ultimately affect clinical […]

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  • Beginnings & Endings:
    Ethical Issues and Practical Implications

    What are our ethical and legal responsibilities as we begin a clinical relationship?
    What are our ethical and legal obligations when ending a relationship?
    How can the beginning help to create a better ending?
    How might a “professional will” protect clients in the event of unexpected endings?

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  • Beginnings & Endings:
    Avoiding the Ethical, Legal, & Clinical Pitfalls

    This all-day workshop explores some of the pitfalls that can arise when beginning and ending clinical relationships. With good planning, many of those are avoidable; but we will also explore ways of preparing for the unavoidable ones.

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  • Beyond the Basics:
    Conversations About Ethical & Ethical/Legal Issues

    This workshop involves little formal presentation of information. We will use your experiences and hypothetical case situations, and we will arm you with handouts of your ethical & legal standards, in order to practice using an Ethical Problem-Solving Model to resolve ethical and ethical/legal dilemmas.

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  • Boundary “Crossing” or Boundary “Violation”?

    Ethically, What Is The Difference?

    Ethics writers are asking us to make a distinction between a benign non-sexual “crossing” of boundaries and a harmful unethical “violation” of boundaries in client relationships. What are the ethical and clinical implications of that distinction? Where should we draw the line? Who gets to decide?

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  • Can You Keep A Secret? Using an Ethical Model
    To Protect Patients’ Confidentiality Rights

    This workshop considers the ethical and legal complications that arise because confidentiality is “conditional” rather than absolute, using an Ethical Practice Model that prepares therapists to explain the expectable “limits of confidentiality” and to protect patients’ confidentiality rights.

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    Ways of Organizing Essential Ethical & Legal Information

    In order to understand their responsibilities, mental health professionals must know their ethical duties, as defined by their professional Ethics Codes, their legal responsibilities under Virginia laws & HIPAA regulations, and their obligations under their legally-binding third-party contracts. This workshop uses clinical vignettes to illustrate ways of organizing the wide range of information that mental […]

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  • Chance Encounters of the Awkward Kind

    What are the ethical implications of how we handle encounters with clients or their families outside the clinical setting? How do we decide where to draw the line in such encounters? Are there any ways to minimize their occurrence, or to prevent unnecessary clinical complications? How can we prevent them from becoming problematic dual relationships?

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  • Choosing an Ethical Decision-Making Model
    and Teaching it to Others

    A Step-By-Step Guide to Ethical Decision Making

    This workshop will introduce several ethical decision-making models and will use hypothetical case vignettes to illustrate how they might be used in various settings. Participants can practice using them in preparation for adopting one for use in their own practice or when supervising, training or consulting with others.

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  • Clarifying Our Ethical Responsibilities
    in Multi-Client and Agency-Referred Cases

    Why Is "Who is the Client" the Wrong Ethical Question?
    What Ethical Question Should We Ask Instead?

    We are often advised to ask “Who Is The Client?” when determining our role or clarifying our confidentiality rules in cases involving multiple clients or agency referrals. But that question implies a singular answer, which can create more problems than it solves! “Who is the client?” may be a required reimbursement question; and sometimes it is a helpful clinical question; but as an ethical question, it can lead us astray.
    This workshop is based on Dr. Fisher’s 2009 article, “Replacing ‘Who is the Client’ With a Different Ethical Question, published in Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 40 (1), 1-7.

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  • Confidentiality Ethics:
    What Do We Need to Know? Whom Do We Need to Tell?

    This workshop includes a brief review of what “Confidentiality Ethics” requires us to know; but it is mostly about what we should be trying to DO with what we know. Beyond protecting the confidences of patients/clients, what other ethical, legal, clinical, and practical steps will help us carry out our broader professional obligations about confidentiality?

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  • Couples in Therapy: Ethical, Legal, and Practical Issues

    When working with couples in therapy, certain policies and practices can predictably create ethical dilemmas &/or lead to legal complications. Couple therapy is difficult enough without adding unnecessary complications. This workshop is designed to help you anticipate, prevent, and/or minimize risks to clients – and thus to yourself. John T. Schroll, Ph.D. Mary Alice Fisher, […]

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  • Court Cases: Are You Clear About Your Role?

    Ethical & Legal Implications of Role Confusion in Court-Related Cases

    Regardless of practice setting or specialty, clinicians are often involved in court cases — consulting with a client’s attorney, providing records, responding to requests from a GAL, attending a deposition or providing courtroom testimony, etc. This can be voluntary (at the patient’s request) or “involuntary” (if the court orders you to comply with a subpoena). […]

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  • Creating a Competent Community

    June 6, 2015 – Fairfax, Virginia Should we move away from the current professional ethic that focuses only on our individual competence as mental health professionals and move instead toward a more collaborative professional ethic?  Research has raised serious doubts about our capacity for accurate self-assessments. Can we take more responsibility for monitoring, supporting, advising, […]

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  • Deliberate Dual Relationships:
    Ethical Responsibility to Anticipate Harm

    Ethics Codes specify that not all dual relationships are unethical. When must we say “no?” When do we have no choice? When are we free to say “yes?” Before we voluntarily create a dual relationship, or if we enter one “involuntarily” because required by law or by agency policies, what are our ethical responsibilities for evaluating/anticipating the potential for harm – or the perception of harm?

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  • Do Virginia Therapists have
    a “Duty to Warn” or a “Duty to Protect” ?

    What are our ethical and legal responsibilities if a client threatens harm to others? What is the difference between a legal “duty to warn” and a legal “duty to protect”? Which of these applies in Virginia? In addition to cases of threats of harm, what are the other circumstances when Virginia clinicians have a legal duty to disclose information for the protection of the client or of someone else? How closely do our profession’s ethical responsibilities coincide with our legal obligations under Virginia law?

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  • Dual Relationships & Boundaries

    How Many Hats Do You Wear?
    Where Do You Draw the Line?
    This workshop explores these two inter-related issues that are often confused with each other, and which can create ethical dilemmas for clinicians.

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  • Establishing Ethical Relationships With Colleagues

    What do our Ethics Codes have to say about relationships with colleagues? What ethical complications might arise in collegue relationships, whether in consultations, case referrals, or other collaborative situations? What are our ethical obligations if we believe a colleague’s behavior is putting clients at risk? How well do our Ethical Standards fit together with Virginia’s laws on these matters?

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  • Ethical & Legal Categories

    Ways of Organizing Essential Ethical & Legal Information  This workshop is designed to review and organize the broad range of ethical and legal information that mental health professionals are responsible for knowing. Categories must encompass ethical topics such as those below & must also reflect legal sources of information about those topics from state and […]

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  • Ethical & Legal Issues in Clinical Supervision & Consultation

    A workshop for clinicians who provide consultation or supervision, but also appropriate for those who receive consultation or supervision. Learn the importance of structuring the relationship in advance: informed consent. Learn the responsibilities of supervisees and consultees, as well as those of supervisors and consultants.

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  • Ethical & Legal Issues in Couple/Family Therapy

    When working with multiple-party cases, some specific ethical and legal issues must be considered.  Therapists who proceed without careful forethought and advance planning may be in for some ethical pitfalls down the road.  INTRODUCTION: Ethical Implications of How We Conceptualize a Couple or Family Therapy Case  I.  “What Are My Ethical Responsibilities to Each Party in […]

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  • Ethical Complications of Conditional Confidentiality

    Clients' Rights & Therapists' Ethical Obligations

    This workshop considers the ethical and legal complications that arise when confidentiality is “conditional” rather than absolute. How clear are your policies about exactly what you plan to disclose to whom — and when? How ready are you to describe those policies to patients and answer their “what if . . . ?” questions?

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  • Ethical Implications of Clinical Practice
    Under Virginia’s Laws

    Each state has different laws that can affect clinical practice.  This workshop focuses on the laws and regulations that affect Virginia mental health professionals.  What are the laws that help us protect the confidentiality of patient information?  What laws might limit our ability to protect confidentiality?  What other laws can place limitations on how we […]

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  • Ethical Implications of Electronic Technology
    Teletherapy, & Technotherapy

    What are the ethical and legal implications of transmitting client information electronically via computer or FAX; storing client information on computers, laptops, external drives, or disks; communicating with clients via email, twitter, or other electronic formats; using mobile phones or other portable communications devices; interacting with clients on facebook or other social network online sites? What […]

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  • Ethical Issues in
    Multidisciplinary Collaboration

    Regardless of whether we work in private practice or in a multidisciplinary setting, we are expected to be competent at collaborating with other professionals.  This can include those from other mental health disciplines, or from other professions, including prescribing physicians, teachers, attorneys, etc.  Why might this raise ethical dilemmas?  Can we avoid them, and if […]

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  • Ethical Issues in Assessment

    For mental health professionals who provide assessment services, there are some specific ethical considerations.  This is true whether they are in a private practice, in an agency or school setting, or within a forensic setting. OUTLINE 1.  Ethical Standards  2.  Competence – Acquiring It & Maintaining It Personal Competence Professional Competence Using Up-to-Date Tests & […]

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  • Ethical Planning & Decision Making

    Anticipating & Responding to Ethical Dilemmas

    A workshop about facing the problematic ethical aspects of clinical practice, reducing the risks to patient and clinician by avoiding the avoidables, and using an Ethical Decision-Making Model to resolve the unavoidables!

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  • Ethical Temptations in Private Practice

    This workshop is structured as an interactive advanced seminar: You bring the “hypothetical” temptations. We provide an Ethical Decision Making Model to help us practice responding to them.

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  • Ethical-Legal “Jeopardy”

    Ethical-Legal “Jeopardy!”  (Who Said Ethics Was Boring?) The first half of this workshop is an overview of some simple, basic topics in professional ethics and Virginia law. The second half of the workshop will be conducted a bit like a “Jeopardy” game. Using the categories below, we will test our understanding of what we have […]

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  • Facing Up To Ethical-Legal Conflicts

    Respected ethicists suggest that clinicians should consider all the options when faced with a legal requirement that conflicts with their ethical standards. Do we recognize ethical-legal conflicts when they arise, or do we fail to face them for what they are? If you must choose, should you follow your ethical standards or obey the law? What happens if you choose to disobey the law?

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  • Following Your Ethical Compass

    Following Your Own Ethical Compass: Avoiding Law-Based Mindsets, Risk-Management Mindsets  & Anxiety-Based Behavior We waste a lot of energy and create a lot of unnecessary anxiety when we adopt a solely risk-management position, because it leads us to focus on on possible risks to ourselves.  Instead, we must give priority to an ethics-based mindset which leads us […]

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  • Forethought:
    Which Ethical Dilemmas Can We Avoid If We Try?

    Forethought is sometimes considered the single most important aspect of ethical practice. Knowing the “ethical rules” is very necessary, but it is not sufficient for avoiding ethical dilemmas. With forethought and planning, however, many ethical dilemmas are actually avoidabole. How well can we avoid receiving subpoenas, prevent misunderstandings about fees and reimbursements, eliminate the confidentiality confusions in multi-client (couple/family) therapy? This workshop is about anticipating such ethical dilemmas, avoiding the ethical complications when avoidable, and being prepared to meet the ones that are unavoidable.

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  • Helping Without Hurting

    Ethically, it is important for mental health professionals to do good without doing harm (i.e., to practice both beneficence and nonmaleficence). In this workshop we will consider ways of meeting this ethical obligation, but also consider the importance of balancing this care of patients with ongoing self-care that prevents harm to self.

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  • HIPAA, Ethics Codes, & Virginia Law:
    How Do They Really Fit Together?

    When it comes to privacy and confidentiality, how do the legal standards (Virginia state laws and regulations, or federal HIPAA regulations) compare to the Ethical Standards of our own profession? How can we integrate these overlapping requirements? If they impose conflicting obligations, what do our Ethics Codes say about how we can resolve the ethical/legal conflict? NOTE: This workshop is not intended to serve as a substitute for formal HIPAA training.

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  • How Successful is My “Professional Acculturation” ?

    How well have you learned and accepted the values and ethical standards of your profession?  How well have you incorporated them into your day-to-day clinical or administrative work? We will use an Acculturation Model to assess progress across various aspects of professional practice. 1. Reflecting on Personal Ethics and Professional Ethics 2. Reviewing the Acculturation […]

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  • If Only I Had Known!

    We say this when dealing with an outcome we could have avoided if we had sought more information, been more forethoughtful, or consulted before acting. Dr. Fisher will share examples of such situations from her own practice and elsewhere, in the hope that this will help others be better prepared. Attendees are invited to add to the agenda […]

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  • Informed Consent Revisited

    Integrating the APA Ethics Code, Virginia Law & HIPAA

    This workshop for psychologists reviews the informed consent requirements in the 2002 APA Ethics Code, Virginia law, and federal HIPAA regulations. After providing a framework for integrating them, clinical vignettes illustrate how informed consent requirements might apply in different types of cases.

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  • Informed Consent With Couples and Families

    Informed consent is a process, not a one-time event; and that process can become complicated with couples and families. We will review both ethical responsibilities and legal considerations to answer questions such as:
    Who must be informed? About What? When?
    From whom must we obtain consent? For what? When
    At the initial session, what topics must we cover and whose consent must we obtain?
    After the initial understandings, when must the conversation be reopened?

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  • Keeping Secrets

    Ethics Checklists for Protecting Confidentiality Rights

    The topic of confidentiality has become very complex, so this workshop uses a series of checklists based on the presenter’s six-step Ethical Practice Model to help clinicians maintain an ethical focus even when faced with clinical complications and legal demands for disclosure of confidential information. I. How Did “Confidentiality Ethics” Become so Complicated? A. Confidentiality […]

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  • Learning From Ethical Vignettes

    This workshop is based on discussion of ethical issues raised by clinical vignettes such as those below, adapted and used used with consent from a state psychological association.  Others sources will also be used. Dilemma 1: Therapist in the Middle Dilemma 2: A Suffering Caregiver Dilemma 3: A New Referral? Dilemma 4: A Therapist in Turmoil Dilemma 5: A […]

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  • Learning the “New” APA Ethics Code

    Have Our Rules Changed?

    This workshop for psychologists provided a detailed discussion of the changes in their Ethical Standards. Participants received copies of their new 2002 Ethics Code.

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  • Legislative Update

    Ethical Implications of New and Amended Virginia Laws

    We offer this workshop whenever there are important changes in the Virginia laws and regulations that affect mental health professionals. Some years bring more important changes than others. As an example, we provide here the outline of one of our workshops about the 2008 legal changes, most of which were precipitated by the tragedy at Virginia Tech.

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  • Maintaining Ethical Practices Under Virginia’s Laws

    Clinicians in every state must follow both their profession’s Ethical Standards and their state’s laws. How well do Virginia’s laws fit together with your Ethical Standards? What ethical issues might arise for clinicians under Virginia’s specific combination of laws?

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  • Managing Your Managed Care Contracts

    Ethical & Practical Implications of Provider Contracts

    Each provider contract you sign will have slightly different terms; each managed care company will have different policies and impose different limitations. We will review some implications of various written and unwritten understandings, consider their ethical implications, and use case excmples to discuss how we can avoid some of the potential ethical pitfalls.

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  • Mental Health & Violence

    Balancing Individual Rights vs. Public Safety

    There is much discussion about the connection between mental health and violence. Recent incidents of gun violence by individuals with a mental or emotional disorder have led to pressure about changing both gun laws and civil commitment laws. Is the balance changing — moving away from protection of the individual rights of mental health patients […]

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  • Money Matters (6 Hour Workshop)

    Ethical, Professional & Business Aspects of Running an Independent Practice

    This all-day workshop first covers ethical, legal, and personal issues that can affect business decisions, then provides a process for clarifying and expanding your own business plans.
    [NOTE: CE credits are provided only for the morning (ethical and legal) portions of the workshop, not for the business portions.]

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  • Money Matters! (3 hour workshop)

    Ethical & Professional Implications of
    Financial Decisions in Mental Health Practice

    This workshop is about an area of practice neglected in graduate training programs and still treated in some circles as a “taboo” topic for therapists and other mental health professionals.  It is appropriate for any mental health professional who is in (or is planning to be in) independent practice, whether individual or group. It also […]

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  • Multi-Client Therapy: Ethical & Legal Considerations

    (Couple, Family, Group, Child+Parent, Individual With Collateral Participant)

    When providing multi-client therapy — couple, family, or group therapy; child therapy with parent consultation; or collateal participant in an individual adult therapy — certain ethical, legal, and/or clinical dilemmas often arise. Are you avoiding the predictable dilemmas and preparing clients for the “unpredictables”? Do you remember that “clinically interesting” is not synonymous with “ethically appropriate”? This workshop is designed to help clinicians anticipate, prevent, and/or minimize the risks to clients — and thus to themselves — when providing therapy in multiple-client configurations.

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  • Multicultural Competence, Anyone?

    There is much discussion about diversity and “multicultural competence;” but often there is little specificity about  definitions.  Exactly how do our professions define “multi-cultural”?  If we speak only one or two of the 337 languages used in the U.S. today, does it count if we are proficient with patients from rural cultures?  from certain disability groups?  […]

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  • Oops! What Now? Ethical Dilemmas With Difficult Patients

    Certain categories of patients create difficult ethical dilemmas for therapists.  Using information from the research literature, as well as our own experience of various types of patients, how can we anticipate the predictable dilemmas, avoid the avoidable ones,  and respond ethically to the “unavoidables”? I. Potential Pitfalls & Ethical Dilemmas With Various Patients Depressed Anxious/Fearful […]

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  • Peer Consultation:
    Paying Attention to the Ethical Issues

    We are advised to maintain professional competence through continuing education and through consultation. Peer consultation can be very important, but there are ethical issues to consider when we obtain or provide peer consultation. Do we clarify the limits of confidentiality when we provide individual consultation to each others?  In our peer consultation group, do members […]

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  • Planned and Unplanned Terminations

    Avoiding Ethical Pitfalls in Clinical Endings

    This workshop addresses questions such as these:
    What ethical and legal issues can arise around clinical endings?
    What should we consider when planning terminations?
    With forethought, can we avoid the ethical pitfalls that arise from unplanned terminations?
    What is the difference between “therapist-initiated termination” and “abandonment” ?
    What provisions should therapists make for their own unexpected absences?

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  • Practical Ethics:
    Implementing the Ethical Decisions You Have Made

    “The Hardest Part” Red Flags – Impediments to Making Good Ethical Decisions Rationalizing the Acceptability of a Contemplated Boundary Crossing Rationalizing Deviations from Standard Practice Concerns about Personal Ambition and Financial Gain Needs to Enhance One’s Own Self-Esteem Expecting the Client to Fulfill Your Personal or Social Needs Fear of Being Rejected or of Client […]

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  • Professional Ethics: Two Developmental Perspectives

    How have our professions’ Ethical Standards changed across time?
    How have we reacted to those changes?
    How does our personal and profesasional development affect the ways we approach ethical issues or change the types of ethial dilemmas we are more likely to notice, encounter, or create?

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  • Promises Kept, Promises Broken

    Ethical Implications of Our Inevitable Loyalty Conflicts & Conflicts of Interest

    This workshop explores some of the loyalty conflicts and conflicts of interest inherent in clinical work and considers ways of reducing their impact. We will explore ethical, legal, clinical and personal implications of denying them or failing to explain them to patients, as well as resources for helping us respond to them.

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  • Protecting Confidentiality Rights

    When May you Disclose Client Information?
    When May You Refuse to Disclose?
    When MUST You Refuse to Disclose?

    This workshop is based on a 6-step Ethical Practice Model that integrates ethical and legal obligations about confidentiality and guides decisions about disclosure

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  • Providing Ethical/Legal Training For Non-Clinical Staff
    in Virginia Mental Health Settings

    With Access to Patients and Their Data, What Should Employees Be Taught?

    Offered by popular demand, this workshop is appropriate both for clinicians and for their employees or contracted agents (e.g., billing agents). [Fee is discounted if employer and employee attend together.] Employee training rarely includes formal discussion of professional ethics. Yet, clinicians are ethically and legally responsible for the actions of their staff. HIPAA now requires “workforce training about how to protect patients’ privacy/confidentiality rights as legally defined by HIPAA. We recommend a broader ethical/legal training for all non-clinical personnel with access to patients and their data (and also for clinical supervisees, students, interns, and volunteers), in order to better protect patients and their rights . . . and you. Participants leave with a sample staff-training manual, on paper and on CD.

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  • Reaching For The Ethical Ceiling

    This workshop focuses not on the “ethical floor,” as defined by the ethical mandates in each profession’s ethics code, but instead on the “ethical ceiling” as defined by individual mental health professionals. Discussion will include issues such as how personal values fit into the ethical equation; ethical options if one’s personal values conflict with formal ethical standards; and ways of defining and striving toward one’s personal “ethical ceiling” as a mental health professional.

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  • Recognizing the Ethical Challenges
    In Your Own Setting

    Physical Setting Challenges to Privacy Limitations to Your Safety Limitations to Client Safety Colleague Behavior Colleague Conversations with You Colleague Interactions with Clients Colleague Interactions with Staff Staff Behavior Staff Interactions with Clients Staff Conversations about Clients Staff Lapses about Privacy and Confidentiality Client Behavior Client Interactions with Other Clients Client Waiting Room Behavior/ Interactions […]

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  • Record Keeping: Ethical and Practical Considerations

    What guidelines should we follow for developing our policies about clinical records?
    This workshop covers some of the ethical, legal, and practical considerations.

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  • Record Keeping: Focusing on the Ethical Underpinnings

    In the midst of worrying about the record-keeping reuirements imposed by state laws, HIPAA, managed care contracts, agency policies, etc., and with our eye on liability, are we losing our ethical perspective? We will cover ownership, content, storage, retention time, and other practical issues, but our primary focus will be on the ethical considerations that should underlie our decisions.

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  • Replacing “Who is the client?”
    With a Different Ethical Question

    This familiar question asks for a singular answer. That may be important as a clinical or legal question, and it is sometimes required as a reimbursement question. But as an ethical question, it is misleading and problematic. It is important for you (and for those you supervise) to understand why a better ethical question is: “What are my ethical obligations to each of the parties in this case?”

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  • Retiring, Relocating, or Closing a Practice:
    Ethical & Practical Considerations

    Whether you intend to move your practice or retire and end practicing, one big consideration involves terminations with existing clinical patients, or notifications to recent patients. Our professions have some Ethical Standards that apply to this circumstance, Virginia has some laws that apply to relocating a practice, and malpractice agencies have some risk-management recommendations. This […]

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  • Revising Our Language About Informed Consent

    Does our language about informed consent create confusion about it?  Therapists and other mental health professionals often ask how they should “deliver” or “give” informed consent to patients.  But in fact, informed consent is something you receive — “consent from an informed patient.”  This workshop lets us practice fitting our language to the concept as […]

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  • Self-Care for Mental Health Professionals

    Ethical and Professional Implications of Burn-Out, Stress, & Self-Neglect

    Our ability to take care of ourselves as professionals has a direct impact on our objectivity and competence in caring for clients. Similarly, clinical work affects our own personal, emotional, and spiritual life. We approach this topic from both perspectives as we consider the ethical, clinical, and personal importance of self-care.

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  • Serious Conversation About Ethical Dilemmas

    This workshop is structured as an interactive advanced seminar. Participants bring the “hypothetical” ethical dilemmas. We provide handouts of ethical and legal resource materials and an Ethical Decision-Making Model with which to practice resolving the dilemmas.

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  • Social Media & Electronic Technology:
    What are the Ethical Issues?

    What are the ethical implications of posting our private information online? What are the guidelines for interacting with clients on Facebook or other social network online sites? What are the necessary safeguards and where should we draw the line? What are the ethical and legal implications of transmitting client information electronically via computer or FAX; […]

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  • Subpoenas & Court Orders

    What is the legal difference between an attorney-issued “discovery subpoena” and a judge’s “court order” to produce information? What are the ethical implications of this legal difference? Can you file a “motion to quash” a subpoena? Should you? Will you agree to be an “expert witness” or only a “fact witness”? Deciding how to answer these questions will be important in preparing to protect the rights of any client who becomes involved in a court case.

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  • The Ethics of “Conditional” Confidentiality

    *This workshop uses a Practice Model adapted from Fisher, M.A. (2008). Protecting confidentiality rights: The need for an ethical practice model.  American Psychologist, 63, 1-13. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.63.1.1 and Fisher, M.A.  (2013). The Ethics of Conditional Confidentiality: A Practice Model for Mental Health Professionals. New York, Oxford University Press.  ISBN 9780199752201 INTRODUCTION:  The ABCs of “Conditional” […]

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  • Therapist

    Therapists have many different opinions about self-disclosure with their patients.   But regardless of your theoretical orientation or type of service, are there certain types of self-disclosure that are likely to be inappropriate in clinical relationships? We will explore the possibilities and test their potential consequences to the clinical process.    I. Ethical & Professional Guidelines […]

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  • Therapists’ Duties
    vs. Patients’ Responsibilities

    Where do our professional duties end and our patients’ responsibilities begin? In this workshop we will focus on some of the ethical dilemma that might raise this question.  For example, if a patient needs hospitalization, what scales do we use for balancing the ethical principle of beneficence against the duty to foster patient autonomy?  What […]

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  • Top 10 Ethically Important Distinctions

    Are you clear about the distinctions reflected in the list below? Why it is ethically important to understand these differences?  How might patients/clients be harmed if you fail to do that? What might be the risk to you if you fail to do that? 1.  Personal Moral Code vs. Professional Ethics 2. Ethically-Required vs. Ethically-Permitted Behavior 3. […]

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  • Trying On New Hats

    Exploring Some Ethical & Professional Implications of
    Available Roles for Mental Health Professionals

    Our professions, and others in the marketplace, are encouraging us to explore new ways of using our clinical skills — new roles, populations, & venues. We will explore some of the new forensic-related roles, technology-assisted roles, and innovative interventions. What are some of the ethical and legal implications of the roles now suggested to mental health professionals? How will we decide whether and how to acept them?

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  • Virginia Minors & Confidentiality

    Integrating Ethical Standards & Laws

    Ethics Codes have some important things to say about minors’ confidentiality rights, but how do those fit together with the legal provisions in Virginia statutes? Because Virginia law gives minors of any age the right to consent to outpatient treatment, HIPAA regulations therefore give Virginia minors almost the same rights as adults; but what are the legal limitations of those rights (e.g., Virginia’s statute granting parents access to minors’ records)? How does all this legal information fit together with our ethical standards? This workshop represents our best attempt to integrate all these ethical and legal mandates.

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  • Want to Delegate It?

    What Are Your Ethical Responsibilities When Entrusting Tasks to Others?

    Do others serve as “on call” clinicians for you? Do you use clerical staff, a billing agent, an answering service, a computer guru, etc.? Do others participate in interviewing your clients or obtaining signatures on consent forms? Do you have assistants who administer or score tests? Ethics Codes impose some specific obligations when we entrust tasks to others. HIPAA also imposes legal requirements if those delegated tasks involve interactions with clients or with their protected health information. This workshop summarizes the ethical and legal obligations and considers their practical implications.

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  • What Are We Not Talking About?

    Raising the Ethical Issues We Avoid

    Some ethical issues are difficult to address, so we clinicians tend not to raise them in supervision, consultation, peer conversation, or workshops. Dr. Fisher will dare to put some of those on the table, using clinical case vignettes. Participants are invited to share any “hypothetical” case situations they choose, but no one will be “put on the spot” or required to raise personal examples of the issues she will present.

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  • What If You (or Your Records) Go To Court?

    Ethical Pitfalls, Legal Rules, & Confusing Roles

    Whether you provide records or testimony voluntarily or involuntarily, some important ethical standards and legal rules will apply. Things become even more complicated if you are not clear in advance about your role(s).

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  • What Is Your Role?
    Why Does It Matter?

    Mental health professionals take on many different roles and provide many types of services.  Your ethical responsibilities will vary, depending upon your role at the moment.  How does the ethical equation change if you are in more than one role at a time?  Which role combinations are most likely to cause ethical complications, and can […]

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  • What Must I “Unlearn” ?

    We will spend time considering whether there are some things we might need to “unlearn” as we continue our professional development.  What might be the ethical implications of holding onto things learned in graduate school that are now obsolete — or “professional habits” that are no longer adaptive — or things that worked elsewhere but […]

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  • What’s New?
    Ethical Implications of New and Amended Virginia Laws

    As of July 1, 2008, Virginia has some new laws, several of which were enacted in response to the Virginia Tech tragedy. How might they potentially affect your clients? How might you need to change your promises about “limits of confidentiality?” In 2008, the Virginia Legislature passed laws which may affect your practice regardless of […]

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  • Where Are We Going Astray? Why?

    Which practice areas create ethical or legal difficulties for mental health professionals? Why?
    What pressures lead us to make poor ethical decisions?
    What can we do about it?

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  • Which Hat(s) Are You Wearing? Why Does It Matter?

    What ethical obligations are specific to the hat(s) you wear? Certain basic ethical responsibilities apply across the board — regardless of our role — but some roles bring with them specific additional ethical obligations. This becomes even more complicated when we multiply hats.

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  • Who Is The Client?
    How Do You Decide? Whom Must You Tell?

    How we conceptualize, define, and explain “client” can sometimes have wider consequences than we expect. This workshop is designed to explore some of the ethical, clinical, legal, contractual, and financial implications of how we answer the question, “Who Is The Client?”

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  • Working With Minors: Ethical, Legal, and Professional Pitfalls

    Appropriate for any mental health professional who works with minors in any setting, this workshop will cover some of the ethical and legal basics, plus some of the complications created by Virginia statutes and court cases.

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  • Working With Separating & Divorcing Families

    Ethical & Legal Issues for Therapists

    Do our Ethics Codes have anything special to say about working with families that are separating, facing divorce, or already divorced – or about working with families facing contested child custody issues? Does Virginia law have anything particular to say that affects how we work with these families, or what we explain in advance about our roles and our policies about confidentiality? Are there particular ethical or legal risks for therapists who work with members of these families, and if so, how can we avoid or minimize these risks?

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  • Working With the Elderly & Their Families

    Most clinicians see some elderly patients and/or work with their adult children. This workshop is appropriate for therapists and other mental health clinicians of all professions in all settings, and for clinical graduate students.

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  • Working With Virginia College & University Students:
    Ethical and Legal Issues

    Working with college students can raise important ethical issues when making  decisions about such things as client autonomy, confidentiality, and informed consent. This workshop also looks at some of the ethical issues that can arise because of Virginia’s current laws. A.  ETHICAL ISSUES WITH STUDENT THERAPY PATIENTS Informed Consent Confidentiality & Its Limits Ethical/Professional Duties College/University Policies Legal […]

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