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Confidentiality in Psychotherapy & Counseling: Ethical, Legal and Clinical Issues

6 CE Credit Hours - Online Course - $60.00

Developed by Ofer Zur, Ph.D.

Course fulfills the California and other states' ethics and law requirements. Course may qualify for insurance discount. Check with your insurer.

Course includes the most important ready-to-used form in psychotherapy, "Office Policies & General Information: Agreement for Psychotherapy Services."

Course materials: text/webpage Articles    audio Audios

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General Course Description

This intermediate course, updated to include the growing issues concerning confidentiality and electronic and digital communication, explains the procedures, ethics, advantages and potential pitfalls of ensuring confidentiality in the therapy relationship. Articles and podcast interviews with such ethics and legal experts as Dr. Stanley Brodsky, Christopher Zopatti, JD, and Jeffrey Younggren, take therapists though the requirements and intricacies of maintaining confidentiality while protecting the client, the therapeutic relationship and the therapist.

Part One presents an overview of issues concerning confidentiality. Part Two includes two audio interviews with experts and looks at the legal cases that have redefined confidentiality and duty to warn. Also included is information on how therapists can make sense of the often conflicting rulings and protect themselves and their clients. Part Three covers the unique issues surrounding electronic communication, including e-therapy and the growing use of email, Skype and social networking sites by therapists. Additional resources and references are provided for further study, but they are not part of the course.

Educational Objectives

This course will teach the participant to:

1.    Define the differences and similarities between confidentiality and privacy.

2.    Describe the procedures governing informed consent.

3.    Identify the components of a secure office environment.

4.    Review the confidentiality issues around electronic communication.

5.    Review confidentiality requirements of professional mental health associations.

6.    Identify the principles of records retention and destruction.

Course Syllabus

Defining confidentiality in therapy

Informed consent

  • As a process, not just a form
  • For minors and vulnerable adults
  • For all other clients
  • In groups and couples and family therapy

  • In forensic psychology

Confidentiality vs mandated reporting

  • Tarasoff
  • Ewing
  • Releasing notes after a client's death

Subpoenas and court orders

  • When and how to comply with each
  • Discussing with clients

Duty to warn and legal rulings

Confidentiality in the electronic age

  • Cell phones, faxes and photocopying issues
  • Email and Skype
  • Facebook and other social marketing

Confidentiality and codes of ethics of major professional mental health organizations

Clinical forms

  • Clinical Forms, including Office Policies and Informed Consent
  • General rules for what to include
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