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Retirement of Therapists: Ethical, Legal, Clinical and Psychological Considerations

2 CE Credits/Hours - Online Course - $19.00

Co-developed by Garry Cooper, LCSW and Ofer Zur, Ph.D.

Course includes Retirement Checklist & Professional Will Form

This course includes materials consisting of:

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General Course Description

Retirement does not free a therapist from several legal, ethical and psychological obligations, even if the retirement is unplanned. Several years after their retirement, for example, therapists (or their estates) can find themselves still liable for damages that may have occurred to a former client. Retiring therapists are ethically and legally obligated to have a plan in place for notifying and transitioning clients, managing clients' records, notifying colleagues and third party payers with whom they're contractually obligated, and helping clients process their feelings about losing their therapist. As if that isn't enough, therapists have their own psychological issues to manage--even if the retirement is planned and eagerly anticipated. In the event of unplanned retirement--for example, a sudden debilitating illness or death--legal and ethical standard of care requirements still call for a therapist to have been prepared for this eventuality. Thus the responsible therapist must have certain protocols and procedures firmly in place at all times.

This intermediate level course will give therapists the information they need to effectively prepare for and manage their retirement. It includes the relevant codes of ethics from professional mental health organizations, valuable information from leading psychotherapy malpractice insurers, sample forms, and first person experiences of the personal issues psychodynamic therapists tried to manage, both with clients and intra-psychically. It also includes an extensive resource list for further information

Educational Objectives

This course will teach psychotherapists to:

1.    Summarize the ethical and legal responsibilities and tasks for planned and unplanned retirement.

2.    Describe the personal issues therapists may face surrounding retirement.

Course Syllabus

Professional organizations codes of ethics concerning retirement and client abandonment

Legal and ethical issues concerning retirement

  • transition and disposal of client records
  • obtaining informed consents from clients
  • handling NPI number
  • malpractice insurance
  • notifying and transitioning clients
  • voice mail and email
  • notifying colleagues and third party payers
  • professional will

Sample forms

  • Retirement checklist
  • Professional will

Therapists' personal issues surrounding retirement

  • identity
  • loss of meaning
  • easing the transition

Helping clients manage your retirement

  • when and how to inform individual clients
  • notifying former clients
  • using the therapists' own feelings psychodynamically

Additional resources for further study

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