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Standard of Care in Psychotherapy & Counseling: Shedding Clarity on an Illusive Standard

1 CE Credit Hour - Online Course - $19.00

Developed by Ofer Zur, Ph.D.

Course fulfills, fully or in part, the Ethics & Law requirements for psychologists in CA and for psychologists, social workers, counselors, and addiction counselors in other states. Verify requirements with your state board.

This course is also offered as part of an Advanced Ethics Certificate Program of 70 CE Credit Hours.

Course materials: text/webpage Articles    audio Audios
All materials are available as audios & articles for student's choice

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General Course Description

This intermediate level course reviews one of the most important terms in psychotherapy, the standard of care. For a psychotherapist to successfully be sued by a plaintiff, a negative or unfortunate outcome is not enough. Plaintiff must establish that the therapist acted below the standard of care. Similarly, administrative judges or licensing boards may sanction a psychotherapist, if they find that the therapist operated below the standard of care. It is, therefore, of extreme importance that psychotherapists and counselors understand the parameters that define the standard of care, practice within the standard and learn ways to document that they did not practice below the standard.

This course is comprised of two audio presentations and text counterparts. The first is an extensive audio presentation on the general aspects Standard of Care in psychotherapy. The second audio covers specific standard of care summaries & guidelines regarding confidentiality, termination, and dual relationships in psychotherapy. Additional resources and references are provided for further study, but they are not part of the course.

Educational Objectives

1.    Review the elements that the standard of care in psychotherapy is based on.

2.    Summarize the complexities and problems in establishing the standard of care.

3.    Discuss the relationships between the standard of care and state laws, case laws and the codes of ethics.

4.    Review guidelines for record keeping that demonstrate that therapists operate within the standard of care.

Course Syllabus

  • Definition
  • Understanding the complexities of the standard of care
  • Elements from which the standard of care is derived from:
    • Statutes
    • Licensing boards' regulations
    • Case law
    • Ethical Codes of professional associations
    • Consensus of the professionals
    • Consensus in the community
  • What the standard of care is not
    • It is not a standard of perfection
    • It is not guided by risk management principles
    • It does not follow psychoanalytic or any other particular theoretical orientation
    • The standard is not determined by outcome
    • The standard is not permanent or fixed
    • It is not determined by cost
  • The standard of care and risk management
  • Specific standard of care summaries & guidelines regarding certain situations in psychotherapy
  • Compliance with the standard of care - Record keeping
  • Summary
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