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CA Law and Professional Ethics

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Co-developed by Sage de Beixedon Breslin, Ph.D. and Brooke Anarde, MA, MSW, LCSW

PER BBS: Exam Restructure FAQs for Registrants (ASWs, AMFTs and APCC ONLY): “If you don’t pass the exam prior to your registration’s expiration date, you must complete a 12-hour course in California Law and Ethics before you will be allowed to retake the exam during the next renewal cycle.”
This course meets this 12-hour course requirement.

This course is also offered as part of a Pre-licensing Savings Package of pre-requisite courses and fulfills the NEW 2020 Portability of License to California.

General Course Description

This comprehensive course provides a broad understanding of the laws and ethics associated with clinical practice. Suggestions and interactive engagement enable optimal learning, application and retention of the information.

This foundational course offers articles that cover a wide variety oflegal and ethical issues associated with the practice of marriage and family therapy. The course provides information on matters of confidentiality, privilege and consent; mandated reporting; legal standards for professional practice; professional competence and the prevention of harm; issues associated with the therapeutic relationship; and business practices and policies. Also offered are MFT licensure study tips. 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
  • Note the major requirements for making application for licensure as a marriage and family therapist.
  • Define and delineate the scope of practice for marriage and family therapists.
  • Describe the difference between scopes of practice and competence.
  • Review the principle of confidentiality and its limitations.
  • Define privilege and its intricacies.
  • Describe the legal requirements associated with the treatment of minors.
  • Note key laws related to the treatment of elder and dependent adults.
  • Summarize the elements of informed consent and the laws and statutes which are associated with informed consent.
  • Describe the legal requirements for documenting, storing, disposing of, maintaining and managing requests for medical records.
  • Review the ethical and legal mandates related to sexual conduct.
  • Summarize the actions that constitute unprofessional conduct for marriage and family therapists.
  • Note the ethical and legal requirements associated with advertising.


  • Board of Behavioral Sciences, CA . (2017).Statutes and Regulations Relating tothe Practices of Professional Clinical Counseling, Marriage and Family Therapy,Educational Psychology and Clinical SocialWork . Sacramento, CA: Board of Behavioral Sciences.Retrieved from
  • Butler, M.H. & Zamora, J.P. (2013).Ethical and Legal Concerns for MFTs in the Context of Clergy-Collaborative Care: Is What I Share Really Confidential?The American Journal of Family Therapy Vol. 41, 2.
  • Coy, J. S., Lambert, J. E. and Miller, M. M. 2016). Stories of the accused: A phenomenological inquiry of MFTs and accusations of unprofessional conduct. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 42, 139–152. doi: 10.1111/jmft.12109.

Course Syllabus:

    • Confidentiality
      • Protecting client’s right to privacy
      • Maintaining confidentiality when disseminating information
    • Privilege
      • Knowing who holds the privilege
      • Impacts of privilege on treatment
      • Privileged information in legal matters
    • Treatment and complying with legal requirements when treating minors
    • Maintaining Clinical Records
      • Documentation
      • Storage of records
      • Disposal of records
      • Maintaining confidentiality of records
      • Managing requests for records
    • Consent
      • Providing service in person or via telemental health
      • Maintaining compliance with HIPAA laws
    • Reporting suspected child, elder, and dependent adult abuse, neglect or exploitation
    • Breaking confidentiality when clients are a danger to self, others or suffering grave disability
    • Exceptions in legal proceedings
    • Compliance with laws and regulations associated with scope of practice and professional conduct
    • Regulations associated with sexual contact/conduct between therapist and client
    • Disclosure of fees and policies prior to initiating treatment and concerns with referral fees
    • Awareness of legal issues associated with Inpatient treatment and patient rights
    • Compliance with laws and regulations associated with third party payers and advertising
    • Professional Competence
      • Consultation to manage issues associated with ethical conduct and scope of competence
      • Maintenance of own health and well-being in order to provide competent service
      • Referring for adjunctive services when in the client’s best interest
    • Harm Prevention
      • Maintaining professional boundaries
      • Management of own beliefs, values and attitudes in order to protect against issues which might interfere with the provision of competent psychotherapy
      • Evaluation of conflicts of interest
      • Compliance with laws and regulations associated with sexual conduct and contact with current and former clients and collaterals
    • Informed consent
    • Assessing needs when client is receiving concurrent therapies
    • Reviewing confidentiality, role of therapist, goals for treatment, treatment modalities
    • Reviewing and managing any limits to confidentiality and impacts on the therapeutic relationship
    • Evaluating risk factors that may impact the therapy
    • Management of legal or ethical obligations during the course of therapy
    • Awareness and process of issues associated with diversity
    • Providing treatment that promotes client’s autonomy
    • Client advocacy and third party payers
    • Maintaining practices for continuity of care
    • Termination of treatment when no longer benefitting the client
    • Advertising accurately and authentically
    • Maintaining client records to document treatment and to guarantee confidentiality
    • Promoting clarity of professional role
    • Implement policies that address ethical issues associated with the use of electronic media and technology used in therapy
    • Maintaining accurate fee and payment policies
    • Compliance with laws and regulations associated with the receipt of gifts from clients
    • Maintaining ethical guidelines when conducting research
    • Managing unethical conduct of colleagues to safeguard clients
    • Compliance with laws and regulations when engaged in a supervisorial relationship
  • MFT Licensure Study Tips
CE Badge Created with Sketch. 12 CE

Cost: $119.00

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