CA Law and Professional Ethics: Ethics of Psychotherapy and Counseling

Online Course Materials:    ArticlesArticles    VideosVideos   

Developed by Ofer Zur, Ph.D.

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Course fulfills the ethics requirement for pre-licensure for LCSWs and LPCCs in CA

Course also fulfills the ethics and law requirements for psychologists, social workers and counselors in California and other states. Course may qualify for insurance discount. Check with your insurer.

If you didn't pass the CA Law & Ethics exam OR are required to take a 12 hr CA Law & Professional Ethics course, see CA Law and Professional Ethics 12 CE (For ASWs, SWs, AMFTs, MFT, APCCs s & PCCs)

This course is also offered as part of a Pre-licensing Savings Package of pre-requisite courses.

General Course Description

This unique 18 credit hour (18 content/clock hours) course is one of the most extensive courses offered on the ethics of psychotherapy and counseling. Using videos and articles, the course covers a wide range of topics, issues, and considerations regarding the standard of care, ethical-decision-making, codes of ethics, and more specific ethics concerns with confidentiality, record-keeping, adult and dependent abuse reporting, treatment of children, fees, insurance, and termination. It then reviews the important cutting-edge developments in digital ethics and the impact of technology on the delivery of mental health services. Next it reviews specific concerns with ethical boundaries, such as touch, gifts, self-disclosure, and home visits. It then discusses how to respond to subpoenas and reviews the more controversial topics of multiple relationships, risk management, and therapy outside the office walls. Transcripts are available for all videos.

The course also specifically attends to CA laws and regulations relevant to LCSWs, LPCCs, and psychologists. It covers a wide range of topics, such as scope of practice, reporting laws, working with dangerous clients, shifts or trends in standard of practice, treatment of minors, confidentiality, licensing laws, different work settings, and many other topics required for pre-licensure in CA for LCSWs and LPCCs.

This extensive course consists of nine sections. The first section of the course reviews the ethical/legal topics of the standard of care, confidentiality, record keeping, termination, and fees and insurance considerations. It also attends to issues relating specifically to California law. The second section reviews the ethical and legal issues resulting from the impact and utility of modern digital technologies in mental health services. The third section defines therapeutic boundaries, differentiates between boundary crossings and boundary violations, and discusses the specific boundary issues of self-disclosure, physical touch, gifts, dual or multiple relationships, home visits, and therapy outside the office. The fourth section reviews the ethical issues that are presented in three different work settings, i.e. forensic, small/rural communities and the home office. The fifth section outlines the issues involved in responding to subpoenas. The sixth section discusses the legal and ethical complexities and ethical issues involved with risk management. The seventh section details CA laws and regulations regarding elder and adult dependent abuse reporting laws and issues of treatment of children, child abuse reporting laws, and treating dangerous clients. The eighth section details CA law regarding licensing laws and the process of obtaining licenses for LPCCs and LCSWs. It also discuss the issues of scope of practice for LPCCs and LCSWs.Finally, the last section provides an extensive list of the codes of ethics on a variety of topics, such as confidentiality, termination, subpoena, telemental health, record-keeping, gifts, and much more. 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

  • Review the elements that the standard of care in psychotherapy is based upon.
  • Specify how to protect confidentiality in the online environment.
  • Review the roles and importance of privacy, privilege, and confidentiality in the psychotherapy relationship.
  • Describe strategies for record retention and disposal that comply with ethical and legal requirements in California and other states.
  • Explain how to plan for termination and how to prevent abandonment and unethical practice.
  • Analyze the importance of handling money issues clinically and ethically.
  • Identify the ethical challenges that may arise from engaging in activities on the Internet.
  • Differentiate among boundary crossing, boundary violations and dual relationships in psychotherapy.
  • Summarize the importance of context and population in determining whether to disclose or not to disclose.
  • Discuss ethical and clinical guidelines for touch in psychotherapy.
  • Review the ethical and clinical complexities relevant to gift giving.
  • Identify when boundary crossings are likely to increase therapeutic effectiveness.
  • Describe when out-of-office intervention can increase clinical effectiveness.
  • Discuss ethical considerations regarding home office.
  • Report on the circumstances and manner in which a therapist can serve as an expert witness ethically and legally.
  • Identify the behavioral and mental health needs and concerns of rural residents.
  • Identify the legal and illegal issues that are involved in responding to subpoenas.
  • Detail the CA laws and regulations as they apply to LCSWs, LPCCs, and Psychologists.


  • Knapp, S. J., & VandeCreek, L. D. (2012). Practical ethics for psychologists: A positive approach (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: APA Books.
  • Lazarus, A. A. (2013). How certain boundaries and ethics diminish therapeutic effectiveness. In D. A. Sisti, A. L. Caplan, & H. Rimon-Greenspan (Eds.), Applied ethics in mental health care: An interdisciplinary reader (pp. 321-328). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
  • Zur, O. (2010). To Google or not to Google Our Clients? When psychotherapists and other mental health care providerssearch their clients on the Web. Independent Practitioner, 30(3), 144-148.

Course Syllabus:

  • General Ethical &Legal Considerations
    • Standard of Care
    • Confidentiality
    • Transporting Confidential Clinical Records in Laptops (Addendum for California mental health practitioners)
    • Record Keeping: Ethics & Guidelines
    • Record Retention
    • Termination: Ethics, Guidelines, Resources, California law on termination
    • Fees and Insurance in psychotherapy and counseling: Ethics and Guidelines
    • Insurance Fraud
    • Addendum for California mental health practitioners
    • Use of collection agencies
  • Ethical&Legal Considerations in the Digital Age
    • Digital Ethics: Definitions and issues
    • Therapists Googling clients
    • Clients Googling therapists
    • Use of e-mail and texts in psychotherapy
    • When clients text during sessions
    • Record keeping of digital communication
    • The Facebook ethical dilemmas
    • Informed consent and digital communications
    • Privacy and confidentiality in e-mail, texts and social networking communication
  • Ethics of Therapeutic Boundaries
    • Defining therapeutic boundaries
    • On boundary crossings and boundary violations
    • Ethics of self-disclosure and transparency in therapy
    • Ethics of physical touch
    • Gifts and ethics: Gifts from therapists, clients and a third party
    • Ethics of dual relationships (or multiple relationships): Ethical & unethical, avoidable & unavoidable.
    • Ethical considerations in home visits
    • Ethical issues in therapy outside the office: Celebrations of clients achievements, adventure therapy, nature therapy, incidental encounters and other “out-of-office” encounters
    • Shifts in Attitudes towards Therapeutic Boundaries
    • Guidelines to ethical use of boundaries in therapy
    • Resources for therapeutic boundaries
    • Codes of ethics on therapeutic boundaries
  • Ethical & Legal Considerations in Special and Work Settings
    • Home Office: Ethical, clinical and safety considerations
    • Forensic settings, such as prison, evaluators,treaters; therapists as expert witness and codes of ethics on forensic dual relationships
    • Ethics ofsmall communities and rural practice: Ethical concerns with privacy, confidentiality, dual relationships, transparency, and other ethical issues that are unique to rural practice
  • Subpoenas
    • Subpoenas: Ethical and legal considerations
    • Patriot Act, Confidentiality & Subpoenas, Therapist as Informer
  • Additional California Law and Regulations for LPCCs and LCSW
    • Scope of practice
    • Child Abuse Reporting
    • Licensing law and process
    • Elder and Dependent Adult Abuse reporting laws
    • Treatment of Minors and Minors’ Consent
    • Dealing with Family Law, such as treating children of divorce and being informed regarding who can conduct child custody evaluation
    • Dealing with Dangerous Clients
  • Law, Ethics of Risk-Management and Trends in the Mental Health Professions
    • Ethical Risk Management: Preserving our clinical and ethical integrity while practicing risk management
    • Trends and shifts in the mental health practices
  • Professional Associations’ Codes of Ethics
    • Bartering
    • Burnout, Impairment & Therapists’ Self Care
    • Confidentiality
    • Dual Relationships
    • Electronic-Digital Records
    • Fees
    • Forensic Multiple Relationships
    • Gifts
    • HIV-AIDS
    • Outside the Office Therapy
    • Record Keeping
    • Retirement & Sudden Termination
    • Subpoena
    • Supervision
    • TeleMental Health, E-Therapy, Social Media & Digital Ethics
    • Termination
    • Touch in Therapy
CE Badge Created with Sketch. 18 CE

Cost: $149.00

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