WHAT’S ON DORA’S AND THE LOUISIANA MENTAL HEALTH BOARDS’ RADAR: CURRENT ISSUES OF CONCERN FOR THE BOARDS
Licensing Board Radar
I recently attended the Colorado DORA LPC Board meeting (January 6th) and the Louisiana Social Work Board of Examiners meeting (January 13th). These meetings are open for all to attend the public portion and, in Louisiana, you can receive 1 CEU of Ethics and 1 CEU of General for use in renewals.
The following are some observations from both meetings.
January 6, 2023 Colorado LPC Board meeting
- Surprisingly, quite a few Complaints were filed by anonymous Complainants. Although the board member assigned to report on the case and the defense from respondent offered a summary, the board members stated that they could not really investigate the allegations submitted by an anonymous complainant. I still recommend retaining a lawyer to help you furnish a Response, the chances are great that it will be dismissed unless there are other similar complaints filed against the clinician.
- There were several employer-employee complaints.
- There was one complaint that a board member considered retaliatory for some unclear reason, and the matter was referred into Executive Session (the non-public portion where the board discusses case that possibly warrant discipline or have strange legal issues).
- One interesting and possibly reassuring discussion by the board concerned a complaint alleging the clinician failed to refer the client for services from Victim Advocates – the board decided that it is not necessary to refer a client to a specialist if the clinician who has been treating the client for some time (in this case, two years) already has significant training in that area. Here, the respondent had significant training in the area of sexual assault/trauma and the board determined due to the ongoing length of the therapist-client relationship as well as the fact that the clinician was quote competent in that area, the respondent was not obliged to refer the client to a Victim Advocate specialist.
- There was a dual relationship matter, but since the complainant was anonymous, the board dismissed saying they could not investigate sufficiently.
January 13, 2023 Louisiana State Board of Social Work Examiners
- Nothing particularly different with complaints.
- The LABSWE’s attorney, Jim Raines, presented a proposed consent agreement, which the board quickly voted to approve. The good news in that is when Jim and I negotiate agreements for consent (with me examining the language he sends for the consent agreement and tweaking it somewhat to be more favorable to my client), the board likely will approve it. One good thing anyway.
UPCOMING WEBINARS IN 2023 – BEYOND ETHICS, LLC
As usual, I mulled and pondered … and reviewed the “suggested future topics” in the webinar evaluations that many of you have sent to me after taking one of my Beyond Ethics, LLC webinars. Thank you for your ideas and perhaps some of you will recognize your suggested topic!!
Dates of Webinars
May 12th, June 30th, and November 3rd – Come join us!!
Description of workshop
Questions about how much to document? What about separate files for HIPAA Privacy Rule and why would a clinician go to that trouble? Separate teletherapy consent forms? Why and what should it cover?
Are there any ways to avoid getting grieved/complained about to the licensing board?
And if by (unlucky) chance you do receive that email or letter from your licensing board saying that a Complaint has been filed against you, what do you do and how does the process unfold?
Oh no! I’ve been served!! Now what?
We will address these issues and more. This workshop will cover these questions and other sticky wickets of ethical managing of some business aspects of clinical practice.
ADDITIONAL CUSTOM TRAINING that Deb has planned for this coming Spring (2023)
- March 4th New Orleans-Birmingham Psychoanalytic Center – LIVE presentation: “Advance Ethical Planning for Therapist’s Unexpected Departure: The Professional Will!!”
- April 12th University of Colorado at Colorado Springs School of Social Work in partnership with UCHealth-Memorial Behavioral Health (Zoom): “Ethics and Risk Prevention”
NOTE: If your agency, clinic, university, or consultation group would like a custom training, I am happy to tailor such to your needs. Together we can plan the substance of the training, case examples, length of training, etc.
What people said about my most recent seminars:
- “This was great information for if/when I’m subpoenaed. Wonderful reminder of my role as a counselor and how to make sure I’m protecting myself and [my] license.”
- “The April 1st session on Divorcing Couples with Children was … interactive and informal, balanced well with [Deb’s] knowledge and expertise in the area. I like that she and participants shared real cases that presented a challenge.”
- “Great job with Zoom. It almost was a good as being in the room with you.”
- “Very detailed, helpful … in navigating the legal world from a clinical perspective.”
- “Content was practical and presented in ‘layman’s’ terms. Easy to understand and able to take into practice immediately.”
- “Topic was very pertinent to many things I have experienced.”
- “Very helpful and plan to attend future seminars.”
DEB IS AVAILABLE FOR LEGAL / CLINICAL CONSULTATION and/or TRAINING
I am available to provide legal consultations for your high-risk clients or situations. I offer consultations to individual therapists or clinical group (e.g., clinical consultation groups, suite mates, etc.). I often schedule therapist consultations via telephone but can also schedule via Zoom if you prefer.
Additionally, I also can work with you to design custom training for your agencies, academic mental health programs, and small group practices. The trainings I have provided in the past have included a focus on: (1) ethically managing high-risk clinical situations and legal involvement of the therapist, (2) helping therapists prepare for deposition or trial testimony, and (3) responding to a subpoena request for clinical records or therapist testimony at deposition or trial.
If interested or need additional information, please email me: email@example.com.
PREVIOUS ETHICS WEBINARS
[NOTE: these topics/presentations are available for consultation groups, agencies, or university custom trainings – contact Deb for more information or to schedule.]
Divorcing Couples with Children: Ethical, Self-Protective Management of High-Risk Cases and Legal Involvement – April, June, November.
Divorce and custody litigation can draw therapists into a black hole and destroy their ability to maintain a healthy, therapeutic relationship with the child client who needs them sorely.
This workshop will help clinicians prepare to handle these white-water rapids with a better understanding of how to shield themselves from harm, albeit probably not from all anxiety.
Deb invites participant discussion throughout the webinar and encourages registrants to submit specific situations in advance to enhance our grist for the training mill.
June, September, November – a topic that will either intrigue or depress you: The Professional Will. Why would it depress you? Because most of us prefer to avoid the inevitable knowledge that one day we will no longer be around. This topic has been requested by some folks over the years but arises primarily from my several consultations with mental health professionals who had to “pick up the pieces” after a beloved colleague suddenly passed away.
In all my consultations, the mental health provider died, but some situations present a slightly different twist: the therapist suffers a stroke or other type of sudden, debilitating medical event. Poof! Clinical practice is OVER. Suddenly. Without the therapist’s ability to terminate or even email or text her/his clients. How will clients of the suddenly gone therapist be notified that their therapist will no longer be able to see them for their scheduled appointments this coming week?
These experiences that I have been involved with peripherally caused great angst in the mental health professionals who met with me to figure out what to do and how to do it ethically. They were torn between wanting to notify the deceased therapist’s clients but worrying about entering forbidden territory: CONFIDENTIAL MATERIAL IN CLIENTS’ CASE FILES.
This is the type of dilemma that a Professional Will seeks to avoid. Similar to a personal estate Last Will and Testament, the Professional Will involves planning for an untoward event where the therapist himself/herself has suddenly departed. Moreover, because therapist’s clients are notified ahead of time, the concerns about breach of confidentiality are eliminated; the client has given advance consent – and those of you who have attended my trainings in Self-Protective High-Risk Clinical Practice know I am keen on advance consents in your Intake paperwork because client’s agreement in advance protects you from breach of confidentiality Complaints/Grievances.
Additionally, as you have heard me say frequently in Beyond Ethics, LLC seminars, self-protective practice is not at odds with caring for our clients’ wellbeing, but rather ensures excellence in clinical practice. This is a great example. If you are self and colleague protective by creating a Professional Will, it also serves to give clients notice not only pertaining to the individual who would handle your caseload wrap-up, but also demonstrates to the client that you care for them enough to plan ahead to protect their confidentiality and continuation of care should something happen to you.
Anyway, for more on why we need Professional Wills, how to create them, how to advise our clients of their existence, how to prepare our practices and assemble a team of trusted others who will be ready to jump in … and lots more: Advance Ethical Planning for Therapist’s Unexpected Departure: The Professional Will!!
March – there were about 30 mental health professionals in the Zoom webinar offered to both Louisiana and Colorado clinicians – Walking the Clinical High Wire with Couples, Families and Legal Involvement: Ethical Management of Risk.
One participant who had sent a couple scenarios to me in advance agreed to present them in our meeting. We had a robust discussion of ideas for her that morphed into other issues and analyses. Quite a fun, engaged, and productive 3 hours.
More comments from my most recent seminars:
- “Really good informative seminar…lots of information that I didn’t know I needed but am so glad to have it! Thank you so much!””
- “Great topic and delivery – love Deb’s navigation of the grey areas. Thank you!”
- “I really enjoyed the training; it was quite applicable to practice.”
- “Information presented in a very clear and precise manner with relevant examples.”
- “Great info – very knowledgeable and great examples. Great reminders as well as some new nuggets.”
- “Could have listened to you all day! Great info. Lots to think about.”
- “Thank you for the best Ethics presentation I have been to in 25 years of practice. Your recommendations for protecting ourselves and our clients were exceptional! I will come to any presentation you have in the future. Thank you so very much!”
- “I always enjoy your trainings. I appreciate your flexibility in regards to discussing audience members’ concerns/experiences.”
- “My third seminar with you — you are great! Keep on teaching this class…”
- “Always great! Thank you! Wish you had more throughout the year… You are engaging and positive.”
- “Excellent! I could not think of anything to improve on this workshop. Keep doing what you’re doing.”
- “I thoroughly enjoyed your training. The intimate setting allowed for increased participation. I enjoyed the relevant examples/cases. I have been to Ethics seminars where the presenter went through the code of ethics (boring!). You discussed relevant issues that stimulated our interest in a fascinating way.”
- “Excellent presentation. Very informative and well thought out frame work. Thanks Deb!”
- “Nice work! Very interesting, especially when examining specific case studies.”
Deborah (Deb) Henson is an Attorney and LCSW (Tulane School of Social Work, MSW) in private practice in Colorado and Louisiana, specializing in mental health licensing defense. She represents clinicians in DORA grievances (CO) and licensing board Complaints (LA) and regularly consults with clinicians in both states to help them deal with legal and clinical conundrums, such as: (1) the receipt of subpoenas for records or testimony; (2) the escalation of high-risk clinical situations; and (3) other sticky ethical wickets that arise in clinical practice. Deb helps clinicians develop self-protective, clinically sound and legally proper strategies for risk prevention.
Deb has taught in the MSW programs at Tulane University School of Social Work and the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work. She also serves as Expert Witness for litigation cases around the country involving assertions of malpractice against clinicians. She offers Divorce Mediation long-distance (Zoom; Skype; telephone) in Colorado and Louisiana. See her website for more details.
Deb has been presenting half- and full-day seminars on “Avoiding Ethics Complaints and Malpractice Lawsuits” or “Legal and Ethical Issues in Clinical Practice” around the country through PESI, Inc. for over 7 years and presenting for many CEU groups in Louisiana and Colorado. She also has lectured for Tulane School of Social Work Continuing Education and the University of Texas School of Social Work (Austin) Continuing Professional Development program, and for many other clinical and counseling groups. Deb started her own training biz — Beyond Ethics, LLC — in 2009. Contact Deb for group presentations to agency staff and/or private practice consultation groups.
Deb can be reached through her law and social work web site: www.deborahmhenson.com or through her training web site: www.beyond-ethics.com. Deb can also be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. And, you can use the old tried and true method of calling her at 504.232.8884.