UPCOMING GROUP TRAINING in 2018
BEYOND ETHICS, LLC WORKSHOP
1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
CO Executive Club
1776 S. Jackson Street
Conference Room B (basement)
Denver, CO 80210
“Authentic Use of Self in Legal Involvement”
I will be providing this training in the Denver area this year. Save the date and be sure to look for the email notifications from my training business, BEYOND ETHICS, LLC.
In the workshops, I always incorporate some type of ethical conundrums for high-risk clinical practices, including ways to manage high-risk clinical practices that involve demands for records from clients and/or attorneys. I also help clinicians understand how to prepare for depositions and/or trial testifying.
Trainings are three (3) hours and will be 1:00 to 4:00 on Friday, October 12th, 2018. We had a good turnout for the May 11th training, so be sure to join us for this next one in a few months.
NOTE: If you are not on Deb’s email list for Beyond Ethics, LLC trainings and would like to receive notification (or your friend or colleague isn’t getting this email and wants to sign up), please go to beyond-ethics.com and sign up for Deb’s newsletter and training email notices.
Some of the participants had this to say about Deb’s training:
- “Deb provides awesome, thought-provoking info. I wish my agency would have had this info available for the clinicians before we went on the stand [at trial].”
- “Deb is such an incredible speaker – and knowledgeable. I really appreciate everything [she] does to advocate for social workers and the mental health profession(s).”
- “Very lively and informative. Made a serious subject clearer.”
- “Great topic and delivery – love Deb’s navigation of the grey areas. Thank you!”
- “Deb presented excellent information that I feel will help me with my practice. Excellent info! Great workshop.”
- “I attend multiple, legal, ethical practice trainings and Deb is excellent in presentation. Thank you!”
- “Great advice about staying balanced/grounded in testifying.”
- “I appreciate Deborah being both a clinician and an attorney. Frightening possibilities regarding DORA, but [she helped me] know what possible protections I can possibly provide for clients and myself.”
Question/Answer Corner: What’s On Your Mind?
Q: If you have a grievance filed against you, should you respond to the investigator’s request for a telephone call?
A: My unequivocal answer is “NO!” – but, you cannot just ignore him. Most people who I have represented and/or people I have talked with who received grievances (colleagues, not my clients) have stated that they either were very glad they had an attorney to run interference for them and handle the process of responding to DORA, or (if they did not seek representation) said they wish they had retained a lawyer to help them with the difficult process.
I am not just trying to market here for new clients; I have plenty, unfortunately (for them, not me!!). But, over the years that I have been working with licensing boards in Colorado and Louisiana, there is one common denominator that stands out from all else: licensees who receive grievances benefit by legal counsel.
Why? The licensing boards employ investigators who are from the law enforcement arena. These are not social workers or LPCs – they are former DEA agents (one of them boasts) or from some other type of law enforcement background. When they “interview” a licensee who has been accused of unethical professional conduct, those who have endured such “interviews” (I put quotations around the word because it is really much more like an interrogation, although they call it an interview, or a chat) routinely report that they wish they had not voluntarily walked into the lion’s den.
So, that’s my answer. Brave souls may want to tread on that path alone and if you choose that method of handling the grievance, I wish you (sincerely) all the best of luck. My advice from the vantage point of much experience in the field is to retain a lawyer to assist you. Let the lawyer answer the request from the investigator. I tell my clients that once they retain me, I file my letter of representation with DORA and the investigator (if one has been assigned) and from that point on, I serve as a shield for my clients from DORA. Not that DORA is the big, bad mean monster, but let’s face it, they do have the power and I like to think that with counsel, the balance is tipped a bit more favorably toward a fair, thorough examination of the facts, not tipped toward the often false or exaggerated allegations of the Complainant.
Best news is that you will not receive a grievance. Here’s hoping!!
A New Adventure (or, “An Old Dog Plans to Learn a New Trick!!”)
I recently got a wild hair to do something I have wanted to do for many, many years. Time never seemed to permit such a lark, what with working two careers and raising two fabulous children. (I like things in TWOs – being a Gemini, perhaps).
So, my new adventure is this: I am moving to Northampton, Massachusetts (home of Smith College School of Social Work, among many other colleges and universities in a 15-mile radius) to open a Bed and Breakfast in a Second Empire Victorian beauty built in 1868. The house is in a historic district three blocks from downtown shops and restaurants in the quirky, progressive, academic town of Northampton. One of its claims to fame is that the first Mayor of Northampton lived in the house in the late 1880s.
Other blog posts you might be interested in:
Transforming Our Relationships With Our Adult Children
Separation Pondering, Continued
Pondering Separation of All Types
Control Versus Resilience: Emotional Balance
Multi-Career Professionals or Juggling Many Balls
DORA: What’s On the Various Boards’ Radar?
I try to attend many of the public Board meetings of all the Mental Health Boards: Social Work, Professional Counselors, Psychologists, Marriage & Family Therapists, Addiction Counselors, and Registered Psychotherapists. Each newsletter, this section will address current issues that arise in various Board meetings that may seem helpful for practicing clinicians.
The following is a statistical view of numbers of grievances filed against the various six (6) mental health disciplines for the period of 2015-2016:
COLORADO: STATISTICS ON NUMBERS OF GRIEVANCES FILED BY DISCIPLINE
2016 Statistics on Number of Grievances Filed by Discipline
2015 Statistics on Number of Grievances Filed by Discipline
These numbers have some value to each mental health discipline, but of course would make most sense if we had a total number for each profession. That way we could figure out percentages. DORA has advised me that to get such totals, I would have to download all licensees and actually count them to arrive at the total. Any of you who want to pursue this can email me the totals and I will add them to the next newsletters with percentages; that is, number of grievances filed divided by the total number of licensees in that discipline.
Short of that math exercise, I think it is useful to just look at the numbers of grievances in each discipline and draw the following conclusions from these two years of reporting:
- All disciplines have experienced an INCREASE in numbers of grievance from 2015 to 2016. DORA did not give me the number of grievances filed in 2017, but we can assume the grievance number still rose last year. This increase tells us that clients and, importantly, divorce lawyers (that is the underlying context many of the grievances arise from in my experience and even if the divorcing person him or herself files the grievance, it often appears to be precipitated and/or written by the lawyers, perhaps to get the therapist to withdraw from being the child’s therapist), are becoming increasingly aware of how to lash out at therapists. This increase also tells us that therapists must be increasingly vigilant in practicing in a SELF-PROTECTIVE manner, so if this is a bit of a plug for my seminars in Self-Protective Clinical Practice, so be it.
- In the various disciplines, the biggest increase is found in MFTs with over 3 times the number of grievances from 2015 to 2016. Following the MFT increase, grievances also increased for LPCs in 2016 – a little over twice the number of grievance filed in 2015. The reason for this is not clear. Some ideas: (a) maybe more therapists have joined the ranks of these two disciplines, thus, with more licensees, there are overall more grievances; or (b) maybe more clients are choosing to see MFTs and LPCs than in previous years, thus increasing the potential pool of Complainants. It is hard to say without the total number of licensees for each discipline in each reporting year.
Suffice it to say, the filing of grievances is on the rise. Be forewarned and practice carefully. Remember to consider self-protective clinical practice with high-risk cases, especially families experiencing divorce, which is the context of many of the grievances filed against my therapist-clients.
Come to my seminars!! It will help you put on that hat of practicing in a self-protective manner, which never means at the expense of your client. Remember, I was a clinical social worker before becoming a lawyer (still am a practicing LCSW) and my suggestions for self-protective practice always enhance the quality of the clinical service to the client, while keeping in mind the vulnerability of the therapist in this increasingly litigious day and age.
What people said about my most recent seminars:
- “Information presented in a very clear and precise manner with relevant examples.”
- “I really enjoyed the training; it was quite applicable to practice.”
- “Excellent presentation and interactions.”
- “Excellent, informative and concise.”
- “This seminar was extremely insightful and Deb’s delivery and presentation was right up my alley!”
- “I think Deb is a great presenter.”
- “Great job as usual!”
- “Enjoy your workshops – always so informative and interesting. Time flies!”
- “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.”
- “Excellent presentation. Very informative and well thought out frame work. Thanks Deb!”
Training/Consultation For Clinicians/Agencies
I have been providing training for high risk clinical situations and legal involvement of the therapist for groups in Colorado. I consult with individual practitioners, small groups of clinicians, and agencies to help therapists prepare for deposition or trial testimony, or to handle a subpoena request for clinical records.
I am available to teleconference with individual therapists who need risk prevention consultation and/or with groups of any size for any type of self-protective, clinical practice in this litigious age. I can custom tailor training to your particular agency or small group with questions submitted in advance by participants, if desired.
Legal Services Offered
- Legal Representation & Consultation for grievances (complaints) to licensing boards and/or malpractice lawsuits
- Training & Consultation for Clinicians and Agencies (e.g., respond ethically to subpoenas while protecting yourself and your clients; identify high-risk clients and situations to avoid client disciplinary complaints and harm to clients or third parties)
Please let others with whom you work know about my newsletters and trainings. The more clinicians who are able to receive information about staying off DORA’s radar and/or dealing with tricky attorney issues, the better. Thanks!!
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.