Question/Answer Corner: What’s On Your Mind?
This month, I will pass on the Q/A so that I can focus on imparting some info about two mental health boards. Please send in any ethical dilemmas that you have or that you have heard about for next month’s newsletter.
Recent blog posts you might be interested in:
DORA: What’s On the Various Boards’ Radar?
I try to attend all the public Board meetings of all the Mental Health Boards: Social Work, Professional Counselors, Psychologists, Marriage & Family Therapists, Addiction Counselors, and Registered Psychotherapists. Each month, this section will address current issues that arise in various Board meetings that may seem helpful for practicing clinicians.
MFT Board Meeting:
They only had 7 cases on their docket, so the meeting was not very long. Some interesting points that I want to pass along are as follows: (1) many of the grievances involved court-ordered therapists in the context of divorce – so beware! The substance of the grievances had to do with one parent alleging that the therapist was biased against him or her; (2) several of the cases involved – surprisingly, I thought – allegations of friendship that had developed between the MFT and the client; and (3) there were several non-MFT supervisor petitions reviewed for approval and all of them were denied because the Board felt that the non-MFT did not have the requisite training and/or experience in the field of MFT in order to adequately supervise the MFT for licensure.
One noteworthy aspect that I have discussed with licensees, but may not have discussed in this newsletter previously is this: EVEN IF THE COMPLAINT DOES NOT PRESENT ALLEGATIONS THAT THE BOARD FINDS WOULD BE VIOLATIONS, THE BOARD MAY STILL FIND SOMETHING IN THE RECORDS THAT WERE SUBMITTED IN REPSONSE TO THE COMPLAINT THAT IT BELIEVES CONSTITUTES A VIOLATION. So, the take-away is to be careful when defending a grievance. Something you may submit in response to the investigator’s request may wind up being the reason for the Board finding you in violation of some aspect of the Mental Health Practice Act. Best to have an attorney review your submission prior to submitting it.
LPC Board Meeting:
Unlike the MFT Board, the LPC had a HUGE docket of over 30 cases. And, very disturbing to me, there were several allegations of sexual contact between LPCs and their clients. Now, some of these may be proven untrue, but according to the facts presented in the public portion of the meeting, some were definitely true. Seek clinical consultation if you feel that your countertransference is getting troublesome!!
Additionally, the LPC Board heard grievances where the Complainant alleged substance abuse and impairment of the LPC, and one or two where the LPC allegedly failed to report child abuse timely.
AN IMPORTANT CHANGE (and I believe this applies to all mental health boards):
previously, if a therapist was court-appointed to perform a Parental Responsibility Evaluation (PRE), the Boards’ position was that they did not have jurisdiction to consider allegations UNLESS the therapist also performed psychotherapy (which should not be done EVER because it is a blurring of the boundaries). So, because generally the appointed PRE therapists were only doing PRE work, any grievances filed against them by disgruntled parents were dismissed as no jurisdiction. Now the Boards have been advised by their counsels (Assistant Attorney Generals) that they may consider allegations of Practice Act violations even if in the context of court-appointed PREs (and CFIs). Again, parents usually allege bias and the Board was considering this allegation at the meeting I attended rather than dismissing it for lack of jurisdiction as was the practice in the past.
What people said about my most recent seminar:
- “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!”
- “Presenter was engaging, knowledgeable, and very thorough.”
- “Great seminar and very informative. Thank you!”
- “Very intriguing and engaging session.”
- “Nice work! Very interesting, especially when examining specific case studies.”
NEW to Deb’s Practice
(1) Referrals being accepted for women’s therapy group to begin later this fall. Good candidates include women between ages approximately 35 – 60 who are undergoing a significant life transition, such as (a) loss of job, (b) major health issue, (c) divorce or death of partner, or (d) depression/anxiety that you believe group work would help. Client would continue in individual therapy with referring therapist – group would only augment clinical work. Group will meet in the evening at Deb’s Lakewood office.
If you would like to discuss a possible referral, please call me at 504.232.8884.
(2) Deb has recently attended a fabulous seminar on Working with Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Clients – children through adults. One take-away was that the families of Gender non-conforming children and teens are incredibly underserved. So, Deb is offering family counseling to those who have a LGBTQ kid of any age coming out. If sufficient referrals come forth, Deb will start a multi-family group, which is very potent for families who feel isolated as in these situations. For more info, please call or have the family member call Deb at 504.232.8884. Deb is also a new Board member for PFLAG and will be assisting with the support groups in the near future, including the family and significant other support groups.
(3) Post-Divorce Facilitation – if any of your clients are considering divorce or have recently gotten divorced, I am available to help facilitate the process between the parents with the co-parenting of their children. It takes a new headset to become successful, non-conflictual co-parents, especially when the baggage of divorce litigation is hanging heavy over their heads. If you want more information about the co-parenting facilitation, feel free to email or call me or have the interested client contact me.
(4) My therapy office in Lakewood (Green Mountain area) is available for reasonable subletting by day, half-day, or evening. A couple evenings have been taken, but some remain as do a few days or half-days. Please check out my listing on Craigslist Denver or call me for more info or to schedule a time to visit the office.
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)
Deb Henson is an Attorney and LCSW (Tulane School of Social Work, MSW) in private practice in Denver and New Orleans, 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 also maintains a clinical practice in Denver, with an office in the Green Mountain area of Lakewood. Through that private practice, Deb offers individual and couple therapy, primarily, and will be starting an ongoing women’s therapy group in the Fall (ages 35-65; interviews for group placement will be conducted upon referral). Referrals for the group are welcome – 504.232.8884.
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 email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. And, you can use the old tried and true method of calling her at 504.232.8884.