Length: 7 hours

Course Overview: 

Mental health professionals are required to take 4-6 hours of continuing education in law and ethics in order to renew their licenses. Too often these programs focus on risk management and impose fear-based rules for practice. This program will apply a clinical perspective to legal and ethical practice and begin by reviewing a model for legal and ethical decision making based on the broad ethical principles that form the basis for most professional ethics codes.

From a position of mutual regard, we will discuss some of the topics that most clinicians confront and struggle with in everyday practice. Rather than establishing defensive rules, we will consider privilege and confidentiality, technology in and out of the office, and the interface between the clinician and the courtroom (records, subpoenas, letters of support) from the position of what makes sense clinically and ethically. Our focus will stay on the needs of the patient and the goals of our work together.

Course Objectives: 
  • Participants will be prepared to use an ethical model that can be applied across a range of clinical and ethical dilemmas with their patients.
  • Participants will have a comprehensive understanding and be able to describe the differences between confidentiality, privacy and privilege.
  • Participants will have assessed the legal and ethical dimensions of telepsychology in the context of psychoanalytic psychotherapy.
  • Participants will be able to apply an ethical model to their use of social media in the context of psychoanalytic psychotherapy.
  • Participants will be able to apply basic guidelines and plans for responding to subpoenas, records requests and testifying with their patient cases.
Empirical Reference: 
  • Donner, M. B., VandeCreek, L., Gonsiorek, J. C., & Fisher, C. B. (2008). Balancing confidentiality: Protecting privacy and protecting the public. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 39(3), 369a.
  • Donner, M., Lareau, C.R., and the 2012 Expertise Series Task Force, (2012). “Letters” and Testimony: Clinicians in the Courtroom. A document in the Division I Expertise Series.

Michael Donner, Ph.D., is the President of SFCP and was co-chair of the faculty and member of their Ethics and Impairment Committee. He was also Chair of the California Psychological Association Ethics Committee. He teaches Law and Ethics in California and across the country.

Target Audience & Level: 

This course is appropriate for pre and post licensed mental health providers who work in a variety of fields. Although the instructional level presents advanced material, it is applicable across a wide range of clinician experience.

Cancellation & Refund Policies: 

Enrollees who cancel at least SEVEN DAYS prior to the event date will receive a refund minus a $35 administrative charge. No refunds will be allowed after this time.  Transfer of registrations are not allowed.

Contact Information: 

For program related questions contact Demetry Apostle at or 415-529-0281.

For questions related to enrollment, locations, CE credit, special needs, course availability and other administrative issues contact Michele McGuinness by email or 415-496-9949.

Education Committee

Shannon Rogers, MFT, Chair
Demetry Apostle, Ph.D.
Stephanie Chen, Ph.D.
Morgan Lloyd, LCSW
Cameron Murphey, MA

CE Credits: 6