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Live Workshops – The Trust

Ethics and Risk Management: Legal and Ethical Risks and Risk Management in Professional Practice

Experts agree that regardless of what happens with healthcare reform legislation at the state and national level, the industrialization of the healthcare system is going to continue. New practice models will require psychologists to confront an increasingly complex legal environment. The development of an effective risk management strategy will be essential for career and economic survival. 

These are a few of the developments that have increased the liability and disciplinary exposure that psychologists now face. At the same time, many sources report an increase in the number of complaints to licensing boards and professional ethics committees, where even a minor disciplinary sanction can seriously damage or even destroy a career. It is not uncommon for managed care to reject practitioners who have been sanctioned by any disciplinary body or have lost or agreed to non-nuisance settlements in a malpractice case.

Workshop Instructors

Daniel O. Taube, J.D., Ph.D., Amanda Zelechoski, J.D., Ph.D., ABPP and Joe Scroppo, Ph.D., J.D. draw upon their extensive experience in law and clinical practice as well as consultations to psychologists in all aspects of professional practice to develop these nationally acclaimed risk management workshops, specifically designed for psychologists. In addition to reducing the risk of a successful malpractice action, these workshops will show practitioners how to cope with potential complaints to licensing boards and ethics committees, as well as how to respond to the increasing accountability requirements mandated by third party reimbursement sources.

The Trust and The Trust Practice and Risk Management Association (TrustPARMA) currently provide risk management workshops in eight sequences, each with core learning objectives as well as more specific issues and objectives related to the particular sequence. The workshops are often produced in conjunction with state psychological associations, state licensing boards, and other related organizations.

Workshops are designed to help you:

  • Recognize the major elements of disciplinary complaints and malpractice suits;
  • Identify situations that present the greatest risk to practitioners, both now and in the future;
  • Implement a system of specific procedural strategies that will reduce the risk of malpractice actions and disciplinary complaints;
  • Recognize essential information about laws governing therapeutic confidentiality and its exceptions;
  • Implement an effective procedure of providing "informed consent" to clients, including a sample psychologist/patient contract; and,
  • Determine how and when to consult with others to reduce the risk of malpractice.

Sequences and Learning Objectives

Sequence X

Perplexing Problems in Psychological Practice: Decision Science, Ethics & Risk Management

Learning Objectives

  • Describe basic principles of risk management, as applied to several specific clinical situations that frequently arise in professional practice.
  • Identify core heuristics and biasing processes that can interfere with appropriate risk management and ethical decision-making.
  • List three strategies to ameliorate decision-making challenges.
  • Describe preliminary considerations prior to engaging in interjurisdictional practice.
  • Evaluate potential issues and preventive responses to supervisory risks.
  • Identify three methods for reducing privacy risks when using technology in clinical practice and responding appropriately to breaches if they occur.
  • Name three strategies for handling subpoenas and deposition demands.

Sequence IX

Ethics & Risk Management in Complex Clinical Conundrums

Learning Objectives

  • Describe basic principles of risk management, as applied to several specific clinical situations that frequently arise in professional practice.
  • Identify high risk boundary violations and multiple relationship situations.
  • Recall important considerations when making therapeutic termination decisions.
  • Evaluate potential risks when working with children in high conflict families.
  • Formulate a plan for responding to disciplinary or legal complaints.
  • Identify issues and strategies when psychotherapy patients make quasi-forensic requests.

Sequence VIII

Ethics and Risk Management in a Digital World 2.0

Learning Objectives

  • Summarize The Trust's risk management philosophy, including strategies for identifying high risk situations and managing professional practice risks.
  • Develop and review strategies for managing digital record keeping challenges.
  • Describe risks regarding emerging approaches to telepsychology practice.
  • Identify strategies for managing online and social media risks.
  • List three aspects of psychology’s developing state compacts (PSYPACT).
  • Identify three areas in which technology will increasingly impact the practice of psychology.

Sequence VII

Working with Couples and Families, Risk Management with the Suicidal Patient, and Legal and Ethical Issues Presented by Retirement

Learning Objectives

  • Discuss The Trust risk management philosophy, including strategies for identifying high risk situations and managing professional practice risks.
  • Identify strategies for managing potential conflicts in conjoint treatment with couples and families.
  • Identify risk management strategies in working with children with an emphasis on the risks associated with divorced or divorcing families.
  • Identify essential risk management strategies for assessing and managing outpatient suicide risk.
  • Identify “post-vention” strategies for managing risk after a patient suicide.
  • Identify “self care” strategies for psychologists who have suffered the loss of a patient to suicide.
  • Describe the different professional retirement pathways.
  • Identify the advantages and disadvantages of various strategies in planning for your own personal and professional retirement.
  • Describe how to effectively and ethically close a professional practice.

Sequence VI

Ethics and Risk Management in the Age of The Affordable Care Act: Everything You Didn't Want to Know and Were Afraid to Ask

Learning Objectives

  • Summarize the basic principles of The Trust's risk management philosophy.
  • Identify the three major changes in the organization and delivery of healthcare services that will impact psychological practice.
  • Develop a strategy for transitioning to, and working with, electronic health record systems.
  • Develop documentation strategies for interacting with medical homes and other medical healthcare delivery systems.
  • Describe three boundary implications of technology and steps to address them.
  • Summarize the structure through which DHHS is increasing its HIPAA enforcement processes and their implications for practitioners.

Sequence V

Hot Topics in Ethics and Risk Management in Psychological Practice

Learning Objectives

  • Identify the basic principles of a risk management strategy.
  • Establish an approach to identifying and resolving complex, high risk dilemmas that frequently arise in professional practice.

Evaluate and better manage:

  • Challenges presented by the "online world," including online reviews.
  • Difficult, high risk patients in a developing impasse.
  • Uncooperative clients and multiple relationships.

Sequence IV

Adventures on the Electronic Frontier: Ethics and Risk Management in the Digital Era

Learning Objectives

  • Apply basic ethical principles to evaluate risks, benefits and appropriateness of using various electronic communication and social media networking in professional practice in a variety of situations.
  • Identify ethical, legal and disciplinary trends concerning electronic communication that will allow them to anticipate, plan and adjust their practices accordingly.
  • Evaluate when and how to provide remote professional services, therapeutic and otherwise to clients in a way that minimizes disciplinary risk.
  • Understand, apply and integrate the laws and legal principles governing remote practice within and between states.
  • Identify various kinds of professional credentials that will enable them to increase their professional mobility.
  • Develop informed consent and documentation amendments and professional consultation policies to accommodate remote practice and electronic communication.
  • Identify important issues regarding privacy and confidentiality issues created by electronic communication mediums and technologies that present risks, so they can clearly discuss these risks with clients who wish to utilize these technologies.
  • Evaluate and improve their competency to utilize electronic technology and provide remote services to their clients.
  • Discuss and apply specific, positive, ethically based strategies to manage the disciplinary risks presented by remote electronic communication and professional service delivery based on documentation, consultation, informed consent and demonstration of competency.

Sequence III

Ethical Decision Making and Risk Management in Clinical Practice

Learning Objectives

  • Familiarity with the fundamentals of ethical philosophy that are the foundation of all healthcare ethics codes.
  • Understanding how these fundamentals drive the development of ethics codes and professional standards.
  • Recognizing where these fundamentals are specifically expressed in the law and in the 2002 APA Ethics Code.
  • Knowledge of the primary provisions of the 2002 APA Ethics Code.
  • Awareness of how the law impacts ethics codes and the relationship of ethics to law.
  • Expertise in how to use ethical fundamentals in decision-making.
  • Interaction with other colleagues on specific ethical dilemmas, arriving at ethically based decisions on how to deal with difficult cases.

Sequence II

Risk Management Strategies in High Risk Areas

Learning Objectives

  • Applying basic strategies for identifying high risk situations and managing professional practice risks.
  • Better managing interactions with lawyers and the legal system, including responding to subpoenas and other information requests, providing testimony at depositions and in court, and using strategies for interacting with attorneys.
  • Recognizing potential conflicts in conjoint treatment with couples and families, with particular emphasis on the special risks associated with divorce.
  • Describing essential risk management strategies for identifying and managing outpatient suicide risk.
  • Applying ethical and legal standards governing these areas of practice.

Sequence I

General Risk Management Strategies

Learning Objectives

  • Discuss and apply what is new in the world of ethics.
  • Acquire an approach to identifying and resolving ethical dilemmas that arise in professional practice.
  • Identify practice situations that present the greatest risk to clinical practitioners, both now and in the future.
  • Acquire essential information about disciplinary complaints and malpractice actions.
  • Review important HIPAA Privacy Rule issues and be introduced to the HIPAA Security Rule.
  • Provide essential information about laws governing therapeutic confidentiality and exceptions.
  • The distinction between privilege and confidentiality.
  • Determine how and when to consult with others to reduce the risk of disciplinary complaints and demonstrate compliance with the appropriate standards of care.
  • Determine what information should and should not be included in the patient's records.

NOTE: This information is provided as a risk management resource and is not legal advice or an individualized personal consultation. At the time this resource was prepared, all information was as current and accurate as possible; however, regulations, laws, or prevailing professional practice standards may have changed since the posting or recording of this resource. Accordingly, it is your responsibility to confirm whether regulatory or legal issues that are relevant to you have since been updated and/or to consult with your professional advisors or legal counsel for timely guidance specific to your situation. As with all professional use of material, please explicitly cite The Trust as the source if you reproduce or distribute any portion of these resources.

The Trust is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The Trust maintains responsibility for this program and its content.