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Level I: Part Three: Class 9 – Trauma and the Therapeutic Alliance: Processing Ethics, Reporting Issues and Termination

June 27 Join Zoom 8:30 am; Training 8:45 am - 4:15 pm (EST) , 6 CEUs (includes 3 Ethics CEUs) Presenter: Lisa Ferentz, LCSW-C, DAPA Zoom, MD + Google Map

This class is only open to participants of the Level I program.

For information about the Level I Trauma Certificate Program, click here.

Workshop Description

The first three hours of this workshop will focus on ethical issues that can arise in therapy when treating traumatized clients. We will discuss the professional obligations of mental health providers, along with the Code of Ethics from several Professional Boards. Participants will also learn about the latest amendments to the Code of Ethics that focus on issues related to tele-therapy. The six major legal duties will be processed including: the duty of care; the duty to respect privacy and confidentiality; the duty to inform, warn, and report.  Clinical issues related to appropriate record-keeping, self-determination, dual relationships, conflicts of interest, and boundary-setting will be examined. We will also address the process of reporting suspected cases of child abuse and neglect as well as  reporting past abuse that adult clients disclose in therapy. We will trace the process followed by CPS when a report is made and compare the ways in which different jurisdictions handle their investigations. We will also discuss the concept of iatrogenic damage and the impact it can have on clients. Participants will  learn about specific red flags that can signify deviations in the standard care and the clinical choices that can put therapists on an ethically slippery slope.

In the second half of the workshop, we will look at issues related to termination, including the reactions that both clients and therapists can have when therapy ends. We will process the five most common types of endings and why some traumatized clients are unable to terminate in a way that brings healthy closure to their work. We will also discuss how to respond when a client discontinues treatment without informing the therapist. In the case of a planned termination, participants will learn about a specific ritual ending that allows both therapist and client to acknowledge and celebrate the successes and gains that have been made.

Learning Objectives

  1. Identify and discuss Dolgoff’s ethical principles and the hierarchy of professional responsibilities and obligations.
  2. Identify at least five red flags that indicate compromised therapists’ ethics
  3. Discuss the specific duties of social work practice including: the duty to protect life, to report and warn, and the preservation of client confidentiality.
  4. Identify and describe legal issues of reporting abuse and neglect.
  5. Analyze the impact that reporting has on the therapeutic relationship and identify ways to reframe reporting as an act of client empowerment.
  6. Distinguish between five different termination modes and the roles that both clients and therapists play with each one.
  7. Identify at least three clinical reasons why clients engage in unplanned terminations.
  8. Describe the most appropriate process for planned terminations and identify at least four issues that emerge when therapy ends.
  9. Describe and implement a closing ritual for a planned termination that allows the client and therapist to celebrate successes in treatment.


8:45-10:00 am

  • Reviewing a few test questions
  • Ethical considerations for mental health providers
  • Dolgoff’s hierarchy of responsibilities
  • The 6 Legal obligations- case examples

10:00-10:07 am                 Break

10:07-11:00 am

  • New amendments in the Code of Ethics
  • Issues related to reporting abuse and neglect
  • Legal definitions of abuse and neglect
  • How to make reporting empowering not punitive

11:00-11:08 am                   Break

11:08-12:00 pm

  • CPS Responses: Investigations and Alternative Responses
  • Clinical Issues of Ambiguity
  • Clinical Red Flags
  • Deviations in the standard of care: dual relationships; conflicts of interest; inappropriate boundaries; record-keeping

12:00-1:00 pm                      Lunch

1:00-2:00 pm

  • Issues of Termination: the impact on the client and the impact on the therapist
  • The five most common endings: the role that therapists and clients play in the decision-making process

2:00-2:08 pm                        Break

2:08-3:00 pm

  • Processing video clips depicting termination scenes
  • Addressing client discontinuation
  • How to respond to an unplanned termination

3:00-3:07 pm                         Break

3:07-4:15 pm

  • A ritual for getting healthy closure and celebrating successes
  • Breakout rooms: processing termination
  • Celebrating your graduation!
Lisa Ferentz, LCSW-C DAPA