Not Your Everyday Ethics Talk: What to do when your client’s attorney calls (and you didn’t even know they had an attorney)


Note: This live virtual workshop took place in November 2020. If you’re interested in seeing this topic presented again, please contact us at !

Program Description:

It is all too common for clinical practice to intersect with legal issues. Most clinicians have difficulty navigating these challenging and anxiety-provoking situations. This workshop will focus on one of the most common areas of practice where legal issues arise – high conflict divorce – and how to manage those cases and one’s own anxiety while maintaining clinical boundaries and ethical competence.

For adult clients, high conflict divorce may change what they (or their counsel) are seeking from therapy. For these cases, dilemmas related to confidentiality, responding to subpoenas, dual roles, and records release will be illustrated using case examples and vignettes. Participants will discuss how to avoid getting pulled in to the legal context and becoming too aligned with the client in a manner that is clinically counterproductive.

For child and adolescent clients (and yes, they might also have their own attorneys) participants will learn strategies to maintain a systemic perspective, avoid entanglements with the legal system, and stay focused on clinical issues. One of the most challenging related scenarios is working with child clients who are resisting contact with a parent. Participants will learn the research based rational for describing these cases with “resist-refuse” language rather than “alienation.”

Throughout this talk the limitations of our clinical roles will be explored and the importance of a systemic perspective within high conflict cases will be emphasized.

Learning Objectives

  • Describe biases that impact clinical assessment and intervention within a legal context and identify strategies to minimize these biases.
  • Demonstrate how to respond to legal requests for records and assess how various responses intersect with ethics codes.
  • Identify at least one potential legal entanglement with child clients whose parents are divorcing and a strategy to focus on the relevant clinical issue.
  • Explain the rationale for using “resist-refuse” terminology, and the related ethical issues that arise in these difficult and challenging cases.

Continuing Education Credit – 3 Hours

  • APA – Avant Training is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Avant Training maintains responsibility for this program and its content. This workshop qualifies for Ethics CE hours for psychologists.
  • LCSW –  This workshop is approved for Ethics CE hours through the Georgia Society for Clinical Social Work.
  • LMFT – This workshop is approved for Ethics CE hours through the Georgia Association for Marriage and Family Therapists.
  • LPC – Related hours

Out of stock