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Handling Today’s Hidden Ethical Dilemmas

Welcome to Handling Today’s Hidden Ethical Dilemmas. This practical and thought-provoking series with leading experts on ethical practice will explore current ethical guidelines for therapists. The first session with Mary Jo Barrett will delve into how to reconcile boundary maintenance and will cover why peer supervision and consultation are vital to ethical therapy, plus many issues that are consistently confusing for clinicians.

How has digital technology changed the ethical challenges practitioners face in the consulting room? Join psychologist Ofer Zur in this practical discussion of the new ethical trials that exist due to new technologies such as email, social media platforms, the Internet, cell phones, and more. Zur will break down the new issues and provide suggestions as to what therapists should do in order to best handle these ethical quandaries.

Join Clifton Mitchell for a practical discussion on the latest legal developments on therapists’ responsibility to handle self-injurious behavior in clients, report abuse or rape, and handle right-to-die issues. Mitchell will delve into significant legal and ethical situations and discuss practical case studies that’ll help you better understand the best ways to deal with these important issues—ethically and legally speaking—in the consulting room.

Learn from veteran therapist William Doherty as he’ll delve into complicated ethical situations by showing video clips from the popular HBO series, “The Sopranos” and “In Treatment” to lead discussions on useful and unbeneficial ways to bring up terminations when clients are no longer benefiting from therapy. Doherty will explain the most common scenarios when termination is—or should be broached—and will go over strategies for initiating termination topic at the right time and in the right way.

During this session you’ll have the opportunity to hear from Steven Frankel, who’s a certified clinical and forensic psychologist as well as an attorney at law. Frankel will discuss the best ways to deliberately avoid the most common ethical dilemmas in order to protect your clients and yourself.

As the final session, Marlene Maheu, a leader and pioneer in telehealth, will discuss how to effectively provide online therapy while maintaining ethical boundaries. She’ll explore such tools as Skype, Google, virtual self-help products, and more.

After the session, please let us know what you think. If you ever have any technical questions or issues, please feel free to email

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15 Responses to Handling Today’s Hidden Ethical Dilemmas

  1. beckypine says:

    Great presentation by Mary Jo Barrett. But the transcript does not match what she said. It appears to be notes or a synopsis from a previous talk on the same subject. Also I am finding the website very confusing. I don’t seem able to see the comments on the comment board. And I can not find anyplace that says when the sessions are originally broadcast. I am starting to think they are all repeats, not ‘live’ even at their first availability.

    • rcoyne says:

      Hi Becky, sorry for any confusion. The transcripts are edited and not a verbatim account of the video; we have updated the webpage to note this. The sessions for all of our webcast series are all pre-recorded and not live, which allows users to access them at any time that is convenient.

  2. rkfleming says:

    Very informative and helpful. Mary Jo’s candid style is refreshing. She supplied us with very useful and strategic techniques that will have practical application for me in my practice. I particularly liked Mary Jo’s humane and respectful approach to the client / helper relationship. Thanks, Rich and Mary Jo

  3. katzbro says:

    I’m having trouble smack in the middle – my video is stopping and not responding to my “click” on the pause/start button. Any suggestions?

    So far the content is good. I appreciate her sensitivities to boundaries as therapeutic, and continual reference to the meta-conversation.

  4. rkfleming says:

    Just completed session with Ofer Zur. Great stuff especially for someone like myself that is “a little less reluctant digital immigrant”. Great useful practical ways to think about the challenges of working in the digital age. Very much like the idea of including a policy piece re this less than clear phenomenon of the workplace today. Thank you.

  5. mbittle mbittle says:

    Clifton Mitchell: I so appreciated the peeling back of layers and distinctions drawn on Duty to Warn (and/or report issues).
    Here is a recent dilemma: Mother (divorced from father)brought in 2 children ~5 & ~6 yr. old sibs. I checked her divorce agreement for her right to bring children to therapy and she had that. Her concern was that she discovered pictures taken by the daughter and a cousin, also female, in which they were posed in what the mother described as lewd sexual positions and acts separately and together – “more than playing doctor.” Mother stated she immediately erased the pictures. Mother suspected daughter had seen similar behaviors or may have engaged in these behaviors when visiting child’s biological father. Child had not given mother satisfactory answers as to where she learned behaviors and became quietly, defensively avoidant from mother’s questioning.
    I assured the mother (both in telephone intake and during informed consent clarification at first session, I could NOT test or prove whether the child(ren) had been exposed visually or physically to human sexual activities or to media pornography, i.e., the limitations of assessment.
    Children had drawing materials in next room while mother and I talked. I proceeded with children by engaging in conversation during playing some games. I asked them to describe a typical day in their home and in their father’s home. I asked some questions to discover the children’s perception of safety and or security at each home. Then I saw each child separately. When talking with the daughter, I worked in questions about the camera-like media device she had gotten for her birthday on which the mother said she found the pictures. The child became withdrawn, gave an answer of having seen pictures like “that” on bio father’s small screen device (ipad?). Then she changed her story and said she saw pictures like this somewhere else that was totally improbable. Neither child offered information about inappropriate physical contact.
    To wrap-up, I told mother that I could find no more information than she had. I did find that children were concerned about Father’s anger, but neither believed it was directed at them, nor did they feel afraid of him. Since there was a question as to whether the children might have been exposed to pornographic media or activities in the father’s home, I advised the mother to report to CPS. She said, “It already has been. CPS had contacted her because Father reported her and now they were investigating her home and his. I ask for a report number, which she denied having with her. Mother said CPS indicated they would contact me. She left saying she would call for a next appointment. She never called back and did not respond to my inquiry to her. CPS never contacted me. By the time I realized she was not going to follow through with our client-provider relationship, a couple of weeks had passed. I have felt guilty since then, because I did not immediately report suspected exposure to pornography and at worst, suspected possible child pornography activities. Should I have reported this case immediately – or later when I realized there was to be no follow-up?

  6. says:

    Dr. Mitchell’s presentation was really helpful,defining what I have struggled with; having a sense of the conflicting frames, accepting the differences between them, was clarifying. As I understand it, you generally favor telling clients when you are going to report – whatever the behavior is. This makes sense to me in the context of a collaborative, working relationship. Are there times and circumstances when you would not do this?

  7. Terry2 says:

    I found the series stimulating, informative and very well done. I assume you can review my test for specific answers and am providing feedback for quality assurance. I do disagree with 2 of the quiz answers and am including transcript locations for Networker staff to consider: #25, read page 12 of transcript if fully numbered to confirm correct answer; #34 read page 7 of transcript re: reimbursement exclusions. Other than these and the misuse of confidence for competence in the transcripts, all went well.

  8. says:

    Dr. Maheu’s presentation was intriguing. I wonder, as this emerges, what costs as well as benefits there may be in working remotely. It also occurs to me that there might be specific uses for it – e.g. certain populatins, certain treatment issues and modalities – as well as clinical situations in which it is not as appropriate or useful. Specifically, what about interpersonal neurobiology based treatments?

  9. enzukent says:

    I have 30 years experience as a psychotherapist, and I wanted to do some addiitonal ;earning. So, I decided to take the Ethics webinar because, as I said to myself,”I know a lot about ethics!”.
    I have learned that i did not know as much as I thought, that more collaboration about ethicla issues is better than less, and that all of this adds up to greater empowerment for the client!

  10. enzukent says:

    Re Duty to Warn: it is great to be reminded of the many things leanred in years past and new changes made since then. Well eprisrnted. East to follow.
    Excellent session!

  11. enzukent says:

    Re Duty to Warn: it is great to be reminded of the many things leanred in years past and new changes made since then. Well eprisrnted. East to follow.
    Excellent session!

  12. enzukent says:


  13. enzukent says:

    This workshop went far beeyonfd the traditional ethics discussion. Looking at this legal issue from a Legal Prospective was the most valuable. After my 30 years in this field, it brought me to think about a thosand things that perhaps could have been litigated. Thank God these things are now forgotten…or are they. I am feeling this fear in my throat, Mr. Franfel. What does that mean? narAo

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