Follow These Simple Rules To Keep Your License & Avoid Complaints If You Are a Counselor or Psychotherapists

George Indest HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

I represent many mental health counselors, social workers, psychologists, and professional counselors, defending them on complaints being investigated against their professional licenses. Many complaints and investigations arise because the therapist has strayed over the line and crossed the therapist-client boundary. In reviewing these cases, I have drawn up a list of a few simple “bright line” rules that can help save you many hours of stress and mental anguish as well as thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees and costs defending yourself

These “rules” may seem to be common sense, but there they are, anyway:

1. DO NOT ever meet the client at an outside social activity or attend a social event with the client. This includes “just dinner” or “just-drinks.”

2. DO NOT text the client. Texting is not secure and leads to casual and unprofessional thinking and conversation with the client. Many health care institutions prohibit their physicians and employees from texting with clients because of the HIPAA Security and Privacy Rules. You can use that as an excuse if you need one.

3. DO take a screenshot and print out the text when you violate the above rule. Place it in the client’s health record because you will probably be seeing it again, attached to a complaint.

4. DO send an e-mail or, better yet, a professional letter to the client, instead of texting the client. Print out a copy and place it in the client’s health record, because you will probably see it again.

5. DO NOT EVER make any suggestive or sexual remarks to the client in any communications, oral or written or text, or e-mail. In fact, DON’T even think about it. This includes off-color jokes and comments.

6. DO immediately terminate the relationship with the client, transferring care to a different therapist, if the client suggests anything of a sexual nature involving you.

7. DO NOT talk about other clients with the client.

8. DO NOT talk about your own personal life with the client. Especially DO NOT let the client have your personal home address or personal e-mail address.

9. DO NOT ever have sex with a client or former client. DO NOT even think of it. If you start to think of it, see Rule 6, above. Consider clients and former clients “off-limits” no matter how much you are tempted. If you are religious, just consider this as an attempt by Satan to seduce you. If it works, you are going to be in Hell, even before you die.

10. DO know what professional boundaries are and DO NOT cross them. This includes allowing a personal relationship to grow between you and the client, and includes selling anything to the client (e.g., Girl Scout cookies, tickets to a charitable event, Amway products, candy bars for your kids’ school band, etc.), agreeing to meet the client at any outside event, accepting gifts from the client, hiring the client to work for you, accepting “voluntary” services from the client (including volunteering to work in your office). If you need a friend that bad, terminate the therapist-client relationship and see Rule 6, above.

11. DO know that if you have even a suspicion that your therapist-client relationship is getting out of bounds, then it already is out of bounds. See Rule 6, above.

12. DO call a professional therapist colleague who is more senior to you and consult her or him about the “situation” if you think there may be a “situation.”

These may sound like “no-brainers” to you, but you would be surprised at how many complaints against licensed counselors and psychologists there are as a result of violating one or more of these “rules.”

(Note: These “rules” are just guidelines meant to help you keep out of trouble; these are not meant to be enforced against anyone, nor do they create or represent any “standard of care.”)

For additional information on how our firm can assist you in matters like this, click here to read one of our prior blogs.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced Investigations of Mental Health Counselors, Psychologists, Social Workers, and Family Therapists.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to mental health counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and family therapists in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) investigations, board hearings, FBI investigations, and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers. To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or toll-free at (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

We also defend health professionals and health facilities in general litigation matters and business litigation matters.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2021 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

By |2024-02-19T19:00:48-05:00February 21, 2024|Categories: Health Facilities Law Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Says Serial Killer Cannot Sue Psychiatrist for Medical Malpractice

author headshot standing in dark suit with arms crossedBy: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law and Hartley Brooks, Law Clerk, The Health Law Firm

On November 22, 2023, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania unanimously decided that a serial killer cannot sue his psychiatrist for gross negligence because the action is barred by the Pennsylvania state law that prohibits criminals from benefitting from their crimes.

The Murderer’s Mental Health History.

In February 2016, Cosmo DiNardo was diagnosed with a major depressive disorder. Three months later, DiNardo was in an ATV accident in which he sustained head injuries. His mother reported that he began acting bizarrely a month after the accident. Additionally, DiNardo was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. He was prescribed strong antidepressants and antipsychotics.

DiNardo also had a violent history. During his institutionalizations, he allegedly attacked his mother and father on multiple occasions, as well as hospital staff members. He was also allegedly banned from his high school campus and university due to behavioral issues. It is also reported that doctors reported that DiNardo had homicidal and suicidal tendencies.

The Murders and Mr. DiNardo’s Confession.

On July 5, 2017, Cosmo DiNardo lured a 19-year-old to his family’s farm and shot and killed him. The next night, he and his cousin lured three more young men to the property and killed them as well. DiNardo and his accomplice disposed of the bodies by burning and burying them on the property. DiNardo was arrested days later after police located the grave site on the farm. He confessed to the murders.

In May 2018, DiNardo pleaded guilty to four counts of first-degree murder. He is serving four consecutive life sentences.

The Complaint Against the Psychiatrist.

DiNardo’s mother filed a complaint on DiNardo’s behalf that claimed his criminal conduct was the result of grossly negligent psychiatric treatment. In early 2017, the treating psychiatrist was alleged to have deemed DiNardo to be in remission from his bipolar disorder and reduced his medication dosage.

On July 6, 2017, the day after he murdered his first victim, DiNardo had an appointment with the psychiatrist. The psychiatrist continued to believe that DiNardo was not a risk to himself or others and advised him to cease his medication intake. That night, he murdered three more people.

The complaint claimed that if it were not for the psychiatrist’s grossly negligent failure to assess DiNardo’s risk for violence, then he would not have been involved in the murders. The complaint sought compensation for the emotional distress and pain DiNardo endured because he murdered four people and will live the rest of his life in prison.

Pennsylvania’s No Felony Conviction Recovery Rule.

The no felony conviction recovery rule is a Pennsylvania state law that prohibits convicted felons from profiting or benefitting from their criminal conduct. This law barred DiNardo’s mother’s complaint against the psychiatrist.

DiNardo pleaded guilty to four counts of first-degree murder. He did not plead insanity or guilty but was mentally ill. He pleaded guilty and thus accepted full responsibility as an active participant in the murders. Therefore, he must bear the losses sustained from his criminal actions.

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania unanimously decided that the no felony conviction recovery rule barred the complaint because the compensation sought would benefit DiNardo for his criminal conduct.

Although the outcome of this case turned on an idiosyncrasy in Pennsylvania law, it is doubtful that the case would have ever made it beyond the summary judgment stage anyway. There are no facts showing hope the psychiatrist would have had any way of knowing facts other than what the patient reported to her. There was no evidence that the parents had attempted to take any action to have DiNardo involuntarily confined or treated for mental illness, filed for guardianship, attended sessions with the psychiatrist, or anything else. Perhaps they should have.

This modern trend of blaming others for our shortcomings (and those of our children, needs to stop).

Psychiatrists are not miracle workers. They cannot read people’s minds. They cannot predict the future.

Furthermore, it is common knowledge (thanks in part to the HBO series “The Sopranos” and its storyline of Tony Soprano’s sessions with his psychiatrist, that there have been journal articles reporting that psychopaths and serial killers may use sessions with psychiatrists as a tool to sharpen their skills at deception and learn how to avoid getting caught and convicted.) (I don’t usually quote fictitious medical studies articles from fictitious TV series and movies, but actor Peter Bogdanovich, playing psychiatrist Elliot Kupferberg, was pretty convincing on this issue.)

The precedential case on the liability of psychiatrists for misdiagnosing murderers is, of course, Tarasoff vs. Board of Regents of the University of California, 17 Cal. 3d 425, 551 P.2d 334, 131 Cal. Rptr. 14 (Cal. 1976). This case is necessary for reading and educating all psychiatrists, psychologists, and psychotherapists.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Health Care Professionals and Providers.

At the Health Law Firm, we provide legal services for all health care providers and professionals. This representation includes psychiatrists, mental health counselors, social workers, psychologists, physicians, nurses, dentists, psychologists, medical students and interns, and other health care providers.

The lawyers of The Health Law Firm are experienced in both formal and informal administrative hearings and in civil litigation in state and federal courts. We represent physicians and other health professionals in cases before medical boards, before state licensing agencies, and in National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) disputes. We represent physicians accused of wrongdoing, in patient complaint investigations and in Department of Health and in board licensing investigations in other states investigations.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or toll-free (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Cipriano, Ralph. “The Untold Tale of Cosmo DiNardo’s Descent Into Murder and Madness.” Philadelphia City Life. (25 February 2020) https://www.phillymag.com/news/2020/02/25/cosmo-dinardo/

Dinardo v. Kohler No. J-8A-B-2023 (E.D. Pa. November 22, 2023)

D’Annunzio, P.J.. “Pa. Murderer Can’t Sue Doctors For Psychiatric Malpractice.” Law360. (27 November 2023) https://www.law360.com/health/articles/1769646?nl_pk=0cbd4c0b-c6c8-416a-9e67-b4affa63b102&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=health&utm_content=2023-11-28&read_main=1&nlsidx=0&nlaidx=13

Henry, Tanya Albert. “He killed 4 men. Now he seeks compensation from his care team.” American Medical Association. (9 December 2022) https://www.ama-assn.org/practice-management/sustainability/he-killed-4-men-now-he-seeks-compensation-his-care-team

About the Authors: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law; he is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Hartley Brooks is a law clerk with The Health Law Firm. Its main office is in Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.

Attorney Positions with The Health Law Firm. The Health Law Firm is always looking for qualified attorneys interested in health law practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. If you are a member of The Florida Bar and are interested, forward a cover letter and your resume to: [email protected] or fax to: (407) 331-3030.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2024 George F. Indest III, The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced in any way in any medium without the written permission of the copyright owner. The author of this work reserves the right to have his name associated with any use or publication of this work or any part of it.

Tele-behavioral Health: Important Legal Considerations for Mental Health Providers

By Amanda I. Forbes, J.D.

Starting in 2020 and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, tele-behavioral health services, also known as “e-counseling,” rapidly expanded. Because individuals were quarantined or fearful to venture out, remote mental health care services became very popular among patients. A study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), including 36 million working-age individuals, revealed that tele-health services increased by 766% in the first three months of the pandemic.

Thanks to remote services like tele-behavioral health, the doctor’s “house call” is making a comeback;  but instead of ringing the doorbell, your doctor will be ringing your smartphone.

What is Tele-behavioral Health?

The National Institute of Mental Health defines telebehavioral health as “the use of telecommunications or videoconferencing technology to provide remote mental health services.” Providers can use video conferencing, text messaging, or smartphone apps. Additionally, many different types of behavioral health services are available remotely.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) says remote visits are a safe and convenient way for mental and behavioral health providers to offer services such as:

1. One-on-one and group therapy
2. Substance abuse counseling
3. Medication management and prescribing
4. Anxiety and depression monitoring
5. Mental health screening
6. Referrals

What Are the Potential Benefits?
Tele-behavioral health services enable clinicians to reach more patients, such as people living in rural areas, working irregular hours, and homebound patients. It removes patient barriers to attending in-person appointments, such as taking time off work, transportation, and arranging childcare.

The Downside to Tele-behavioral Health.

In addition to its convenience, tele-behavioral health also ushers in a new era of risks for treatment providers to be aware of.  It’s particularly true if the counseling occurs via text or a similar instant messaging application. As a licensed mental health care professional, you must know about liability exposures and ways to improve patient safety.
Click here to read about a case study demonstrating the issues that can arise when conducting tele-behavioral health.
When it comes to tele-behavioral health services and technology, there are significant legal considerations to think about.
To make sure you can provide remote counseling effectively while handling the risks that come with it, follow these risk management tips and recommendations:

1. Obtain the necessary training to provide telebehavioral health services. Take continuing education units (CEUs) in tele-behavioral health and retain any certificates of completion associated with those CEUs.

2. Determine whether tele-behavioral health treatment is in the client’s best interest. The provider should consider the following: Can the client effectively use the technology required for tele-behavioral health?  Does the client’s insurance cover telebehavioral health services?  Is the client emotionally and cognitively compatible with this treatment modality?

3. Obtain informed consent from the client.  In addition, document the purpose of the counseling, the use of technology to facilitate the tele-behavioral health services, and confidentiality and privacy. Obtain informed consent by having the client sign a consent form.  Have a document record of the consent process and consent form in the client’s file.

4. Providers must adhere to encryption standards. Some examples are using a secure platform, ensuring that the vendor signs a HIPAA Business Associate Agreement, which is required by HIPAA laws and regulations, and stating the vendor will follow federal privacy requirements.
5. Ensure client confidentiality by advising them of their responsibility to be in a private space during the telebehavioral health session. Document this discussion and include this as part of your agreement with the client.

6. Providers must check their state and third-party requirements related to tele-behavioral health services, credentialing, and licensure. Contact your respective licensing board for additional information and consult a health law attorney if unsure.

To read one of our prior blogs on telehealth services and learn more information on this growing area of practice, click here.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced Investigations of Mental Health Counselors, Psychologists, Social Workers, and Family Therapists.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to mental health counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and family therapists in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) investigations, board hearings, FBI investigations, and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers. We also defend health professionals and health facilities in general litigation matters and business litigation matters.
To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or toll-free: (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Counselor Liability Claim Report: 2nd Edition.”CNA AND HPSO COUNSELOR SPOTLIGHT: Telebehavioral Health”. Healthcare Providers Service Organization (HPSO). (2019). https://www.hpso.com/getmedia/f9369f13-7035-4955-bcb6-9843b9ff44c2/counselor-spotlight-telebehavioral-health.pdf 
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). “Telehealth and behavioral health”. (July 25, 2023).https://telehealth.hhs.gov/patients/telehealth-and-behavioral-health#:~:text=Telehealth%20is%20a%20safe%20and,a%20long%2Dterm%20treatment%20plan. 
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). “What is Telemental Health?” (Accessed on December 12, 223). https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/what-is-telemental-health 


About the Author:
Amanda I. Forbes, practices health law with The Health Law Firm in its Altamonte Springs, Florida, office. Its main office is in Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com. The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave. Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or toll-free: (888) 331-6620.


Attorney Positions with The Health Law Firm.
The Health Law Firm is always looking for qualified attorneys interested in health law practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. If you are a member of The Florida Bar and are interested, forward a cover letter and your resume to: [email protected] or fax to: (407) 331-3030.
“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2024 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced in any fashion in any medium for any purpose without the written permission of the copyright owner.  The copyright owner asserts the right to have its name associated with the use of any part of this work.
By |2024-01-02T16:27:10-05:00January 2, 2024|Categories: Mental Health Law Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

Mental Health Counselors and Psychotherapists: Simple Rules for Keeping Your License and Avoiding Complaints

George Indest HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

I represent many mental health counselors, social workers, psychologists, and professional counselors, defending them on complaints being investigated against their professional licenses. Many complaints and investigations arise because the therapist has strayed over the line and crossed the therapist-client boundary. In reviewing these cases, I have drawn up a list of a few simple “bright line” rules that can help save you many hours of stress and mental anguish as well as thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees and costs defending yourself

These “rules” may seem to be common sense, but there they are, anyway:

1. DO NOT ever meet the client at an outside social activity or attend a social event with the client. This includes “just dinner” or “just-drinks.”

2. DO NOT text the client. Texting is not secure and leads to casual and unprofessional thinking and conversation with the client. Many health care institutions prohibit their physicians and employees from texting with clients because of the HIPAA Security and Privacy Rules. You can use that as an excuse if you need one.

3. DO take a screenshot and print out the text when you violate the above rule. Place it in the client’s health record because you will probably be seeing it again, attached to a complaint.

4. DO send an e-mail or, better yet, a professional letter to the client, instead of texting the client. Print out a copy and place it in the client’s health record, because you will probably see it again.

5. DO NOT EVER make any suggestive or sexual remarks to the client in any communications, oral or written or text, or e-mail. In fact, DON’T even think about it. This includes off-color jokes and comments.

6. DO immediately terminate the relationship with the client, transferring care to a different therapist, if the client suggests anything of a sexual nature involving you.

7. DO NOT talk about other clients with the client.

8. DO NOT talk about your own personal life with the client. Especially DO NOT let the client have your personal home address or personal e-mail address.

9. DO NOT ever have sex with a client or former client. DO NOT even think of it. If you start to think of it, see Rule 6, above. Consider clients and former clients “off-limits” no matter how much you are tempted. If you are religious, just consider this as an attempt by Satan to seduce you. If it works, you are going to be in Hell, even before you die.

10. DO know what professional boundaries are and DO NOT cross them. This includes allowing a personal relationship to grow between you and the client, and includes selling anything to the client (e.g., Girl Scout cookies, tickets to a charitable event, Amway products, candy bars for your kids’ school band, etc.), agreeing to meet the client at any outside event, accepting gifts from the client, hiring the client to work for you, accepting “voluntary” services from the client (including volunteering to work in your office). If you need a friend that bad, terminate the therapist-client relationship and see Rule 6, above.

11. DO know that if you have even a suspicion that your therapist-client relationship is getting out of bounds, then it already is out of bounds. See Rule 6, above.

12. DO call a professional therapist colleague who is more senior to you and consult her or him about the “situation” if you think there may be a “situation.”

These may sound like “no-brainers” to you, but you would be surprised at how many complaints against licensed counselors and psychologists there are as a result of violating one or more of these “rules.”

(Note: These “rules” are just guidelines meant to help you keep out of trouble; these are not meant to be enforced against anyone, nor do they create or represent any “standard of care.”)

For additional information on how our firm can assist you in matters like this, click here to read one of our prior blogs.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced Investigations of Mental Health Counselors, Psychologists, Social Workers, and Family Therapists.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to mental health counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and family therapists in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) investigations, board hearings, FBI investigations, and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers. To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or toll-free at (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

We also defend health professionals and health facilities in general litigation matters and business litigation matters.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2021 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

By |2023-12-25T19:07:01-05:00December 27, 2023|Categories: Mental Health Law Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

Mental Health Counselors: Follow These Rules To Prevent Complaints and Keep Your Professional License

Author HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

Licensed mental health counselors, psychologists, and other mental health care professionals are potential targets of licensure complaints from clients in any practice setting. Many legal situations and cases arise because the therapist has strayed over the line and crossed the therapist-client boundary. In reviewing the many disciplinary complaints and lawsuits I have handled, I have put together a list of simple “straightforward” rules. Following these rules can help save you many hours of stress and mental anguish and thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees and costs defending yourself.

These rules may appear to be so simple you would classify them as “common sense.” But you would be surprised at how often they are violated by even the best, most conscientious counselors.

These “Rules” May Seem Common Sense, But You Might Be Surprised:

1. DO NOT ever meet the client at an outside social activity or attend a social event with the client. These events include things like “just dinner” or “drinks.” Keep it professional.

2. DO NOT text the client. Texting is not secure and leads to casual and unprofessional thinking and conversations with the client. Many health care institutions prohibit their physicians and employees from texting with clients because of the HIPAA Security and Privacy Rules. You can use that as an excuse if you need it.

3. DO send an e-mail or a professional letter to the client instead of texting. Print out a copy and place it in the client’s health record because you will probably see it again.

4. DO NOT EVER make any suggestive or sexual remarks to the client in any communications, oral or written, text or e-mail. DON’T even think about it. This includes off-color jokes and comments.

5. DO immediately terminate the relationship with the client, transferring care to a different therapist, if the client suggests anything of a sexual nature involving you.

6. DO NOT talk about other clients with the client.

7. DO NOT talk about your personal life with the client. Especially DO NOT let the client have your private home address or personal e-mail address. Note that you can have your personal address excluded from most public licensing sites and directories.

8. DO NOT ever have a sexual relationship with a client or former client. Consider clients and former clients “off-limits.” See Rule 5 above

9. DO know what professional boundaries are and NEVER cross them. This includes allowing a personal relationship to grow between you and the client, selling anything to the client (e.g., Girl Scout cookies, candy bars for your kids’ school band, tickets to charity events, washing powder, plastic sealable containers, etc.).

10. DO know if you have a suspicion that your therapist-client relationship is getting out of bounds; it probably already is. See Rule 5, above.

11. DO call a more senior professional colleague to you and consult them about the “situation” if you think there is one.

These may sound like “no-brainers” to you, but you would be surprised at how many complaints against licensed mental health counselors and psychologists there are because of violating one or more of these “simple rules.”

(Note: These “rules” are merely guidelines meant to help you keep out of trouble; these are not rules meant to be enforced on anyone, nor are they meant to create or represent any “standard of care.”)

For additional information on how our firm can assist you in matters like this, click here to read one of our prior blogs.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced Investigations of Mental Health Counselors, Psychologists, Social Workers, and Family Therapists.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to mental health counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and family therapists in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) investigations, board hearings, FBI investigations, and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers. We also defend health professionals and health facilities in general litigation matters and business litigation matters.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2022 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

By |2023-09-08T20:00:29-04:00September 10, 2023|Categories: Mental Health Law Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

Mental Health Counselors and Psychotherapists: Follow These Simple Rules for Keeping Your License and Avoiding Complaints

George Indest HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

I represent many mental health counselors, social workers, psychologists, and professional counselors, defending them on complaints being investigated against their professional licenses. Many complaints and investigations arise because the therapist has strayed over the line and crossed the therapist-client boundary. In reviewing these cases, I have drawn up a list of a few simple “bright line” rules that can help save you many hours of stress and mental anguish as well as thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees and costs defending yourself

These “rules” may seem to be common sense, but there they are, anyway:

1. DO NOT ever meet the client at an outside social activity or attend a social event with the client. This includes “just dinner” or “just-drinks.”

2. DO NOT text the client. Texting is not secure and leads to casual and unprofessional thinking and conversation with the client. Many health care institutions prohibit their physicians and employees from texting with clients because of the HIPAA Security and Privacy Rules. You can use that as an excuse if you need one.

3. DO take a screenshot and print out the text when you violate the above rule. Place it in the client’s health record because you will probably be seeing it again, attached to a complaint.

4. DO send an e-mail or, better yet, a professional letter to the client, instead of texting the client. Print out a copy and place it in the client’s health record, because you will probably see it again.

5. DO NOT EVER make any suggestive or sexual remarks to the client in any communications, oral or written or text, or e-mail. In fact, DON’T even think about it. This includes off-color jokes and comments.

6. DO immediately terminate the relationship with the client, transferring care to a different therapist, if the client suggests anything of a sexual nature involving you.

7. DO NOT talk about other clients with the client.

8. DO NOT talk about your own personal life with the client. Especially DO NOT let the client have your personal home address or personal e-mail address.

9. DO NOT ever have sex with a client or former client. DO NOT even think of it. If you start to think of it, see Rule 6, above. Consider clients and former clients “off-limits” no matter how much you are tempted. If you are religious, just consider this as an attempt by Satan to seduce you. If it works, you are going to be in Hell, even before you die.

10. DO know what professional boundaries are and DO NOT cross them. This includes allowing a personal relationship to grow between you and the client, and includes selling anything to the client (e.g., Girl Scout cookies, tickets to a charitable event, Amway products, candy bars for your kids’ school band, etc.), agreeing to meet the client at any outside event, accepting gifts from the client, hiring the client to work for you, accepting “voluntary” services from the client (including volunteering to work in your office). If you need a friend that bad, terminate the therapist-client relationship and see Rule 6, above.

11. DO know that if you have even a suspicion that your therapist-client relationship is getting out of bounds, then it already is out of bounds. See Rule 6, above.

12. DO call a professional therapist colleague who is more senior to you and consult her or him about the “situation” if you think there may be a “situation.”

These may sound like “no-brainers” to you, but you would be surprised at how many complaints against licensed counselors and psychologists there are as a result of violating one or more of these “rules.”

(Note: These “rules” are just guidelines meant to help you keep out of trouble; these are not meant to be enforced against anyone, nor do they create or represent any “standard of care.”)

For additional information on how our firm can assist you in matters like this, click here to read one of our prior blogs.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced Investigations of Mental Health Counselors, Psychologists, Social Workers, and Family Therapists.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to mental health counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and family therapists in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) investigations, board hearings, FBI investigations, and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers. To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or toll-free at (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

We also defend health professionals and health facilities in general litigation matters and business litigation matters.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2021 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

By |2021-03-26T10:12:01-04:00May 21, 2021|Categories: Medical Education Law Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

Counselors and Psychotherapists: Simple Rules for Keeping Your License and Avoiding Complaints

George Indest HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

I represent many mental health counselors, social workers, psychologists, and professional counselors, defending them on complaints being investigated against their professional licenses. Many complaints and investigations arise because the therapist has strayed over the line and crossed the therapist-client boundary. In reviewing these cases, I have drawn up a list of a few simple “bright line” rules that can help save you many hours of stress and mental anguish as well as thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees and costs defending yourself

These “rules” may seem to be common sense, but there they are, anyway:

1. DO NOT ever meet the client at an outside social activity or attend a social event with the client. This includes “just dinner” or “just-drinks.”

2. DO NOT text the client. Texting is not secure and leads to casual and unprofessional thinking and conversation with the client. Many health care institutions prohibit their physicians and employees from texting with clients because of the HIPAA Security and Privacy Rules. You can use that as an excuse if you need one.

3. DO take a screenshot and print out the text when you violate the above rule. Place it in the client’s health record because you will probably be seeing it again, attached to a complaint.

4. DO send an e-mail or, better yet, a professional letter to the client, instead of texting the client. Print out a copy and place it in the client’s health record, because you will probably see it again.

5. DO NOT EVER make any suggestive or sexual remarks to the client in any communications, oral or written or text, or e-mail. In fact, DON’T even think about it. This includes off-color jokes and comments.

6. DO immediately terminate the relationship with the client, transferring care to a different therapist, if the client suggests anything of a sexual nature involving you.

7. DO NOT talk about other clients with the client.

8. DO NOT talk about your own personal life with the client. Especially DO NOT let the client have your personal home address or personal e-mail address.

9. DO NOT ever have sex with a client or former client. DO NOT even think of it. If you start to think of it, see Rule 6, above. Consider clients and former clients “off-limits” no matter how much you are tempted. If you are religious, just consider this as an attempt by Satan to seduce you. If it works, you are going to be in Hell, even before you die.

10. DO know what professional boundaries are and DO NOT cross them. This includes allowing a personal relationship to grow between you and the client, and includes selling anything to the client (e.g., Girl Scout cookies, tickets to a charitable event, Amway products, candy bars for your kids’ school band, etc.), agreeing to meet the client at any outside event, accepting gifts from the client, hiring the client to work for you, accepting “voluntary” services from the client (including volunteering to work in your office). If you need a friend that bad, terminate the therapist-client relationship and see Rule 6, above.

11. DO know that if you have even a suspicion that your therapist-client relationship is getting out of bounds, then it already is out of bounds. See Rule 6, above.

12. DO call a professional therapist colleague who is more senior to you and consult her or him about the “situation” if you think there may be a “situation.”

These may sound like “no-brainers” to you, but you would be surprised at how many complaints against licensed counselors and psychologists there are as a result of violating one or more of these “rules.”

(Note: These “rules” are just guidelines meant to help you keep out of trouble; these are not meant to be enforced against anyone, nor do they create or represent any “standard of care.”)

For additional information on how our firm can assist you in matters like this, click here to read one of our prior blogs.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced Investigations of Mental Health Counselors, Psychologists, Social Workers, and Family Therapists.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to mental health counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and family therapists in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) investigations, board hearings, FBI investigations, and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers. To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or toll-free at (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

We also defend health professionals and health facilities in general litigation matters and business litigation matters.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2021 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

 

By |2021-03-26T09:55:54-04:00May 21, 2021|Categories: Health Facilities Law Blog, In the Know|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments
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