Law & Ethics CEs for Therapists and Social Workers: The “Two Birds” Concept

By Ivan Perkins on October 2, 2017

bigstock--178496554.jpgLaw is challenging.

This includes health care law, and within that, the law of psychotherapy. There are a zillion rules, as well as ethical principles that should inform your every move.

For most challenging systems we confront, we expect a guide. We look for a user-friendly manual, maybe with some online videos to walk us through every step.

But with psychotherapy law, we at Therapist Development Center noticed something unusual. There was no guide. The leading contenders—law and ethics CEs, for example, or book-length treatises—do not even attempt to provide a comprehensive guidance system.

Existing CEs, we found, generally offer a scattered assortment of rules and ethical principles. So with each course, you might get a few important concepts, but nothing puts it all together into a single user’s manual.

Book-length treatises also failed to provide a guide. These are generally written for a national audience, but psychotherapists and social workers are regulated by the states. So for the most part, the treatises cannot tell you the specific rules that apply to a practicing therapist or social worker. (And the few existing state-specific resources leave out crucial things like HIPAA, clinical documentation, and strategies for avoiding lawsuits and dealing with potential claims.)

And none of these, we saw, boiled down complicated state and federal rules into easy-to-use model forms.

So we thought: “What if we gave therapists and social workers a user’s manual, complete with lawyer-crafted model forms, and tailored to their states, to make it as easy as possible for them to follow the complicated rules of their profession?”

And we also thought: “What if this manual took the form of Continuing Education courses, which they have to take anyway?”

And that’s how our Law & Ethics CEs were born. We aim to make legal and ethical compliance as quick and easy as humanly possible. And you get your CE credits at the same time. That is our “two birds” concept.

We created a system of three interlocking CEs. Here’s how it works. You can take the three CEs in any order. You can take them all at once or spread them over two or three compliance periods.

Our CEs are:


CE No. 1 Minimizing Legal-Ethical Risk in Psychotherapy

This CE course provides foundational background material on the standard of care in various areas of psychotherapy. These do not vary from state to state. This course includes things like a model informed consent form, guides to clinical documentation and minimizing risk in the context of potential suicide or violence, a model professional will, a discussion of what to do and not do if you get into legal trouble, and a lesson on buying the right malpractice insurance. 6 CE credits.

CE No. 2 Confidentiality and Client Access to Records

For this course, you will select just one of the following two courses, each of which is tailored to the law of your particular state. Before selecting, you will need to determine whether you are covered by HIPAA or are otherwise deciding to comply with that law. (Click on the Are You Covered by HIPAA? discussion available on the web page where you found this CE course.)

CE No. 3 Managing Your Practice under the Law

This CE brings your practice into compliance with all remaining state laws and regulations not addressed in CE No. 2. It addresses topics such as advertising, consent for treatment of a minor, fees, supervision, technology, and telehealth. 3 CE credits.


Everyone can take CE No. 1, as that applies nationwide. Currently, the only state we have for CE Nos. 2 and 3 is California. But if you practice outside of California, please know that we are expanding our geographic reach, and we are planning to get to you. Check back in a year or two.

On using these CEs, we have the following recommendations:

Take all three of our CEs at once, during a single compliance period. Listen to the audio versions, pause whenever you need, and tailor our model forms. Print out the CEs for ready reference, so you can look anything up when a question arises, and quickly find what you need.

The law is always changing, and we update our CEs accordingly. Every couple of years, retake at least one of these three CEs to update your compliance and forms (and reinforce what you learned before), and obtain your needed law and ethics CE credits.

If you purchase any of these courses in October, you’ll receive a special introductory discount of 20% off. Just enter CEBLOG20 in the coupon code box at checkout. This code can be used one time per user. This offer will only last through October 31st, though, so act now for a great discount! You will have access to the courses for a year!

And who are “we” anyway?

My name is Ivan Perkins, and I’m a health care lawyer in Santa Monica, California. I help therapists understand and comply with the complex rules of their profession. For a number of years, I have been researching and writing these CEs. By the way, reading this blog or taking these CEs does not make me your lawyer. But I could be, if you reach out to me at or email me at and we establish an attorney-client relationship.

To produce these CEs, I am also working with Amanda Rowan and other strong, talented therapists at Therapist Development Center or TDC. Amanda is the inspiration for these CEs. She saw a need for a legal course for psychotherapists which would provide an approachable, user-friendly guidance system complete with model forms.

Please let us know if you see any way for us to improve these CEs. Feel free to email me at If we use your suggestion, I will try to credit you (alas, probably just in a footnote) within the next iteration of the CEs.

We look forward to working with you!



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