“When in Doubt Be Human”: The Ethics of the Therapeutic Relationship

6 CE Hours Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced Levels

Counselors, Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists, and Psychologists

Co-Sponsored with Commonwealth Educational Seminars

Research has shown that the main factor leading to successful clinical outcomes is the therapeutic relationship. The primary tool we have toward developing that relationship is ourselves. The challenge is in deciding whether or how much of ourselves to bring to any given therapeutic moment. Karl Menninger said, “When in doubt be human.” How does that impact the discussion? We will watch entertaining and provocative film clips and also consider clinical examples followed by lively discussions about the insights and reactions raised. Relevant ethical codes will be discussed.


Compare and contrast boundary crossings and violations, including a discussion of self-disclosure and touch

Identify decision-making models for dual relationships

Understand how to manage terminations throughout the relationship

Discuss premature terminations, “failures” in therapy and what therapists can do to avoid them

Discuss implicit bias and steps therapists can take to reduce bias or at least the impact of bias

Understand that self-care is essential for ethical decision-making


9:00 Boundary crossings v. violations generally

9:30 Physical Contact/Self Disclosure

10:15 Break

10:30 Self-Disclosure

11:30 Dual Relationships/Conflicts of Interest

Noon Lunch

1:00 Dual Relationships/Conflicts of Interest/Dual Rel. Decision Making Model
1:30 Termination of Services

2:00 Mutually Agreed Termination/Early Withdrawals

2:30 Break

2:45 Implicit Bias/Microaggressions/Bias Reduction Strategies
4:00 Professional Self-Care

Continuing Education credit for this program is awarded by Commonwealth Educational Seminars (CES) for the following professions:

Social Workers: CES, provider #1117, is approved as a Provider for Social Work Continuing Education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) www.aswb.org, through the Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. CES maintains responsibility for the program. ASWB Approval Period: 10/5/15 through 10/5/18. Social Workers should contact their regulatory board to determine course approval. Social Workers participating in this course will receive 6.0 clinical continuing education clock hours.

Licensed Clinical Professional Counselors/Licensed Mental Health Counselors: Commonwealth Educational Seminars (CES) is entitled to grant continuing education credit for LCPCs/LMHCs in the following states: AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, DC, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, ME, MA, MO, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NC, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WI, WY. CES maintains responsibility for this program. LCPCs/LMHCs completing the program will receive 6.0 continuing education hours of credit.

Psychologists: Commonwealth Educational Seminars (CES) is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to offer continuing education credit programs. CES maintains responsibility for this program and its content. Psychologists receive 6.0 hours of continuing education credit upon completing this program.

Nurses:  As an American Psychological Association approved provider CES programs are accepted by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Every state Board of Nursing accepts ANCC approved programs except California and Iowa, however CES is also an approved Continuing Education provider by the California Board of Registered Nursing, (Provider Number CEP15567) which is also accepted by the Iowa Board of Nursing. Nurses completing this program receive 6.0 CE hours of credit.

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