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Registration $160

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Steven Frankel

Steven Frankel, PhD, JD


A Can of Worms: Legal & Ethical Issues in Couples & Family Therapy
Saturday April 2, 2016
9:00 - 4:30       $160/$137 until 3/12/16      6.5 CE hours


Doing the best couples and family therapy sometimes runs a collision course with what is required from a strictly ethical/legal standpoint. Mastery of the skillful management of the sticky issues which arise—while still doing good clinical work—is crucial for all therapists who work with couples and families. This unique workshop will begin with the fundamental question Who is the client? Answers to this question are different and more complex than they are for individual clients.

From there, using many case examples and participant questions, Dr. Frankel will address such classic legal/ethical/clinical issues such as:

  • Confidentiality—keeping or not keeping secrets; seeing partners both individually and conjointly during couples therapy.
  • Deciding to treat [ or not] a partner individually after couples therapy has terminated.
  • Building trust with kids in individual sessions and incorporating information into family therapy.
  • High conflict divorce and remarriage cases—dealing with ex-spouses, children, and attorneys.
  • Handling between session emails & texts from partners during couples therapy.
  • Responding to subpoenas in divorce and custody cases.
  • Reporting abuse and maintaining a therapeutic alliance.


In this workshop, you will learn how to:

  • Define the consequences of various confidentiality policies
  • Clarify the top risk factors for clinicians who treat couples and families, including high-conflict divorce cases and treating kids both individually and with their families
  • Effectively manage the major risk factors for couples therapy when one of the clients discontinues treatment
  • Define the key problems associated with record-keeping for couples and family therapy

Steven Frankel PhD, JD, ABPP, is a clinical psychologist and an Attorney at Law. He is a Diplomate in both Clinical and Forensic Psychology from the American Board of Professional Psychology. He is a Clinical Professor of Psychology at USC, where he served for five years as the Chair of Clinical Psychology. Steve also practices law and teaches at Loyola University. His legal practice is in health and administrative law, specializing in representing healthcare professionals in their dealings with agencies like licensing boards and Medicare, as well as with their miscellaneous worries.

Dr. Frankel has always been committed to teaching, and has published over 50 articles and book chapters. He received the USC Award for Teaching Excellence and has been honored for outstanding teaching by CPA and LACPA. His unique combination of clinical and legal expertise makes him a sought after presenter at local, national and international conferences for his engaging workshops in law and ethics for mental health professionals.