This course addresses the legal, ethical, and clinical challenges that therapists face when working with suicidal clients. California legal, ethical, and clinical standards provide the foundation for treating suicidal clients—situations that can be devastating and, sometimes, lethal. Unmanaged or poorly managed, these situations can lead to severe physical and emotional harm of clients and their families. Additionally, clinicians who fail to manage these issues in appropriate ways (as defined by experts) expose themselves to damaging malpractice and administrative actions. The most challenging of these possibilities occurs when clinicians face an accusation of contributing to the wrongful death of a client—that is, failing to protect the client’s life. Case examples and case vignettes are incorporated throughout the content, along with two short video clips.
This course is designed to review the legal, ethical, and clinical standards for managing clients who are suicidal. This course can be used toward the ongoing California requirement that LCSWs and LMFTs obtain six hours of law and ethics training each license renewal period. This course does not meet the California requirement of 6 hours of suicide risk assessment and intervention.
After completing this course, readers will be able to do the following:
- Identify and be able to apply California law, case law, and ethics to treat suicide-related issues.
- Identify the legal and ethical standard of care for treating suicidal patients.
- Identify the legal and ethical scope of competence required to treat suicide-related issues.
- Identify assessment, diagnosis, and treatment protocols for managing suicide-related issues.
- Identify elements of an appropriate treatment plan, one that documents the appropriate management of a suicidal client through all stages of therapy.
- Identify the most appropriate rationale for breaching confidentiality while, at the same time, avoiding a confidentiality bind and managing potential harm to self or others.
- Identify key components for appropriate documentation, which serve to protect the practitioner should a legal challenge arise.
- Identify the ways opposing attorneys highlight clinical pitfalls and attempt to discredit the therapist and win the case.