Articles by Legal Department Staff

The Legal Department articles are not intended to serve as legal advice and are offered for educational purposes only. The information provided should not be used as a substitute for independent legal advice and it is not intended to address every situation that could potentially arise. Please be aware that laws, regulations and technical standards change over time. As a result, it is important to verify and update any reference or information that is provided in the article.

Articles by Bonnie Benitez, JD, Former Staff Attorney

Avoiding the Good Mom Bad Dad Trap

Posted on 10/1/2017
A therapist who treats a child in the midst of a custody battle needs to be aware of his or her proper role in the process

Advertising Guidelines for Therapist

Posted on 4/8/2013
This article will cover the legal and ethical standards regarding advertising by LMFTs, trainees and interns.

Reporting Consensual Sexual Activity Involving Minors

Posted on 9/6/2012
There seems to be much confusion with regard to whether an MFT must or is even permitted to report consensual sexual activity involving minors. The information below applies only to consensual sexual activity-not incest, date rape or any situation in

Guidelines for the Treatment of Minors

Posted on 8/31/2012
This article will explore the various circumstances in which minors may receive treatment, both with and without parental consent, and provide guidelines for the therapist to follow to make the most appropriate decisions.

Informed Consent Therapist Disclosure

Posted on 8/31/2012
This article addresses the most commonly asked questions with regard to informed consent and therapist disclosure.

LMFTs as School Counselors

Posted on 8/15/2012
Working in school settings involves frequent tricky situations in which therapists are asked to meet with children without parental consent, reveal students' personal information to teachers and other school officials, share the contents of clinical

LMFTs as School Counselors Confidentiality and Privilege

Posted on 8/15/2012
This article is designed to be a resource for therapists working as school counselors. It will discuss issues such as confidentiality, privilege and parent access to school counseling records. A previous article, published in the July/August 2002 iss

Guidelines for Job Interview Questions

Posted on 7/1/2010
Guidelines for Job Interview Questions

New Law Affects LMFTs Ability to Release Outpatient Psychotherapy Records

Posted on 7/1/2009
New Law affects LMFTs ability to release outpatient psychotherapy records

CANRA Reporting Child Abuse that has Occurred Outside of California

Posted on 6/1/2009
CANRA does not limit child abuse or neglect reporting to children who resides in California. Learn how to report abuse that has occurred outside of California.

The Decision to Terminate Therapy

Posted on 6/1/2009
Decision to Terminate Therapy

Consent for the Treatment of Minors with Divorced Parents

Posted on 5/11/2009
This article will address the specific circumstance of obtaining proper consent for treatment of a minor with divorced parents, and provide guidelines for therapists to follow to make the most appropriate decisions in difficult situations.

Top Ten List of Things Therapists Can Do to Avoid Getting Into Trouble

Posted on 4/3/2009
Bonnie's Top Ten list of Things Therapists can do to avoid getting into Trouble. The following is a list of things therapists commonly do, or fail to do, which tend to create exposure to liability, complaints to licensing boards, and unnecessary conf

Requirements for Child Custody Evaluators

Posted on 1/1/2006
laws have been passed to improve the quality of evaluators and the evaluations they conduct. This has resulted in the development of uniform standards for child custody evaluators, including specialized training requirements, specifically tailored to

Child Custody The Process of Contested Custody

Posted on 11/1/2005
This article is intended to provide therapists with a fundamental understanding of contested custody proceedings, including the role of the mediator, child custody evaluator, minor's counsel and the court.

Employing Interns, Trainees, and Licensees the Right Way, Part III

Posted on 9/1/2005
The issues discussed in this article are equally applicable to all types of employees, including trainees, interns, licensed professionals, and non-clinical staff. This article will discuss performance evaluations, disciplining employees, termination

Employing Interns, Trainees, and Licensees the Right Way, Part II

Posted on 5/1/2005
his article will discuss the relevant wage and hour laws applicable to all employees; it will also address the proper use of volunteers.

Employing Interns, Trainees, and Licensees the Right Way, Part I

Posted on 3/1/2005
This article will be the first in a series of articles that will address the legal aspects of recruiting, hiring, paying, reviewing, disciplining and terminating employees, including trainees and interns.

On Ethics The Exiting Intern Vignette Evaluation

Posted on 1/1/2005
The exiting Intern

Top Ten List of Things Therapist Do to Get Into Trouble

Posted on 9/1/2004
Bonnie's Top Ten List of Things Therapists do go Get into Trouble by Bonnie Benitez.

Confidentiality and its Exceptions Including the US Patriot Act

Posted on 7/1/2004
Confidentiality is the cornerstone that differentiates the therapist patient relationship from many other professional relationships. Therapists must be equipped to navigate a myriad of exceptions.

The Ins and Outs of Conservatorships in California

Posted on 11/1/2003
A conservatorship is one of several legal arrangements by which one person controls and administers the affairs of another. The term "conservator" describes one who legally has care and management of the person or estate, or both, of a person determi

Preserving the Confidentiality of Patient Records

Posted on 9/1/2003
Maintaining the confidentiality of patient records is of utmost importance to every therapist, regardless of his/her work setting. Patient records must be stored, transferred, and ultimately disposed of in a way that preserves confidentiality. This a

On Ethics Consent for Minor in Custody - Vignette

Posted on 3/1/2003
Vignette on Consent for Minor in Custody Situation

Dual Forensic Roles Guidelines for Avoiding Conflicting Roles with Patients

Posted on 1/1/2003
This article is intended to include guidelines for therapists who have been asked by a patient to give testimony in a court of law or deposition, and/or therapists who have been asked to submit an evaluation, report or declaration to a court of law r

Telemedicine AKA Online Therapy and Mandatory Informed Consent

Posted on 9/1/2002
By bringing health care to the patient instead of the patient going to the provider, telemedicine is providing alternatives to the way health care services, including mental health services, are rendered to consumers. In a nutshell, telemedicine, or

Treatment of Minors Without Parent Consent

Posted on 5/1/2002
California law authorizes the parents(s), guardian(s) and under certain circumstances caregivers of a minor child to consent to the medical, mental health, and diagnosis and treatment relating to drug and alcohol abuse of that child. However, there a

Selecting and Forming the Right Private Practice Entity

Posted on 3/1/2002
One of the most important decisions a therapist can make, when forming a private practice, is choosing the right type of business entity to form. Most therapists wish to avoid personal liability for the obligations of their business and may also wish

Patient Tug of War

Posted on 3/1/2002
When a therapist leaves a place of employment, often his or her patients want to follow. Unfortunately, for many counseling agencies, this can create a "revolving door" of sorts in which therapists join the agency, build a client base through agency

Checklist for Therapists Who Become First Time Employers

Posted on 1/1/2002
Use this checklist to review useful information and resources before hiring your first employee.

The Role of Minor's Counsel in Family Court Proceedings

Posted on 9/1/2001
Therapists who treat children caught in the middle of a custody dispute are often contacted by attorneys. Typically, therapists will want to avoid engaging in any communication with the attorney of either parent (for reasons discussed in "Avoiding th

Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act A Review of Key Definitions

Posted on 5/1/2001
This article will discuss the elements of the definition of "child abuse." A reasonable suspicion of any forms of child abuse discussed in the article would mandate a child abuse report by any mandated reporter.

Consent for Treatment of Minors Caregiver Authorization

Posted on 5/1/2001
Consent for the treatment of minors: caregiver authorization

Patients Who Are a Danger to Themselves or Others

Posted on 11/1/2000
dangerous patients; Patients who are a danger to themselves or others; risk reduction, Patients Who Are a Danger to Themselves or Others

Authorization to Release Information

Posted on 7/23/2000
This article will attempt to clearly spell out what therapists need to do prior to disclosing information about their patients.