Ethics and Record Keeping
Pennsylvania for the Mental Health Professional”, Dr. Allan Tepper put on a great performance in
his Workshop. He reminded me of a cross between Jerry Seinfeld, the comedian,
and Chef Robert from television. I’m sure that you all know Jerry Seinfeld, a little
sarcastic, but a very funny stand-up comedian. Chef Robert is a no nonsense
chef and businessman who visits selected restaurants to tell them what they are
doing wrong and what they can do better. Dr. Tepper presented a reality check,
including risks for noncompliance for record keeping and confidentiality. Just as Chef Robert tells it like it is for restaurant owners, Dr. Tepper told it like it is for licensed Mental Health
Professionals.Regardless of the profession, few people enjoy hearing what
they might be doing wrong and what they could be doing better. Dr. Tepper asked some pointed questions of the audience on ethical issues regarding their practice. He did a nice job of pointing
out legal and ethical issues to their response without embarrassing anyone. His
sense of humor often saved the day, or at least the moment.
Dr. Tepper is an attorney, and a psychologist. He was
able to switch hats as needed during his workshop. He reminded the audience
that his topic was limited to record keeping and confidentiality. I have
previously heard Dr. Tepper speak on many ethical and legal topics in Mental
Health. Apparently, some of the audience also appreciated his broad expertise,
as the questions were sometimes beyond the scope of this workshop. He briefly
answered the question, and adroitly steered his response back to the topic.
In short, Dr. Tepper’s Workshop met his objectives. His presentation was not “high tech” (He used a flip chart! Thank goodness, he did not allow Power Point to get between him and his audience). The three hours went by very quickly and I learned a few things. Between the humor, his presentation addressed the Therapist –Client relationship (relationship beginning and end documented.), the expected content of the records (handout provided, or contact your licensing Board), Maintenance of
records (e.g. All Boards expect five years after last session but Insurance providers may expect up to 10 years), He also discussed the the recent updates to the “Duty to Warn” obligation. This is a complex issue regarding a client who threatens someone outside of the therapeutic relationship. (Emerich case law decision, PA 1999).
Dr. Tepper advised all licensed MHP’s to frequently check their Board’s Websites for updates on new statutes and regulations.