Dr. Allan Tepper put on a great encore performance in his workshop with today’s talk on “Clinical, Ethical and Legal Issues Related to Record Keeping.” FCP welcomed Dr. Tepper back again this year after last fall’s valuable presentation.
At the outset, Dr. Tepper warned the audience that he would address some “Risk Management” issues that would make them uncomfortable. He then presented a reality check, including risks for noncompliance for record keeping, confidentiality and other issues related to ethics. Dr. Tepper again told it like it is for licensed mental health professionals.
As in the past, and, 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. Again, 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 the presentation. 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 each question, and adroitly steered his response back to the topic.
This year, Dr. Tepper also addressed the topic of electronic (email, Skype, telephone, etc.) psychotherapy. He warned the audience of the possible pitfalls of these new media. He especially addressed the danger of out-of-state psychotherapy contact with patients. Psychologists and other licensed mental health professionals must become aware of the out-of-state practice laws before using the internet or telephone to provide psychotherapy before providing these services.
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 Medicare providers may expect up to 10 years). He also discussed 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).
As in the past, Dr. Tepper advised all licensed MHP’s to frequently check their Board’s web sites for updates on new statutes and regulations.