Exceptions to Confidentiality

Presented and developed by Frances Schopick, JD, MSW, LICSW

Every counselor knows that confidentiality is the foundation of clinical practice. However, there are also exceptions to confidentiality that can be exercised. A recent ruling in the WA Supreme Court has shifted exemptions from a Duty to Warn third parties to a Duty to Protect the public.  Counselors may need to disclose information if signs of dangerousness are present.

In this interactive presentation, we will examine cases that help us understand how court rulings affecting confidentiality apply to practice and what counselors can do to protect themselves as well as their clients.


Goals and Objectives:

  • Duty to Protect: To provide an overview of the differences between Duty to Warn and the newer standard, the Duty to Protect. Attendees should come away with an understanding of the “special relationship” standard that may create in them the responsibility to assess their clients for dangerousness to self and/or others.
  • Disclosure of couples counseling: To provide an overview of laws relevant to confidentiality in couples counseling. Attendees should have an understanding of exceptions to confidentiality as they may exist in the context of couples counseling, and how to follow proper procedures so that disclosure is performed in a lawful fashion.
  • Exceptions in counseling involving children: To provide an overview of laws involving confidentiality of parents and/or children when the best interests of a child may be involved. Attendees should be able to identify when and how disclosure may be made, with great care, to parenting evaluators, guardians ad litem, and clients’ lawyers.

Continuing Education (CE) Information

6 CEs

 6 Law and Ethics CEs

Frances Schopick, JD, MSW, LICSW

Frances Schopick, JD, MSW, is an attorney with a background in Social Work and psychiatric research. She worked for nearly 20 years as a mental health diagnostician and clinician in agency, research and private practice.  Living in Seattle, she is on the Adjunct Faculty of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in the Departments of Psychiatry and Preventive Medicine, and was formerly on the Faculty of Harvard Medical School in the Department of Psychiatry.  Research publications, abstracts, and presentations reflect her work in Mood and Personality Disorders including Narcissism and Psychopathy. 

Now an attorney, Fran works with mental health provider DOH Licensees of all disciplines who have received subpoenas, have to testify, or who have DOH complaints against them.  She also provides consultation on ethical and practice clallenges that put counselors at risk for DOH Complaints.  She completed her BA at Barnard College at Columbia University in New York City, a Master's Degree in Social Work (MSW) at the Hunter College School of Social Work in MYC and a Juris Doctor (JD) at the University of New Hampshire.  She holds Washington State licensure as both an attorney and LICSW. 

Upcoming Dates and Registration

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