Law and Ethics: Presented by CAMFT

  • 27 Oct 2023
  • 9:00 AM - 4:15 PM
  • Virtual Zoom Meeting
  • 67


  • Reserved for members of the San Diego CAMFT Chapter. (Please make sure your registration information matches your information that we have on file.)
  • Reserved for individuals registering who are not SD CAMFT Chapter Members.
  • Reserved for students.


This event will be presented virtually live and also recorded. A Zoom link to for the live webinar will be sent via email to registrants in their confirmation email.  After the event,  a link to the event recording will also be sent to all registrants.

SESSION I: No-Stress Records Requests

9:00am -12:15pm (break from 10:30am - 10:45am)


“Are my notes sufficient?” “Do I have to provide the entire record??” “Could my license be at risk???” Anxiety-inducing questions like these often flood therapists’ minds the moment they receive records requests from patients, attorneys, insurance companies, or other third parties. However, understanding how to create quality patient records and effectively respond to records requests can allow practitioners to handle such requests with confidence and ease. Join CAMFT staff attorney Brad Muldrow for a helpful overview of the legal and ethical requirements for recordkeeping and responding to records requests.


Participants will become familiar with notetaking approaches that: 1) are consistent with their legal and ethical obligations; and 2) demonstrate their competence and the effectiveness of their services in case the notes are ever reviewed by attorneys or other third parties during litigation, BBS disciplinary 2 hearings, or other legal processes. Participants will understand state and federal requirements for responding to records requests from patients, attorneys, insurance companies, and other third parties.


Participants will be able to:

Participants will be able to recognize the BBS’ recordkeeping standard and identify two additional recordkeeping systems that are utilized by certain third-party payers and employers. Participants will know how long the law requires them to keep patient records post-termination and why CAMFT recommends that practitioners keep their records for three years beyond that period. Participants will recognize important legal distinctions between responding to records requests under HIPAA and California law.


I. Recordkeeping a. What Are Patient Records?

b. Standard for Recordkeeping

c. Recordkeeping Ethics

d. Responsibilities of Supervisors

e. Substance of the Record

f. Approaches to Notetaking g. Purposes for Notetaking

II. Maintaining Records

a. Record Retention Period

III. Responding to Records Requests

a. Records Requests from Patients

 HIPAA Requirements

 California Law Requirements

b. Providing a Treatment Summary in Lieu of the Record

c. Requests for Minor Patients’ Records

d. Records Requests from Attorneys

e. Records Requests from Insurance Companies

 Considerations for In-Network Providers

 Considerations for Out-of-Network Providers

f. Records Requests from Other Third Parties

g. Requests for Deceased Patients’ Records

IV. Conclusion

SESSION II: "Working with Clients Who are Involved in the Legal System"

1:00pm - 2:30pm (break from 2:30pm - 2:45pm)


This 1.5 - hour workshop will provide an overview of legal and ethical issues which commonly arise when working with clients who are involved in the legal system. The workshop will discuss the importance of clearly defining the therapist’s role and client expectations at the start of treatment, including expectations concerning the therapist’s possible participation in the client’s legal matter. Issues such as letter writing, offering one’s opinion to the court, and the therapist’s responsibility to the legal system, as expressed in the Code of Ethics, will also be considered. Vignette examples will be utilized, as time allows. 


This 1.5- hour workshop discusses a variety of legal and ethical issues which may arise when working with clients who are involved with the legal system. Issues to be discussed include the importance of defining one’s role and identifying client expectations and important considerations for a therapist when writing letters for clients or offering testimony regarding a client. 


Upon completion of this workshop, attendees will be able to:

1. Explain why a therapist should consider their scope of competence before offering their professional opinion regarding a client.

2. Describe one or more sections of the CAMFT Code of Ethics that are relevant for a therapist to consider before offering their opinion in a case that is court-involved.

3. Describe the requirement of impartiality, as it is described in section 10.5 of the Code of Ethics.

4. Describe the role of “treating therapist” compared to “forensic expert,” as they are defined in section 10.2 (Expert Witnesses) of the Code of Ethics.

5. Provide one or more examples of conflicting roles when working with clients who are involved with the legal system. 


I. Workshop Overview

II. Defining the therapist’s role and clarifying client expectations

I. 3. Informed Consent and Disclosure

II. 3.1 Informed Decision-Making

III. 10. Responsibility to the legal system

I. 10.3: Conflicting Roles

II. 10.4: Dual Roles

III. 10.9: Consequences of Changes in Therapist Roles

IV. 10.5: Impartiality

V. 10.6: Minors and Privilege

VI. 10.7: Professional Opinions in Court-involved Cases

VII. 10.11 Custody Disputes

VIII. 5.14: Limits of Professional Opinions

IX. 5.11: Scope of Competence

X. 1845 Code of Regulations (Scope of Competence)

I. Performing or holding oneself out as able to perform professional services beyond one’s scope of competence is unprofessional conduct.

XI. 10.1: Testimony

XII. 10.2: Expert Witnesses

SESSION III: "Legal and Ethical Guidance for Therapists to Rely on When a Client Asks for a Letter"

2:45pm - 4:15pm


Therapists are often asked to write letters, fill out forms and offer professional opinions on behalf of clients. During this one-and-a-half-hour presentation, CAMFT Staff Attorney Alain Montgomery, will review the key legal and ethical standards for therapists to consider before writing a letter or filling out a form on behalf of a client and discuss how to manage the array of potential outcomes.


To help workshop participants identify the applicable CAMFT ethical standards that relate to letter writing

To review the different types of letters that providers are typically asked to write on behalf of clients

To provide workshop participants with guidelines for writing letters

To ensure workshop participants are equipped to make legally and ethically sound decisions when writing letters on behalf of a client

To help workshop participants understand the potential outcomes that could arise as a result of having written a letter on behalf of a client


Identify the applicable standards of care and relevant sections of the CAMFT Code of Ethics that address issues related to writing letters

Develop practical guidelines for writing letters and transmitting letters to clients or third parties

Identify the various types of letters that a therapist is typically asked to write at the request of a client

Understand the potential outcomes which could result from having written a letter on behalf of a client 



II. Ethical Standards, Rules, and Considerations that pertain to letter writing

a. CAMFT Code of Ethics sections that are relevant for a therapist who chooses to write letters or offer a professional opinion on behalf of a client

i. §5.11 Code of Ethics Scope of Competence

ii. §5.14 Code of Ethics Limits of Professional Opinions

iii. §10.3 Code of Ethics Conflicting Roles

iv. §10.4 Code of Ethics Dual Roles

v. §10.7 Code of Ethics Professional Opinions in Court Involved Cases

III. Rules and Considerations to Evaluate Before Writing a Letter

a. The Legal Standard of Care for Professionals

i. Cal. Bus. and Prof. Code, Section 4982(d)

b. The MFT Scope of Practice: Scope of practice delineates the breadth of functions a LMFT may lawfully perform as derived from statutory and regulatory authority.

i. California Business and Professions Code, Section 4980.02

c. The MFT Scope of Competence: Scope of competence defines and limits what a LMFT may do based on a practitioner’s education, training and experience.

i. Cal. Bus. and Prof. Code, Section 4982(s)

d. Cal. Code of Regulations, Section 1845

IV. Practical Guidelines for Writing Letters

V. Types of letter requests that a therapist receives

a. Overview of California’s New Emotional Support Dog Letter Law

i. California Health and Safety Code, Section §122318

b. Letters/Forms Attesting to a Client’s Disability

i. Eligible Providers that can complete Social Security Disability under [20 CFR § 416.902. (a)(1)-(8)]

ii. Eligible Providers that can complete certifications for Family Medical Leave under [29 CFR § 825.125 (a)-(c)]

c. Other Types of Letters

VI. Potential Outcomes

i. Clients Goals Achieved

ii. Client or Third-Party Requests Client’s Record

iii. Provider is Subpoenaed to Produce Documentation or Testify

VII. Best Practices 


This event is for mental health professionals.


$50 for Chapter Members

$75 for Non-Members

$40 for Students

Refund/Cancellation Policy

Please visit our website:


Please email the Education Chair at


Course Completion certificates will be awarded electronically in exchange for a completed evaluation form / assessment. Please make sure the Program Administrator has your correct email.

Course meets the qualifications for 6 hours of continuing education credit for LMFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs and LEPs as required by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences. Partial credit will not be awarded.

Participants must be present for the entire length of the workshop to be awarded credit. Participants will not be given CEU credit if they are more than 15 minutes late and/or do not stay for the entire length of the workshop.

This course is provided by the San Diego Chapter of the California association of marriage and family therapists (Provider #57330) is approved by the California association of marriage and family therapists to sponsor continuing education for LMFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs and LEPs. San Diego chapter of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists maintains responsibility for the program and all its content.

Please email the CEU Chair at

SESSION I PRESENTER: Bradley J. Muldrow, Esq.

As a CAMFT staff attorney, Bradley J. Muldrow Esq. takes member phone calls regarding law and ethics issues and contributes articles on those subjects to CAMFT's publication, The Therapist. Prior to joining CAMFTs legal team, Brad worked on litigation and regulatory matters as an attorney for San Diego Gas and Electric Company. Since becoming an attorney, Brad has given law and ethics presentations to attorneys and judges as a member of the J. Clifford WAllce Inn of Court. He has also served as a board member for the Earl B. Gilliam Bar Foundation, a San Diego based nonprofit. 


Michael has been a member of the CAMFT legal team since 2007. A graduate of the USC School of Social Work and Chapman University School of Law, Mr. Griffin earned his LCSW in 1982 and his California license as an Attorney in 2002. He has a broad professional background in various mental health settings (including Western Youth Services in Orange County, California, and Rady Children’s Psychiatry Dep’t in San Diego) as a clinician, administrator, supervisor, clinical case manager, school program coordinator, and outpatient clinic director, and has served as an oral examiner for LCSW candidates. In addition to his work for CAMFT, Mr. Griffin is a practicing psychotherapist with adults, adolescents and children in Laguna Niguel, California . 

SESSION III PRESENTER: Alain Lance Montgomery, Esq.

Alain Lance Montgomery, Esq., is a member of the State Bar of California. Alain received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of California at Berkeley and a Juris Doctor degree from Thomas Jefferson School of Law. Prior to joining the CAMFT legal department, Alain worked in public interest law as a legal advisor for the Superior Court of California where he helped self-represented parties navigate the complexities of small claims litigation. As a member of the CAMFT legal department, Alain has served as part of the support staff for the CAMFT Ethics Committee and has represented the Association at various state regulatory board meetings. After graduating from college and before attending law school, Alain worked as a ski instructor at Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort.

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