Ethics and Boundaries: Legal Issues Part II and the Internet

Upcoming dates (1)

For registration assistance: 608-262-2451


This 4-hour class meets Wisconsin requirements for ethics and professional boundaries continuing education for licensure renewal and is designed for social workers, counselors, therapists, psychologists and other helping professionals. The two-part (2 hours each day) is offered fully online via Zoom with instructor David Mays, MD, PhD.

Day one of this course looks at the relationship between legislative and professional ethical and practice standards. All mental health professional organizations have standards defining ethical practice. These include guidelines about boundaries, principled decision-making, and professional behavior. At times, the government also weighs in, setting certain legal requirements that mental health professionals must adhere to. Sometimes these standards are consistent with professional standards (confidentiality). Sometimes they add new expectations (Tarasoff duties). And sometimes they conflict (conscience clauses).

Day two will address ethical and boundary issues related to the internet. The electronic medical record is exposing clinicians to greater privacy and boundary challenges. Internet and social media pressures are also changing the landscape of mental healthcare. Add to this the opportunities and perils of "big data" and subsequent effects on risk assessment and the growing prevalence of telemedicine and you have a lot of change in a short amount of time.

Learner Level: Beginner to Advanced


Learning Objectives

At the end of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Identify the basic components of confidentiality and Tarasoff Standards.
  • Describe the difference between a privacy standard and a confidentiality standard.
  • Describe how conscience clauses may conflict with professional codes of ethics.
  • Assess themselves for risks of boundary crossings and ask for consultation if necessary.
  • Describe how the electronic health record changes more than simply how we keep records.
  • Discuss the importance of office social media policies for boundaries.
  • Analyze how telemedicine is affecting mental health care.
  • List examples of when searching for client data online may or may not be acceptable.

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Course Outline

Course outline

Day 1: Legal Issues

  • Confidentiality
  • Privacy versus confidentiality
  • Tarasoff
  • Threats and "true threat" doctrine
  • Conscience clauses
  • Boundaries - historical antecedents in mental health

Day 2: The Internet

  • The electronic health record and how it's different than a paper chart
  • Email and texting with clients
  • Social media informed consent
  • Telemedicine
  • Big data
  • Searching our clients online and other boundary challenges

Earn Continuing Education Hours

By participating in this class you will earn:

Instructional Hours 4
University of Wisconsin Continuing Education Units .4
American Psychological Association - Continuing Education Credit 4
Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services - Substance Abuse Counselors - Continuing Education Credit Hours 4
Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services - Marriage and Family Therapists - Continuing Education Credit Hours 4
Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services - Social Workers - Continuing Education Credit Hours 4
Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services - Licensed Professional Counselors 4

Explanation of Continuing Education Hours

Upcoming dates (1)

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Program Questions?

Contact Kristi Obmascher at kobmascher@dcs.wisc.edu or 6088820122

Registration Questions?

Email registrations@pyle.wisc.edu or call 608-262-2451.

Continuing Studies FAQs

Meet your instructor

David Mays

(MD, PhD, Indiana University School of Medicine) is the past forensic clinical director at the Mendota Mental Health Institute in Madison. He also serves on the clinical faculty at UW-Madison and the Medical College of Wisconsin.

What Attendees Are Saying

I really enjoyed this course! To be honest, I was dreading taking another ethics course because the material can be very dry. I did not feel that way at all during this course and found Dr. Mays to be dynamic and interesting! The material was presented in a way that required me to think about how it applied to me. Thank you for a great course and I look forward to taking more courses with you in the future!