Why You'll Love This Course

A lot of ethics courses keep the discussion at a surface level. This one is different. It's taught at an advanced level, and is meant to challenge assumptions you may have about when and why telling lies to clients may be justified.

Course Description

No therapist is fully honest and transparent with their clients. Nor should we be. Clients typically do not benefit from knowing the first moment we suspect they may have a personality disorder or other serious pathology. We typically don't want clients to know about any countertransference reactions we may have to them. And many therapists will eagerly lie to clients when we believe it necessary to protect their safety or the safety of others. If we accept all of these as not just true but in the interest of good client care, a conversation can open about *when* to be honest and transparent with clients, when to simply stay silent, and when it may be beneficial to lie. 

In this advanced workshop, we'll have that conversation. We review ethical standards related to truth in therapy, their links to common moral and philosophical stances, policies that therapists adopt around secrets in couple and family work, and a number of case examples that cut directly to the limits of our desire and intention to be honest with clients.

2 Hours CE. Recorded Video Format (non-interactive).

Learning Objectives

By the end of this workshop, participants will be able to:

  • Articulate their own moral stance on when lying to clients may be necessary or appropriate

  • Weigh the value they place on honesty against the value they place on other general ethical principles

  • Defend their chosen policy on holding individual secrets in couple or family therapy

Course Outline

1. Introduction: The lies we already tell

2. Ethical principles and standards

3. Secrets in Couple, Family, and Group Work

4. Situations where lying might be the best option

5. Case examples

6. Repairing



Benjamin Caldwell, PsyD, LMFT

Education Director, SimplePractice Learning

Benjamin Caldwell, PsyD is a California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (#42723). He currently serves as adjunct faculty for California State University Northridge in Los Angeles. He has taught at the graduate level for more than 15 years, primarily in Law and Ethics, and has written and trained extensively on ethical applications in mental health care. In addition to serving a three-year term on the AAMFT Ethics Committee, Dr. Caldwell served as the Chair of the Legislative and Advocacy Committee for AAMFT-California for 10 years. He served as Editor for the Users Guide to the 2015 AAMFT Code of Ethics and is the author of several books, including Saving Psychotherapy and Basics of California Law for LMFTs, LPCCs, and LCSWs.

Additional Information

Format and Length:

Recorded Video Format (non-interactive); Total running time 2 hours, 4 minutes

Topic Area:

Law and Ethics

NAADAC Counselor Skill Group 8: Legal, Ethical, and Professional Development

Instructional Level:


Completion Requirements:

To obtain your CE certificate, you must progress through all course segments, complete a satisfaction survey, and obtain a score of 80% or higher on a course completion quiz.

Who Should Attend:

Psychologists, counselors, clinical social workers, marriage and family therapists, and substance abuse counselors

Enrollment Period: 

90 Days

Publication and Review Dates:

Course Published: February 26, 2019 

Financial Support Statement:

SimplePractice Learning pays course presenters for their teaching. There is no other financial support for this course.

Conflict of Interest Statement:

There is no potential conflict of interest or outside commercial support for this course.

Refund Policy:

Click here to see our policies on attendance, refunds, grievances, and accessibility, and other frequently asked questions.

Continuing Education Approvals:

SimplePractice is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. SimplePractice maintains responsibility for this program and its content. This course provides 2 hours of continuing education (2 CE credits) for psychologists.

SimplePractice has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6961. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. SimplePractice is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs.

SimplePractice is approved by the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists to sponsor continuing education for LMFTs, LPCCs, LCSWs, and LEPs (CAMFT CEPA provider #145276). SimplePractice maintains responsibility for this program and its content. This course meets the qualifications for 2 hours of continuing education credit for LMFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs, and/or LEPs as required by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences.

SimplePractice is approved as a Rule/Statute Approved Provider of Continuing Education by the Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage & Family Therapy, and Mental Health Counseling. Note that we do not automatically report CE completion to CE Broker at this time, so certificates of completion must be manually uploaded. Click here for more information.

SimplePractice LLC is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #SW-0582.

SimplePractice is approved to provide continuing education activities for Social Workers in the state of Texas. Social Work CE Provider Number 7678.

This course has been approved by SimplePractice, as a NAADAC Approved Education Provider, for 2 Hours CE. NAADAC Provider #186410. SimplePractice is responsible for all aspects of their programming. Click here to view our complete CE approval information.