Common Legal Issues in Private Practice with Attorney Howard Gold | FP 67

How can having an attorney on board to consult help you run your practice better? Is it okay to go to the same church as your client? What can you do to protect your income when you are brought onto a court case?

In this podcast episode, Whitney Owens speaks with Attorney Howard Gold about common legal issues in private practice.

Podcast Sponsor

TherapyNotes! It makes notes, billing, scheduling, and telehealth a whole lot easier. Check it out and you will quickly see why it’s the highest-rated EHR on TrustPilot with over 1000 verified customer reviews and an average customer rating of 4.9/5 stars.

You’ll notice the difference from the first day you sign up for a trial. They offer live phone support 7 days a week.

So when you have questions, you can quickly reach someone who can help, you are never wasting your time looking for answers.
If you are coming from another EHR, they make the transition really easy. TherapyNotes will import your clients’ demographic data free of charge during your trial so you can get going right away.

To get 2 free months of TherapyNotes,  no strings attached including their very reliable telehealth platform click on and enter the promo code: Joe

Meet Howard Gold

Howard is both a family attorney and former psychotherapist who lectures on legal and ethical issues in psychotherapy practice. Go to his website to sign up for his newsletter or to schedule a telephone consultation on a legal/ethical issue you are confronting in your practice.

His forms on his website have been very helpful to therapists in their practice. Howard’s workshops are offered to protect against lawsuits and Board Complaints and is very important and help to satisfy your state ethics requirements. Contact Howard through his website if a concern arises in your practice.

Visit his website and connect on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Sign up to receive Howard’s newsletter and access all the forms for therapists here.

In This Podcast

  • Legality issues around suicide
  • “You can’t be an advocate and a therapist at the same time”
  • Can you go to the same church as your client?
  • You can terminate a client if you are not happy

Legality issues around suicide

In order to … hold yourself from legal harm you must first, before you make a decision not to send somebody to the hospital, you must first do a suicide checklist … to see whether the results of that testing should help you in your decision. (Howard Gold)

If you practice in the state of Georgia, you need to do two things before deciding not to send somebody to a psychiatric hospital: a 1013 form and a suicide checklist. If you decide not to send somebody for a screening, you must do the suicide checklist beforehand.

If you do not decide to do those two things, for example deciding not to 1013 someone, and they commit suicide, you may be vulnerable to be sued by the family.

“You can’t be an advocate and a therapist at the same time”

Howard discusses that parents or families should always try to avoid getting the therapist involved in legal situations because for the therapist that is a dual relationship.

There is a huge shift in the therapy once you enact a dual relationship. What I mean by a dual relationship is A, you’re the therapist and B, they’re asking you to be the advocate. You can’t be an advocate and a therapist at the same time, I don’t think that’s a good idea because it creates a huge shift in the nature of the therapy. (Howard Gold)

Can you go to the same church as your client?

Although you must remain fully confidential at all times out of respect to your client and their therapy. Greeting them is alright but refrain from discussing the nature of their therapy with your spouse or family who may also go to the same church.

You can terminate a client if you are not happy

A client may become stagnant in therapy and refer to their therapist more as an anchor in their lives than a guide through their counseling. As a therapist, you are fully within your right and principles to terminate a client if they are not making progress after a long period of time, or if you are simply no longer enjoying the work you are doing with them.

If you decide to terminate a client, you can give out and offer referrals to them and make sure to put it in writing.

Don’t feel bad about wanting to terminate, this is your practice. If it’s not making you happy then get out of the case. (Howard Gold)

Useful Links:

Meet Whitney Owens

Photo of Christian therapist Whitney Owens. Whitney helps other christian counselors grow faith based private practices!Whitney is a licensed professional counselor and owns a growing group practice in Savannah, Georgia. Along with a wealth of experience managing a practice, she also has an extensive history working in a variety of clinical and religious settings, allowing her to specialize in consulting for faith-based practices and those wanting to connect with religious organizations.

Knowing the pains and difficulties surrounding building a private practice, she started this podcast to help clinicians start, grow, and scale a faith-based practice. She has learned how to start and grow a successful practice that adheres to her own faith and values. And as a private practice consultant, she has helped many clinicians do the same.

Thanks For Listening!

Feel free to leave a comment below or share this podcast on social media by clicking on one of the social media links below! Alternatively, leave a review on iTunes and subscribe!

Faith in Practice is part of the Practice of the Practice Podcast Network, a network of podcasts that are changing the world. To hear other podcasts like Empowered and Unapologetic, Bomb Mom, Imperfect Thriving, Marketing a Practice or Beta Male Revolution, go to

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.