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Mar 30, 2020

An interview with Dr. Ben Caldwell about the rapidly changing directives during the COVID-19 pandemic. Curt and Katie interview Ben about telehealth, HIPAA, and all of the efforts of continuity of care during quarantine, shelter-in-place orders. We look at legal, ethical, and clinical responsibilities during these uncertain times.         

It’s time to reimagine therapy and what it means to be a therapist. To support you as a whole person and a therapist, your hosts, Curt Widhalm and Katie Vernoy talk about how to approach the role of therapist in the modern age.

Interview with Benjamin Caldwell, PsyD, LMFT

Benjamin Caldwell, PsyD is a California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (#42723) and the Education and Director for SimplePractice Learning. He currently serves as adjunct faculty for California Statue 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 for several books, including Saving Psychotherapy and Basics of California Law for LMFTS, LPCCs, and LCSWs.

In this episode we talk about:

  • How to identify what to do and how to respond to all the changing instructions from officials about practicing therapy during these times
  • The debate around telehealth versus in person treatment
  • The legal and ethical responsibilities therapists hold regarding continuity of care
  • Client opt-in and preference, fears about client abandonment
  • The myth that you are required to keep seeing clients no matter what
  • The moral aspect of choices made during treatment, especially during uncertain times like these
  • Clinical considerations for clients who are not appropriate for telehealth
  • The importance of identifying and managing all types of risks during these times
  • The fallacy that you can now practice across state lines without any restrictions
  • The possibilities for seeing clients who have returned home to other states, the reasonable argument for continuity of care
  • Advice for implementing telehealth quickly, including choosing a HIPAA compliant platform
  • The benefits of complying with telehealth training requirements
  • Misinformation that can confuse folks within the Facebook Therapist Groups
  • The challenges that licensing boards are facing related to testing and licensing delays and related laws or regulations
  • Professional wills – basic requirements and legal/ethical responsibilities
  • Connecting with clients, human to human related to illness and emergency
  • The growing importance of communication in this new era of health awareness
  • The requirements for “essential workers”

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Resources mentioned:

We’ve pulled together resources mentioned in this episode and put together some handy-dandy links. Please note that some of the links below might be affiliate links, so if you purchase after clicking below, we may get a little bit of cash in our pockets. We thank you in advance!

Saving Psychotherapy by Dr. Ben Caldwell

SimplePractice Platform (has a telehealth add-on option)

SimplePractice free template for a Professional Will

SimplePractice Learning (SPL)

SPL telehealth legal and ethical training (free for a limited time)

SPL HIPAA for Mental Health Professionals course

SPL Telehealth Getting Started course

SPL California Telehealth Law course


Therapy Reimagined 2020 Conference: Speakers!!

Therapy Reimagined 2020 Call for Sponsors


Relevant Episodes:

Ben’s previous episode: The Fight to Save Psychotherapy


Connect with us!

Our Facebook Group – The Modern Therapists Group

Get Notified About Therapy Reimagined 2020 (and TR2019 Virtual Conference)


Our consultation services:

The Fifty-Minute Hour


Who we are:

Curt Widhalm is in private practice in the Los Angeles area. He is the cofounder of the Therapy Reimagined conference, the CFO of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, an Adjunct Professor at Pepperdine University, a former Subject Matter Expert for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, and a loving husband and father. He is 1/2 great person, 1/2 provocateur, and 1/2 geek, in that order. He dabbles in the dark art of making "dad jokes" and usually has a half-empty cup of coffee somewhere nearby. Learn more at:

Katie Vernoy is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, coach, and consultant supporting leaders, visionaries, executives, and helping professionals to create sustainable careers. Katie, with Curt, has developed workshops and a conference, Therapy Reimagined, to support therapists navigating through the modern challenges of this profession. Katie is also President of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. In her spare time, Katie is secretly siphoning off Curt's youthful energy, so that she can take over the world. Learn more at:

A Quick Note:

Our opinions are our own. We are only speaking for ourselves – except when we speak for each other, or over each other. We’re working on it.

Our guests are also only speaking for themselves and have their own opinions. We aren’t trying to take their voice, and no one speaks for us either. Mostly because they don’t want to, but hey.


Stay in Touch:

Our Facebook Group – The Modern Therapist’s Group



Voice Over by DW McCann

Music by Crystal Grooms Mangano