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Course #: AL15
Ethics for Mental Health Professionals

Publication Date: 2005
Mary L. Caldwell, MA

Course Material and Test are Online

About the Author

Mary L. Caldwell, MA, is a native of western North Carolina. She attended UNC-Chapel Hill, received AB in Religion. She has a Masters of Divinity from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Masters of Arts in Philosophy with a concentration in Medical Ethics from University of Tennessee Knoxville, where she did extensive work in mental health ethics. She is a hospital chaplain, working for over ten years on a 49 bed in-patient psychiatric unit at Mission St. Joseph’s Health Care System in Asheville, NC. She works with children, adolescents, and adults in this setting. She has also done contract work with other psychiatric hospitals, (Highland Hospital, Appalachian Hall, and Charter) leading spirituality groups and worship services. She serves on the Ethics Committee at Mission St. Joseph’s as well as the Institutional Review Board.
She teaches adjunctively at local colleges and universities, including UNC-Asheville. She teaches ethics, medical ethics, and courses in Women’s Studies.


3 hours CE/clock hours
CE Approval Statements (APA, ASWB, NBCC, NAADAC, and state boards)

Mary Caldwell, MA

The online course “Ethics for Mental Health Professionals: Concepts and Current Developments” helps mental health professionals become more aware of the ethical dimensions of practice. Counselors and therapists deal with ethical questions in their daily lives on a regular basis, even if they don’t always stop to think intentionally about choices as ethical decision-makers. Professionals working with clients who are often fragile and vulnerable must cultivate a keen awareness of ethical issues. This online course begins by presenting a basic outline of ethical theory and explores principals which guide ethical thinking.

Learning to recognize an ethical dilemma and utilizing a simple process to sort out choices are central to this course. There are abundant examples, case studies, and scenarios to help illustrate the principles in concrete ways.

There is in-depth consideration of mental health advance directives, which are becoming increasingly available as more states create legislation providing for patients to indicate their wishes concerning treatment. There is, as well, consideration of ethical dimensions of therapy conducted via the internet. This online course offers practical and useful ways to become more intentional about ethical awareness so that the mental health professional can become more comfortable recognizing ethical dimensions of practice, and choosing their best moral response.

Learning Objectives

  1. develop ethical decision making skills by learning a four step process for identifying and resolving ethical dilemmas
  2. discover how the four step process for identifying and resolving ethical dilemmas is applied to real life situations faced by the mental health professional
  3. understand ethical theory as a foundation to making moral decisions and as a guide to acting on what we believe is right and wrong
  4. identify the four cornerstones of ethical principals underlying all decisions in medical and mental health ethics
  5. learn how to identify and understand ethical dilemmas faced by counselors, therapists and social workers
  6. develop awareness of ethical dilemmas as they occur in therapeutic practice
  7. identify current ethical issues raised by electronic therapy, mental health advanced directives and medical technology.

Difficulty Level: Beginning to Intermediate

Conflicts of Interest: No commercial support was received for this CE activity. The authors of this course have no conflicts of interest related to this CE activity.

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