Avoiding Liability Bulletin – June 2005

… Most state laws make it a crime and a violation of the licensing law for a licensee to advertise in a manner that is false, fraudulent, misleading or deceptive. Licensees (other than psychologists) have invited trouble over the years for using their Ph.D., together with the word “psychotherapy” or “psychotherapist,” in advertising. If advertising is not done appropriately, it may be proven that the therapist was trying to mislead the public into believing that the licensee was a “psychologist.”

One of the ways that this may be proven is to determine whether or not the advertisement contains the true and complete name (the title) of the license held. If it does not, the state may seek to take disciplinary action. It is a good idea to include in any advertisement (in addition to whatever else may be required in a particular state) the exact title of the license. In this way, the therapist is in a much better position to demonstrate or prove that there was no intent to mislead the public.

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Richard Leslie

Richard S. Leslie is an attorney and acknowledged expert on the interrelationship between law and the practice of marriage and family therapy and psychotherapy. Most recently, he was a consultant to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) and has written articles regarding legal and ethical issues for their Family Therapy Magazine. Prior to his work with AAMFT, Richard was Legal Counsel to the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT) for approximately twenty-two years. While there, he also served as their director of Government Relations and tirelessly advocated for due process and fairness for licensees and applicants.

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