Couples, Minors, Insurance Billing, and Legal Rights of Access to Records

2 CE Credit Hours. Legal-Ethical. Continuing Education Session Replay

Presented By: Eric Strom, JD PhD LMHC; Roy Huggins, LPC NCC

Couples therapy, family therapy, and working with minors all get complex enough without even considering the struggle of determining who has access to what records.

What’s more, for those of us who employ a Family Systems approach to therapy, working within the medical model of 3rd-party payers introduces the wrinkle of choosing a single, individual “Identified Patient” within the couple or family we’re working with.

Attorney and mental health counselor Eric Strom, JD PhD LMHC will help us navigate these complexities. Eric has been both a therapist and an attorney and consultant to therapists, for many years. In this program, he will help unravel the messy situation of determining who has access to what records and how we need to inform clients of their rights. And he will provide some strategies for reconciling the family systems model of conceptualizing clients with the medical model used by insurance companies.

This presentation for Counselors, Clinical Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists, and Psychologists in both solo and group practice settings will discuss vital legal-ethical issues that arise in couples counseling, family therapy, and when working with minors. This presentation is suitable for both solo practitioners and group practice leaders, and it is relevant for practices that are 100% in-person, 100% telehealth, and a mixture of both.

Course Description

Educational Objectives

  • Describe how rights of access to records work within the context of therapy with multiple clients, e.g. couples, and with minors
  • Describe how rights of access to records are affected by the designation of an Identified Patient, such as in couples or family therapy
  • Reconcile the medical model with family systems models for providing care so as to ensure that couples and family therapy provided within the context of managed care remains legal and ethical


  1. Clients’ right to access their records
    • HIPAA vs. State Law
    • Minors
  2. Identifying the client & access to records
    • Family systems model vs medical model
    • 3rd Party Payers
  3. Applying client access rights
    • Informing clients/participants
    • Confidentiality in subsystem work
    • Reconciling family system and medical models


  • US Dept. of Health and Human Services. (2006). HIPAA Administrative Simplification. Washington, DC: Author.
  • US Dept. of Health and Human Services. (2013). HIPAA Omnibus Final Rule. Washington, DC: Author.
2 CE Credit Hours.

Presented/Developed By

Eric Ström JD PhD LMHC is an attorney and Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Seattle, Washington. As an attorney, Eric provides legal counsel, consultation, and guidance to mental health professionals. Eric’s counseling practice is focused on providing counseling services to combat veterans as well as providing supervision and consultation to other clinicians. Eric currently serves on the American Mental Health Counselors Association Ethics Committee, and is the ethics advisor for the Washington Mental Health Counselors Association. Eric has taught a range of courses in counseling and professional ethics at a variety of graduate and undergraduate programs.

Eric earned a PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision at Oregon State University, a Master of Arts Degree in Counseling Psychology from the Northwest School of Professional Psychology at Argosy University Seattle, graduated cum laude from Wayne State University School of Law in Detroit Michigan, attended the Hague Academy of International Law in the Hague Netherlands, and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Linguistics from the University of Michigan.

Roy Huggins, LPC NCCRoy Huggins, LPC NCC, is a counselor in private practice who also directs Person-Centered Tech. Roy worked as a professional Web developer for 7 years before changing paths, and makes it his mission to grow clinicians’ understanding of the Internet and other electronic communications mediums for the future of our practices and our professions.

Roy is an adjunct instructor at the Portland State University Counseling program where he teaches Ethics, and is a member of the Zur Institute advisory board. He has acted as a subject matter expert on HIPAA, security and clinical use of technology for Counseling licensure boards and both state and national mental health professional organizations. He has co-authored or authored 2 book chapters, and he routinely consults with mental health colleagues on ethical and practical issues surrounding tech in clinical practice. He served for 5 years on the board of the Oregon Mental Health Counselors Association and then the Oregon Counseling Association as the Technology Committee Chair.

He really likes this stuff.

Program Notices

Accuracy, Utility, and Risks Statement: This program discusses strategies for complying with HIPAA and possibly some state rules. It may not include information on all applicable state laws. Misapplication of the materials, or errors in the materials, could result in non-compliance with applicable laws or ethics codes.

Conflicts of Interest: None stated.

Commercial Support: None.

This course is subject to our cancellation/refund policy and complaint policy.

2 CE Credit Hours.

2 CE Credit Hours. Legal-Ethical. Continuing Education Session Replay


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