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Digital Seminar

Misattributed Paternity and DNA Surprises: Clinical Approaches and Ethical Considerations for Clients with Unexpected Genetic Revelations

Ashley Shepard, PsyD, LICSW, MA
Approx. 6 Hours
Feb 28, 2024
Product Code:
Media Type:
Digital Seminar - Also available: Live Webinar

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“I started crying. Realizing that the person in the mirror was a mystery to me, I felt a profound sense of loss and confusion.”

Imagine the shock when the very foundation of your identity is shaken.

It’s exactly what’s happening to so many of the millions of people using consumer DNA kits. Looking for their family history or long-lost relatives they can encounter so much more – often learning that the person they thought was their biological parent is not biologically related to them.

Grief, confusion, anger. Feeling disconnected and unsure of their place in the world, these DNA surprises are bringing more people than ever before to therapy longing for answers to one of life’s most fundamental questions: Who am I?

With each new reality show and DNA kit sold, the likelihood of you encountering this scenario in your practice goes up. But this wasn’t covered in grad school…

Now with this training you can get the training and clinical tools you need to prepare yourself to address this growing client population.

You’ll gain insights into the psychological impact of genetic revelations and get clear ethical guidance, on handling some of the biggest dilemmas you’ll face on confidentiality, disclosure and more.

Plus you’ll walk away with a toolkit for helping them work through the grief, confusion, and anger they may face on their transformative journey of selfdiscovery. You’ll leave this training feeling ready to help clients navigate their genetic revelations and embrace a new chapter of self discovery and acceptance.

So don’t wait - Purchase today!


Planning Committee Disclosure - No relevant relationships

All members of the PESI, Inc. planning committee have provided disclosures of financial relationships with ineligible organizations and any relevant non-financial relationships prior to planning content for this activity. None of the committee members had relevant financial relationships with ineligible companies or other potentially biasing relationships to disclose to learners.  For speaker disclosures, please see the faculty biography.

CE Information Coming Soon

Continuing education credit information is coming soon for this non-interactive self-study package.

CEs may be available for select professions, as listed in the target audience. Hours will be dependent on the actual recording time. Please check with your state licensing board or organization for specific requirements. 

There may be an additional fee for CE certificates. Please contact our Customer Service at 1-800-844-8260 for more details. 

**Materials that are included in this course may include interventions and modalities that are beyond the authorized practice of mental health professionals. As a licensed professional, you are responsible for reviewing the scope of practice, including activities that are defined in law as beyond the boundaries of practice in accordance with and in compliance with your professions standards.

Additional Info

Access for Self-Study (Non-Interactive)

Access never expires for this product.


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  1. Describe the occurrence and characteristics of misattributed paternity events that are revealed as incidental findings during recreational genetic testing.
  2. Assess the complexity and far-reaching implications of discoveries made through DNA testing on individuals’ personal, family, and social dynamics.
  3. Apply ethical principles to how genetic information can be appropriately integrated into psychological therapy, intervention, and education.
  4. Discuss the psychological and emotional consequences experienced by individuals who learn that their presumed father is not their biological father due to direct-to consumer DNA testing.
  5. Describe how the revelation of misattributed paternity affects individuals’ sense of self, selfidentity, and the reevaluation of their personal narratives.
  6. Incorporate grief and cognitive interventions into work with clients who’ve experienced a misattributed paternity event to manage feelings of loss and emotional overwhelm.


Unveiling Hidden Truths: Understanding the Complexities of Misattributed Paternity

  • History of assisted reproductive technology and adoption
  • Definition and prevalence of misattributed paternity
  • Explore the emotional impact of unexpected genetic revelations
  • Understand transgenerational trauma and why DNA matters
  • Case studies illustrating the complexities of these situations

Legal, Ethical and Cultural Considerations for Mental Health Professionals

  • Known vs unknown donors
  • How the “right to know” one’s biological origins is relevant to today’s laws
  • Reproductive tourism – how America is available to the rest of the world
  • Changes on the horizon – how laws have changed, and where we can still find room to grow
  • Confidentiality and disclosure: Balance client privacy with potential familial consequences
  • Informed consent: Discuss DNA testing and potential outcomes with clients
  • Cultural sensitivity: Address diverse cultural perspectives on family and identity

Identity Disruption after DNA Surprises

  • The complexities of identity formation
  • How identity is impacted in the wake of unexpected genetic revelations
  • Late revelation adoption
  • Potential conflicts within family relationships and social networks
  • How to promote resilience and selfacceptance in the face of identity disruption

The Grief, Anger and Emotional Overload of Misattributed Parentage: Interventions to Cope, Process, Accept, and Find Meaning

  • The unique challenges of grief in clients with misattributed parentage
  • Manifestations of grief
  • Educate clients about the grieving process and normalizing their emotions
  • Different models of grief and their limitations
  • CBT strategies to develop coping skills
  • DBT interventions for anger
  • ACT based interventions to develop nonjudgmental acceptance
  • Journaling to explore emotions, facilitate forgiveness and find meaning

Limitations of the Research and Potential Treatment Risks

Target Audience

  • Counselors
  • Social Workers
  • Psychologists
  • Marriage and Family Therapists
  • Physicians
  • Nurses
  • Other Mental Health Professionals


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Your satisfaction is our goal and our guarantee. Concerns should be addressed to: PO Box 1000, Eau Claire, WI 54702-1000 or call 1-800-844-8260.

ADA Needs
We would be happy to accommodate your ADA needs; please call our Customer Service Department for more information at 1-800-844-8260.

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