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Digital Seminar

The Role of the Therapist in Court Proceedings: Best Practices for Documentation, Preparing Effective Reports, Testifying in Court, and Becoming an Expert Witness

Timothy Dinan, Esq. |  Mary Petersen, LMSW, ACSW
Approx. 6 Hours
Sep 20, 2024
Product Code:
Media Type:
Digital Seminar - Also available: Live Webinar


“You’ve been served!”

Few things strike fear in the hearts of therapists more than being called to testify.

If you haven’t yet been involved with the courts, it’s very likely that you will be.

And if you, like so many mental health practitioners, have any uncertainty about how to respond when called to testify, submit records to the court, or write a letter to the court on behalf of a client, this course is for you.

Join attorney Timothy Dinan and psychotherapist Mary Petersen, experts in the intersection of mental health and the law, to learn how to protect your clients’ rights, safeguard your license, and uphold the highest ethical standards while dealing with the court. Demystify the complex role therapists play in court proceedings as you learn skills to:

  • Know when and how to comply with or quash a subpoena
  • Write reports that are useful while protecting your clients’ privacy and your license
  • Respond confidently and effectively to direct and cross-examination

As a bonus, you’ll learn the benefits of becoming an expert witness and the next steps involved in adding this potentially lucrative service to your business profile.

Purchase today for this one-of-a-kind training that will ensure you are prepared for any level of interaction with the judicial system in your role as a mental health professional.


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.

* Credit Note - 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 your profession. 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.


Timothy Dinan, Esq.'s Profile

Timothy Dinan, Esq. Related seminars and products

Dinan Legal Services, PLLC

Timothy Dinan, is an attorney licensed in Michigan and Arizona. He has tried hundreds of cases and deposed thousands of witnesses over the last 30 years. He currently represents lawyers in attorney misconduct proceedings and bar applicants in character and fitness matters. He also maintains an active criminal defense practice. Mr. Dinan has taught at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, Michigan State College of Law, and Eastern Michigan University. He has given many professional presentations to the Institute of Continuing Legal Education, the State Bar of Michigan and other groups and organizations.

Mr. Dinan’s practice regularly employs psychologists and social workers as part of legal representation. He works with these mental health professionals to assist his clients in meeting their legal goals and maintaining their long-term mental health.


Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Timothy Dinan maintains a private practice. He receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc. He has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.
Non-financial: Timothy Dinan is a sustaining fellow with the State Bar of Michigan Foundation. He is a member of the State Bar of Michigan, the Incorporated Society of Irish American Lawyers, and the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan.



Mary Petersen, LMSW, ACSW's Profile

Mary Petersen, LMSW, ACSW Related seminars and products

Mary Petersen, LMSE, ACSW, has served as an expert witness in her field for almost 20 years in various capacities, providing oral, written, and in-person testimony in dozens of cases. She has worked with several different attorneys and has developed a comfort level with a process that mental health professionals often report finding stressful. She has learned how to prepare for dealing with legal issues, to present facts and her opinion succinctly, and to “think on her feet.” Ms. Petersen recognized a need for mental health professionals to obtain the training required to perform well in this challenging arena, so they are better able to serve their clients as well as others involved in the legal process.

Ms. Petersen has been a clinical social worker since 1999, and in private practice since 2005, is certified and licensed through the state of Michigan. She sees individuals, families and groups by appointment. Ms. Petersen treats adolescents and adults, most often for anxiety, depression, grief, trauma, and relationship issues, in addition to speaking to a variety of audiences on topics related to mental and behavioral health. She also provides life coaching to adults seeking present and future-focused, solution-oriented direction with accountability. Ms. Petersen possesses a degree in English and has been published on multiple occasions.


Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Mary Petersen maintains a private practice and has employment relationships with Grosse Pointe News and Crucible Consultants, LLC. She receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc. She has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.
Non-financial: Mary Petersen is a member of the National Association of Social Workers.


Additional Info

Access for Self-Study (Non-Interactive)

Access never expires for this product.


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  1. Identify the role mental health professionals play in the American justice system.
  2. Evaluate principles of good technical writing for mental health professionals that will withstand scrutiny upon later review.
  3. Differentiate what types of witnesses there are, what an expert witness is, and the requirements for each role.
  4. Examine where testimony may be presented and the steps of presenting an expert opinion.
  5. Identify cross examination questioning and strategies to respond to it.
  6. Determine a routine to monitor your experience as a witness and how to harness that experience for future growth.


The Role of Mental Health Practitioners in the Judicial System

  • Dispelling myths – it’s not what you see on tv!
  • Legal terms and the art of litigation
  • Lawyers, police, government officials: handling contacts and inquiries
  • Need-to-know professional ethics principles
  • Court-involved therapy: roles and boundaries
  • Precedence, guidelines, and best practices
  • Limitations of the research and potential risks

Subpoenas and Mental Health Providers

  • First steps when being served
  • Respond appropriately to subpoenas:
    • Subpoena duces tecum
    • Criminal subpoenas
    • Civil subpoenas
  • Quashing subpoenas
  • Rights of subpoenaed witnesses

Therapist Documentation and the Courts

  • Psychotherapy notes, medical records, and HIPPA
  • Permissible uses and denial of access
  • Therapist-client privilege: rationale and limits
  • Motion to protect privileged information
  • Letters to the court on behalf of the client: do’s and don’ts
  • Effective report writing: legal logic and organizational schemes
  • Case studies: Ethical violations

Testifying in Court

  • Proper preparation for testimony
  • The 3 types of testimony
  • How to testify
  • Cross-examination: logical fallacies, effective concession, and more
  • State-specific processes
  • Therapist ethics and boundaries
  • Live demonstration: Cross-examination

Expert Witness: Start to Finish

  • Fact witness vs expert witness
  • The business of being an expert witness
  • Court-appointed experts and compensation
  • Interactive activity: Mock trial

Target Audience

  • Psychologists
  • Psychiatrists
  • Counselors
  • Social Workers
  • Psychotherapists
  • Marriage and Family Therapists
  • Case Managers
  • Addiction Counselors
  • Other Mental Health Professionals

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