Being Good Enough, Being Your Best:

Proscriptive and Aspirational Ethics in Difficult Times

Friday, September 20, 2019
8:30 AM - 4:00 PM

The Brattleboro Retreat, Brattleboro, Vermont 
6 CE Contact Hours

Click here for additional information regarding CE contact hours for specific disciplines.


Here's how attendees evaluated Kurt White's conference in March, 2019: 

"Kurt was a superb presenter. Obviously in command of the subject. He was clear, kind and skillful."

"Kurt is an amazing speaker! He is extremely knowledgeable and engaging!"

"This is one of the best trainings I've ever been to. He was so intelligent about the subject matter, a great speaker and able to connect historical ideas with real life situations that we face in the work we do."

"Kurt consistently provides a cogent and organized block of information in a lively and enjoyable presentation."

"Out of the 10 or so workshops I've attended at the Retreat, this one was the best! The presenter was fantastic and the content is immediately relevant to mental health issues today."

Click here to Register

Course Description: 

Ethical codes have two poles: an aspirational pole, which suggests an ideal manner of practice to which therapists should aspire, and a proscriptive “thou shalt not” pole which sets a minimum standard of practice. Embedded within our ethical codes, we search, sometimes elusively, for “best practices”. These can be difficult to find in a field where practitioners use starkly different methods and modalities, in clinical situations in which transference and countertransference dynamics can often muddy the water of client and therapist perceptions, and in a world with rapidly shifting norms and cultural contexts. This training will help to unpack these two poles and provide a guide for practitioners to evaluate their own practice in multiple contexts (ex. professional, situational, and cultural). The sometimes confusing and overlapping area of “the law” and therapy practice will also be examined, for the guidance that the law provides, the questions that it raises, and the areas where it remains silent, is contradictory, or might conflict with aspirational ethical ideals. We will also have an update on substance use disorder confidentiality rules, and what has changed in recent years (from 42CFR Part 2), and other specific situations that can emerge when working with addicted and co-occurring clients.

Learning Objectives - at the end of this conference, participants will be able to:

  1. Differentiate aspirational ethics from proscriptive ethics
  2. Identify the components of “standard of care” and its limitations as a guide
  3. Discuss the intersection between ethical and legal issues
  4. Describe the scope of federal substance use disorder privacy guidelines as described in revised 42CFR Part 2 rules
  5. Apply reason when complex ethical situations require supervision and consultation

Kurt White, LICSW, LADC, MAC, CGP practices at the Brattleboro Retreat in Vermont, where he is Sr. Director of Ambulatory Services. He is a past president of the Vermont Association of Addiction Treatment Providers, a Fellow of the American Group Psychotherapy Association, and Adjunct Associate Professor at Smith College School for Social Work, where he teaches Group Theory and Practice and other courses.

Click here to register

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Any questions? Please call 802-258-4359.
Friday, September 20, 2019
The Brattleboro Retreat, Brattleboro, Vermont

8:00 AM - 8:30 AM
        Coffee and Registration
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
  • Ethical codes: fundamentals and tensions – rules vs/ ideals
  • Proscriptive aspects of ethical codes: duties and obligations, mandatory reporting and “duty to warn”
10:00 AM -10:15 AM
       Break and Refreshments 
10:15 AM - 11:30  AM
  • What not to do: managing dual relationships and the frame of the clinical encounter
  • Boundaries crossings and violations
  • Privacy laws including 42 CFR Part 2. HIPAA
11:30 AM - 11:45 AM
11:45 AM - 12:45 PM
  • Supervision, scope of practice, and managing risk
12:45 PM - 1:45 PM
       Lunch in the Retreat cafeteria and included with your registration)
1:45 PM - 3:45 PM
  • What ethics can teach us: holding our ideals in clinical practice
  • Equity,  non-discrimination, value and worth of the individual, right to self-determination, etc.
3:45 PM - 4:00 PM
  • Questions and Answers