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Professional Development Fall Conference Recap

by Rosemarie Coratola, Psy.D., LMFT
CTAMFT Secretary & Professional Development Committee Chair (profdev@ctamft.org

“Wonderful and much-needed presentation.”
“Very informative and current.”
These are some of the comments from participants who attended CTAMFT’s Fall Specialty Conference last month.

The conference included two half-day workshops and was filled with lively and thought-provoking discussion. Ethics and Marriage and Family Therapy was presented by Sebastian Perumbilly, Ph.D., LMFT in the morning session. The afternoon workshop presenter, psychologist Danielle Moreggi, Ph.D., discussed the DSM-5 and changes made to the previous version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), DSM-IV-TR.

2013 Professional Development - EthicsEthics
Ethical guidelines for Marriage and Family Therapists are listed in the form of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) “Code of Ethics,” and are guidelines. However, they do not identify exact methods to carry out each of the guidelines. Ethical principals are developed through thoughtful consideration about the needs of the client(s) and not those of the therapist. Dr. Perumbilly led the workshop participants in lively discussion about case vignettes and ethical dilemmas, which led many in attendance to rethink their current practice procedures.

Specific legal and ethical issues in MFT were reviewed including 1) identifying the client or patient, 2) clinical documentation, 3) confidentiality, 4) communicating with other systems, 5) working with minors, 6) reporting of child abuse and neglect, 7) intimate partner violence, 8) use of technology and 9) therapist values.

The group also discussed managing possible risks and dealing with complaints. Record keeping was cited as an important component in this. The group was encouraged to review the AAMFT Code of Ethics that can be found at AAMFT Code of Ethics . This important topic sparked much discussion and led to many more questions, along with requests for additional information from legal and state administrative authorities.

Fall Specialty Conf_3DSM-5 Overview
Dr. Moreggi reviewed changes to the DSM that will take effect beginning October 2014 with use of the DSM-5. This revised manual is structured into three sections. The first describes how to use the manual. The second is a listing and description of all of the disorders. And the third section identifies assessment measures and conditions for further study. The chapter order better reflects the lifespan, in comparison to the DSM-IV-TR version, and age-related factors were added to the criteria when appropriate.

Some of the highlighted changes include the Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) of the DSM-III, DSM-IV and IV-TR was eliminated and replaced with a Severity Specifier (e.g., No Impairment, Mild Impairment, Moderate Impairment and Severe Impairment). The Not Otherwise Specified (NOS) specifier was replaced by two options – Other Specified Disorder (OSD) and Unspecified Disorder (USD). The first allows the clinician to indicate the specific reason that the presentation does not meet full criteria, and the second is used when the symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment but do not meet the full criteria, or number of symptoms, for the diagnostic class.

Mental Retardation was changed to Intellectual Disability, and is expected to change further to Intellectual Developmental Disorder in the next DSM iteration. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) now includes Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Disorder, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder and Pervasive Developmental Disorder.

A new category of Trauma and Stressor-Related Disorders includes PTSD, Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder, Acute Stress Disorder and Adjustment Disorder. Many other changes were noted during this afternoon session.

Additional DSM-5 resources can be found at www.psych.org, www.DSM5.org, http://psychnews.psychiatryonline.org and www.psychiatry.org/dsm5.

CTAMFT wishes to thank the presenters for their engaging discussions throughout the day, the Courtyard Marriott Shelton and the CTAMFT Professional Development Committee; Normajean Cefarelli, Kristen Cocchia, Erin Cushing, Jessica Floyd, Beth Golden, Roxanne Pomeroy and Alycia Toohey. Of course, this conference could not have flowed smoothly without the hard work of the CTAMFT staff – Wendy Haggerty and Shannon Eterginio, thank you both!

For additional information, or if you are interested in joining the CTAMFT Ethics or Professional Development Committees, contact – ethics@ctamft.org or profdev@ctamft.org. We would love to hear from you.

Ethics Committee Update

by Normajean Cefarelli, LMFT
Chair, Ethics Committee (ethics@ctamft.org

scaleCTAMFT’s Ethics Committee is a resource on ethical practice of MFT in Connecticut. The Ethics Committee is responsible for providing updated information to our members about the application of the AAMFT ethics code. We also assist with ethical best practice questions and CT law resources/information relevant to our practice as MFTs.

2014 Ethics Committee Charge
The Ethics Committee has a focused charge for the New Year, including researching and disseminating information about the ethics code updates. The 2014 focus includes providing resources for educating yourself/supervisees to:

  • Manage confidentiality with multiple family members.
  • Legalities related to special populations like children/adolescents, persons with disabilities, HIV+ and drug addiction.
  • Technology and therapy, best practices and confidentiality.

If you have resources to share, or a desire to participate on the ethics committee, please contact Normajean Cefarelli via email.

Earn Up to 6 CEUs: CTAMFT Professional Development Workshop

Earn up to 6 CEUs – October 25, 2013

The CTAMFT Professional Development Committee is proud to bring to you our Fall Workshop this year. We, your friends and colleagues, have worked tirelessly to bring our membership something special, timely and ultimately useful for your continuing education demands. We have created a full-day or half-day – morning or afternoon option – to meet your busy scheduling needs.

Plus, a really cool part, is that lunch is included with every registration!

We, as always, have worked to keep the cost of this yearly offering as accessible as possible. A full day is $90 and EITHER half-day option is $75, and all registrations include lunch.

We hope to see our friends and colleagues on the 25th, to get caught up and to learn about the changes in the DSM-5 that affects every one of our jobs. Plus, if you attend the morning Ethics session, you can claim the credits towards a reduction in your annual Liability Insurance fees.

If you have any questions, please contact Shannon, our new Association Manager.

Date: Friday October 25, 2013

Time: 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Location: Shelton, CT – Courtyard Marriott
Cost: $90 full-day; $75 half-day
8:00 AM Registration and Continental Breakfast
*8:30 AM – 12:30 PM Ethics in the MFT Profession with Dr. Sebastian Perumbilly (3 CEUs)
12:30 PM – 1:30 PM Lunch
1:30 PM – 4:30 PM DSM-5 Overview with Dr. Danielle Moreggi (3 CEUs)


Morning Session: “Ethics in the MFT Profession,” Dr. Sebastian Perumbilly

Seb Perumbilly is an assistant professor in the Department of Marriage and Family Therapy Program at Southern Connecticut State University. He is actively involved with academic, clinical and research communities both in the United States and in India. He teaches Research Methods, Ethics and core courses in the field of Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT). He holds an M.A. in Bioethics; and another M.A. and Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies with a focus in MFT from the University of Connecticut.

*This workshop is eligible towards liability insurance discount.

Afternoon Session: “DSM-5 Overview,” Dr. Danielle Moreggi

Dr. Danielle Moreggi has been providing psychological services since 1997 and has been a licensed Clinical Psychologist in the state of CT for over 10 years. With a private practice in Milford, CT, she provides psycho-therapy, assessment, and professional consultative services, with an expertise in college student mental health. She continues to serve as full-time faculty at the University of New Haven Psychology Department in West Haven, CT since 2001; and also as a professional trainer for the New England Institute of Addiction Studies (NEIAS) since 1998.

Professional Development Workshop – register TODAY

CTAMFT Professional Development Committee is proud to present to you our Fall Specialty Workshop. We have created an opportunity to meet CEU requirements in a format that also satisfies Ethics training requirements as well as a great opportunity to get comfortable with the new DSM-5 codes. Please choose either a full day, a morning half-day or an afternoon half-day.

This workshop is being held in upper Fairfield County to hopefully capture the largest portion of the state’s MFT professional population. We look forward to seeing you there!

“Ethics in the MFT Profession” with Dr. Sebastian Perumbilly – morning session
“DSM-5 Overview” with Dr. Danielle Moreggi – afternoon session

When: Friday, October 25, 2013

Location: Shelton Courtyard Marriott

Time: Full Day – 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM – 6 CEUs
AM Half Day – 8:30 AM – 1:00 PM – 3 CEUs
PM Half Day – Noon – 4:30 PM – 3 CEUs

Cost: Full Day – $90 (Early Bird of $75 through 9/30)
Half Day – $75 (Early Bird of $60 through 9/30)

Click here to REGISTER!

AM includes ethics presentation, breakfast & lunch; PM includes DSM-5 Overview, lunch and snack

Be Informed – Get Involved

Dear CTAMFT Members,

AAMFT has asked the membership for feedback concerning the revision to our Code of Ethics. The revisions were assessed as to both the scope of change and the content of the changes. The approved draft of the revised Code of Ethics has generated a reaction piece from seven former Presidents of AAMFT who expressed concerns of replacing “Marriage and Family Therapists” with “AAMFT Members”.

As this is an issue of importance, we wanted to open a more “local” conversation about our professional ethics code with our Connecticut membership to discover what the consensus is regarding the proposed Code revisions.

Below is the response of former Presidents for your review and we encourage you to share your thoughts on via our Facebook page or Blog.

Also, we encourage you to respond directly by January 31, 2012 on the national level to AAMFT’s request for feedback to the proposed revised Code of Ethics. We have provided a draft of the proposed changes to the Code of Ethics in the Members Only section under “AAMFT Code of Ethics” on ctamft.org.

Best regards,


Subject: In Protest of the Proposed AAMFT Ethics Code Revisions
Dear Division Presidents, Program Directors, and Officers of the Canadian Registry

The letter below is sent on behalf of seven former AAMFT Presidents to express their deepest concern regarding the proposed changes to the AAMFT Code of Ethics. We would appreciate your sharing it with all AAMFT members in your division, your students, colleagues, and all who care about Marriage and Family Therapy.

In Protest of the Proposed AAMFT Ethics Code Revisions

Dear MFT Family,

We are writing today with a grave concern for the profession of Marriage and Family Therapy that each of us values and has dedicated much or all of our careers to. If you have not seen the proposed revisions to the current AAMFT Ethics Code (Ethics Code), please do so immediately. Amazingly, the Ethics Code Task Force has totally excised the term “Marriage and Family Therapist” from the proposed Code of Ethics. This was done on the dubious grounds that the new AAMFT membership categories mean that not all our members are entitled to call themselves “Marriage and Family Therapists,” and therefore keeping the term “marriage and family therapist” in the Code means the Code would not apply to all our members. Here is an excerpt from the proposed revisions to the first three principles:

1. Responsibility to Clients

Marriage and family therapists AAMFT members advance the welfare of families and individuals. They respect the rights of those persons seeking their assistance, and make reasonable efforts to ensure that their services are used appropriately.

1.1Non-Discrimination. Marriage and family therapists Members provide professional assistance to persons without discrimination on the basis of race, age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, disability, gender, health status, religion, national origin, orsexual orientation, gender identity or relationship status.

1.2 Informed Consent. Marriage and family therapists Members obtain appropriate informed consent to therapy or related procedures and use language that is reasonably understandable to clients.

But an ethical code is never meant to be directed at a single professional organization, but at the professional field as a whole.  Not one professional organization we have looked at, including the National Association of Social Workers, the American Psychological Association, the American Bar Association, the American Medical Association, the American Counseling Association, the American Nursing Association, and even the Association of Professional Wildlife Biologists directs its ethical code only at its organization’s members.   All direct their strictures at their entire field.

Thus the ABA Rules of Professional Conduct state “A lawyer shall provide competent representation to a client.”   The AMA Code states “A physician shall be dedicated to providing competent medical care, with compassion and respect for human dignity and rights.”   The ACA Code states “Counselors encourage client growth and development in ways that foster the interest and welfare of clients and promote formation of healthy relationships.”   The Ethical Code for Nurses states “The nurse’s primary commitment is to the patient, whether an individual, family, group, or community.”  The NASW Ethical Code states “Social workers’ primary goal is to help people in need and to address social problems.” The APA Code states, “Psychologists strive to benefit those with whom they work and take care to do no harm.”

By doing away with the term “Marriage and Family Therapist” in the Code, the task force has in essence done away with any ethical code for our field.  Should the proposed code go into effect and a member of the public ask, “what is the ethical code for marriage and family therapists?” The only truthful answer would have to be “there is a code for AAMFT members but not for marriage and family therapy.”  This must not happen.

Licensing boards, courts, third party and practitioner liability insurers, employers, the developers of the MFT National Examination, and others that heretofore have adopted the AAMFT Ethics Code as the standard of ethical practice for licensed marriage and family therapists will be utterly unable to use the proposed standards, since they never mention marriage and family therapists.  The proposed standards thus do severe damage to one of the longstanding goals of AAMFT: to increase professional recognition of and respect for our field.  And they directly undermine licensure, reimbursement, liability protection, and new practitioner evaluation, which are all dependent on a profession-wide code of ethics.

The terrible irony is that a professional organization such as our own has an ethical duty to create an ethics code for the entire profession – not simply for its own members. The ultimate purpose of a code, after all, is to protect the public from unethical practice in the profession as a whole. No other entity is capable of fulfilling this obligation.

The National Association of Social Workers’ Code makes this obligation of a professional association explicit in its preamble:

Professional ethics are at the core of social work. The profession has an obligation to articulate its basic values, ethical principles, and ethical standards. The NASW Code of Ethics sets forth these values, principles, and standards to guide social workers’ conduct.The Code is relevant to all social workers and social work students, regardless of their professional functions, the settings in which they work, or the populations they serve. (our emphasis)

The American Medical Association has a similar statement in its code’s preamble:

The medical profession has long subscribed to a body of ethical statements developed primarily for the benefit of the patient. As a member of this profession, a physician must recognize responsibility to patients first and foremost, as well as to society, to other health professionals, and to self.  The following Principles adopted by the American Medical Association are not laws, but standards of conduct which define the essentials of honorable behavior for the physician. (our emphasis)

Yet the proposed revisions to the AAMFT Code strip away the idea that our profession even is marriage and family therapy, as if all we do is some ill-defined mental health activity and not what the U.S. Public Health Service designated many years ago as one of only five “Core Mental Health Disciplines,” and Newsweek recently labeled one of the “Top 50 Occupations of the Decade.”  Here is an excerpt from the new version of our Preamble:

Both law and ethics govern the practice of professionals. Wmarriage and family therapy.

Are we afraid to even name our own field?

Each of us whose name appears below remembers a time when all of us fought for the right to call Marriage and Family Therapy a licensable field, and to place that title after our names. We appeared before state or provincial legislators who routinely asked if what we did was really a profession — did it have a scholarly literature? Did it have standards for training?  Did it have, they all asked, a code of ethics?  If all we had been able to say was that AAMFT had one, but not the field, we would not have anything like 50 states, the District, and two provinces licensed today.

The proposed changes represent a threat to the core of marriage and family therapy, to our right to practice with our clients, to train and supervise our students, to conduct research with members of the public, and to be a recognized and valued mental health discipline. They threaten the right of the public to be protected from unethical practice by any marriage and family therapist. There can be no compromise on this issue.

AAMFT must either speak for our profession as a whole or our profession will die. We urge every AAMFT member, every person who cares about our practice, everyone who cares about the welfare of our clients, and everyone who calls her or himself a marriage and family therapist to contact the AAMFT Board of Directors immediately and protest these changes (coderevisions@aamft.org). Demand that our organization speak clearly and firmly on what ethical practice means in our profession. Demand that AAMFT speak once again not for ourselves, but for our field.


William C. Nichols,  AAMFT President, 1981-1982
Thomas E. Clark, AAMFT President, 1983-1984
Anna Beth Benningfield, AAMFT President, 1993-1994, 1999-2000
Marcia Lasswell, AAMFT President, 1995-1996
James Morris, AAMFT President, 2001-2002
Scott Johnson, AAMFT President, 2007-2008
Linda Schwallie, AAMFT President, 2009-2010