Risk Management

The American Counseling Association (ACA) is no longer offering risk management services.

Risk management is a very complex area. ACA believes that, whenever questions arise, counselors should consult with a lawyer licensed in the jurisdiction in which they practice.

Recommended  Risk Management Resources

One resource, recommended by Nancy Wheeler, former ACA Risk Management Consultant, is Martindale.com, an online legal portal that can be used to search for attorneys. ACA has no affiliation with Martindale and does not endorse the attorneys listed on the company’s website. ACA members should keep in mind that it is important to verify the credentials and past work of all prospective legal advisers.

In addition, professional counselors should use all of the services available to them through their liability insurance provider. In the event of a license protection or professional liability incident or notice of complaint, ACA members insured through HPSO should call HPSO for support at 800-982-9491, or go to hpso.com for more information.

ACA Risk Management Resources

ACA offers a variety of resources to counselors looking for information about risk management.


The Counselor and the Law: A Guide to Legal and Ethical Practice, Seventh Edition
Anne Marie "Nancy" Wheeler and Burt Bertram

Each chapter in The Counselor and the Law has been updated to reflect changes in the 2014 ACA Code of Ethics, findings of recent court cases, and new federal and state legislation. Attorney Nancy Wheeler and Burt Bertram, a private practitioner and counselor educator, provide a comprehensive overview of the law as it pertains to counseling practice; an in-depth look at counselors' legal and ethical responsibilities; and an array of risk management strategies. This edition contains a thoroughly updated chapter on distance counseling, technology, and social media; regulatory updates to the HIPAA and the HITECH Act; and recent case law developments regarding legal risks for counselor educators. The issues surrounding civil malpractice liability, licensure board complaints, confidentiality, duty to warn, suicide and threats of harm to self, professional boundaries, records and documentation, and managing a counseling practice are also addressed in detail.


The Counselor as Expert Witness or Witness of Fact

Private Practice: Preparing for Retirement, Disability or Death

Counselor Risk Management: Counselors and Technology – A Two-Edged Sword

Counselor Risk Management: What you Didn’t Learn in Grad School That Could Lead to a Lawsuit or Licensure Board Complaint

Risk Management for Counselors Columns

The following documents are risk management columns by Anne Marie "Nancy" Wheeler, J.D., an attorney licensed in Maryland and the District of Columbia., published monthly in Counseling Today.

Some of the columns below references ACA's ethics consultation services, however the contact information is not up to date. To contact the ACA Ethics and Professional Standards Department  please call (800) 347 6647, ext. 321 or fill out the online Ethics Contact Form

Please note that these documents are a member-only benefit. Please login to view these documents.


Health Information Hackers (12/14)
Apple Watch and Privacy (5/15)
Potential privacy problems with cloud-based storage (10/15)
Preparing for your ‘digital afterlife’ (5/16)
Ensuring cloud service providers comply with HIPAA (12/16)
Phishing email targets HIPAA covered entities (2/17)
Protecting against ransomware (3/17)
Artificial intelligence raises new questions for counselors (3/18)

Confidentiality, Privileged Communication, and Privacy:

Do proposed regulations properly protect client privacy? (4/16)
Does opioid crisis change thinking on confidentiality? (1/18)
Of software patches and privacy breaches (10/18)


Balancing child rights with parental rights (9/16)
Providing services with the consent of one parent (10/16)
Criminal case could hold lessons for teens and counselors (5/18)
Student suicides raise concerns about potential counselor liability (12/18)


HIPAA (1/14)
HIPAA (5/13)
HIPAA HITECH Law Changes (2/13)
New HIPAA Privacy Rule (7/2014)
HIPPA/HITECH enforcement unlikely to abate (4/17)
Protected health information and the HIPAA breach portal (10/17) 
Know your state’s data breach reporting law (11/18)


Electronic Health Records Risks (1/15)
Records Custodian Appointment (6/14)
Participating in the exchange of electronic health information (8/17)


Clients (9/13)
Subpoenas (8/13)
Fee-Splitting (3/13)
Minimizing High Liability Risk (2/15)
Subpoenas, HIPAA, HITECH, LLCs (3/14)
National Practitioner Data Bank (11/14)
Title IX (4/15)
Clear and Present Danger  (6/15)
Determining proper insurance coverage (9/15)
When can non clients sue counselors? (11/15)
Payment for serving as a witness in court (12/15)
Providing access to counseling for those with limited English proficiency (2/16)
Using ACA’s ethics and risk management services (6/16)
Settling on the proper form for your practice (7/16)
Client is secretly recording counseling sessions (8/16)
Seeking payment in bankruptcy cases (11/16)
Handling a subpoena for client records (1/17)
State courts filing could influence future duty to warn decisions  (6/17)
Sexual reassignment surgery and letters of support  (7/17)
Insurance issues for counselors heading into retirement (9/17)
The pitfalls of serving as both treating counselor and expert witness 11/17)
The wisdom of finding a local attorney (12/17)
Discussing advance health care planning with clients (2/18)
Finding legal representation for undocumented immigrants (4/18)
Assessing the risk potential of a new supervisory position (6/18)
Providing input on client marijuana use (7/18)
Hiring independent contractors vs. hiring employees (8/18)

Professional Responsibility:

Intervening with Counselor Colleagues(3/15)
Coordination of Care (8/14)
Fees and antitrust laws (8/15)
Banning weapons in private office (6/15)
Promoting or selling dietary supplements as a counselor (1/16)
Supervisors inherently assume more risk (3/16)


Reporting (6/13)
Reporting animal abuse and cruelty (5/17)
Recognizing and addressing elder abuse (9/18)
Implications of red flag gun laws for counselors (1/19)

Resolving Ethical Issues:

Client Complaint (2/14)
Licensure Board Complaints (9/14)
Non-client Board Complaints (10/14)

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