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, Eighth Edition
Anne Marie "Nancy" Wheeler and Burt Bertram

This eighth edition provides a current and comprehensive discussion of counselors' legal and ethical responsibilities, an examination of state and federal laws as they relate to practice, and helpful risk management strategies. Attorney Nancy Wheeler and Burt Bertram, a private practitioner and counselor educator, offer real-world practical tips to help navigate professional risks while providing competent clinical care. New or updated topics include matters surrounding informed consent, current case law on duty to warn/protect and issues surrounding suicide in college/university settings, electronic records and ransomware concerns, and updates on state licensure board data regarding boundary violations. The authors' legal and ethical decision-making model will assist counselors and students with processing their own legal and ethical dilemmas, and the ACA Code of Ethics is included as a handy reference.

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)

Privacy breaches and group counseling (9/19)


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)
Digital communications, bullying and suicide (6/19)


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)

HIPAA violations and civil monetary penalties (8/19)


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)
Planning in advance for disasters and emergencies (5/19)
The importance of using decision-making models (7/19)

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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