Craine Counseling and Consulting Group provides counseling services, social work ethics consultations and social work ethics workshops in a variety of settings.

Informed consent is a legal and ethical term that social workers should be familiar with. Legal documentation is required in all 50 states and varies from state to state. It is important to know the laws in your state.  The concept originated with the recognition of individual rights to freedom, autonomy and dignity. It protects clients and clinicians.

According to a posting on, “Informed consent is the process of informing a client, patient, or research subject of the risks, benefits, expected outcome of a research project, medication, medical procedure, or therapeutic approach in which they have agreed to take part.”  Informed consent is necessary before treatment begins or any time there is a change to the treatment plan.

The process of informed consent involves three (3) parts:

  1. Providing the client with information
  2. Evaluating the client’s capacity to understand the information
  3. Obtaining consent from the client

These three parts guide us in the NASW Code of Ethics with the following sections: Informed Consent (1.03), Access to Records (1.08 (b)), Clients Who Lack Decision Making Capacity (1.14), Evaluation and Research (5.02 (e), (f), (g), (h), (i). They are listed here for your review and are discussed in greater detail in my soon to be published book on social work ethics coming Fall 2018.  A copy of the current Code can be found on NASW’s website

With the addition of reform to the Code around the use of technology for social workers, NASW has developed a social media policy around informed consent.  NASW recommends that social workers inform clients/patients of social media usage in their practice and its potential risks. NASW also recommends that social media sites you may or may not use in your practice be identified as part of informed consent. More information about this can be found at

Some questions clients should have answered before giving informed consent include, but is not limited to: the name of the kind of therapy used; what is the competence of the therapist; possible risks; how long therapy will last; what if therapy is not working; does the social worker do therapy by phone or internet; cancellation policy; how appointments are scheduled; length of sessions and what if session goes over; how to reach the social worker in an emergency; the kind of records kept; fees; licensure; any limits to confidentiality; participation with insurance.

Let me know if you found this information to be helpful. More detailed information on this subject will be available in my soon to be published book on social work ethics. Please feel free to submit an ethics question/scenario for possible inclusion in a future blog or in my book.

Thank you for reading.






check out the article I wrote titled High-Mileage Questions for Social Workers on


Here’s the introduction to my book, with the title listed above. I hope to have it published by September 2018. It will be available on Amazon.  Please let me know what you think.


This book is a culmination of my experience as a social work instructor of continuing education classes for social workers. I have taught for Eastern Michigan University in their continuing education department for social work for the past five (5) years. In addition, I have presented at many Michigan Chapter – National Association of Social Workers (MI-NASW) conferences over the past fifteen (15) years. I will be teaching my first continuing education class for Michigan State University’s Department of Social Work on October 19, 2018. In addition, I served on the MI – NASW Ethics Committee from 2003 until 2016. All of my workshops/classes have a big ethics component to them utilizing the most recent NASW Code of Ethics.

Currently, I am a in private practice as a social work therapist and ethics consultant. I provide ethics consultations to individual social workers and to clinics. My workshops can be presented at clinics or hospitals as well.

I published many ethics related articles in the MI -NASW newsletter during my time on the ethics committee. In addition, I have published two (2) articles in the past year: When A Child Is Diagnosed with Cancer was published on-line through Social Work Today magazine and High Mileage Questions for Social Workers was published on-line through The New Social Worker magazine.

The topics addressed in this book are the very topics that constitute my workshops. Extensive research has been done on each  topic and the content has been developed accordingly. Part I of this book takes a look at subpoenas. What a subpoena is and when and how a social worker should respond is shared. Also shared is how to respond to a request for information that does not come in the form of a court order. A little hint: neither a subpoena nor a request for information is a court order unless it is signed by a Judge. Part II of this book takes a look at informed consent as a legal and ethical concept. Included in this discussion is what should be included in a good informed consent. Part III of this book looks at medical marijuana. This history of this plant is shared as well as the history of it’s prohibition, regulation, and legalization. Finally, in Part IV, many issues around domestic abuse and proper screening and safety planning are discussed. All of the discussions for each part of the book are deeply tied to the most recent NASW Code of Ethics and how it guides us in addressing these issues. Case examples are included in each part of the book to assist in the exploration of the topics. Relevant sections of the Code that help guide us on how to answer the questions posed are include in the discussion. One important goal for this book is to teach you how to use the Code to support the decision you make on a case that is faced with an ethical dilemma. The topics chosen are the most common areas where ethical

The NASW Code of Ethics was revised in 2017 and this new revision of the Code went into effect January 01, 2018. The Code was modified predominantly around issues of technology and its use in communication with and on behalf of clients. In addition, issues of recording sessions via video or audio means is also addressed. Where appropriate, sections of the Code are used in each Part of the book to help the reader gain a better understand of how the Code impacts social work practice in each of these areas. While the Code does not tell us how to respond exactly, the Code does guide us in a way that reasonable minds will likely come to the same conclusions on these topics. The most controversial topic in this area is that of medical marijuana. This is mostly due to the conflicts between State and Federal laws therefore putting social workers in a bit of an ethical quagmire. This is fully discussed in Part III of this book.

Please take note that the discussions contained in this book do not take the place of legal advice on any of the topics. In addition, the information does not negate the need for an individual ethics consultation on the specific facts of the case you are dealing with. This book is simply meant as an introduction to these topics and a way for you to begin to think about them in a social work ethics framework.

Your feedback on this book is greatly appreciated. In addition, it is greatly appreciated if you would submit ethical dilemmas that you would like to be considered for a future edition of this book. Ethical dilemmas can be submitted to the author at Please feel free to also share any other feedback you might have to make the next edition even better.

Thank you for picking up this book. I hope you feel more empowered in how you handle ethical dilemmas as a result of the words on these pages.



As a social work ethics consultant and post-masters continuing education instructor, one of the issues I see social workers struggle with regularly is requests for information on their clients. Along these same lines, the other issues is struggles with how to respond to a subpoena they received which is usually signed by an attorney.  I now teach a 6 hour continuing education course on this topic and it is very popular.  What follows is brief overview of this course.

Subpoenas are requests for information or requests for someone to appear in court or at a deposition in a court case. While they are legal documents, they  are not typically considered court orders unless they are signed by a Judge. However, a social worker does need to respond to a subpoena. The kinds of cases where subpoenas may be used include: divorce, custody and parenting time; child abuse/neglect; employee discrimination or wrongful termination; disability benefits; personal injury cases; and criminal prosecution cases. Subpoenas can be issued for any setting: school, private practice, hospital, workplace, to name a few.

Typically, a social worker should respond to a subpoena as quickly as possible. It is okay to seek legal counsel (check with your social malpractice insurance carrier, school district attorney, or hospital or agency attorney) and/or an ethics consultation before you respond, but you should do so as soon as you can. Often, a subpoena will arrive with only two days notice before the scheduled court or deposition the social worker is being asked to appear at.  Depending on your setting, you may want the agency attorney to respond (school, hospital, other agency) or, if you are in private practice, you will most likely be doing the responding to the request for information.

The NASW Code of Ethics helps to guide social workers on how to respond. According to the Code, it does not provide a set of rules that describe exactly how social workers should act in all situations.  The Code “simply” gives us an idea of how reasonable minds should handle a particular ethical scenario.

When considering how to respond to a subpoena, social workers must keep in mind such things as Privacy and Confidentiality (1.07), Informed Consent (1.03), Clients Who Lack Decision-Making Capacity (1.14), Competence (4.01), Client Records (3.04), Conflict of Interest (1.06),  Access to Records (1.08), and Billing (1.13). Keeping these ethical guidelines in mind, a social workers response must be worded to releases the least amount of information possible. For example, a social worker should release, only after valid informed consent is given, the dates of service and possibly who attended and a brief synopsis of the treatment plan. More specifically, a social worker could release goals of treatment and progress made. A social worker should only release facts and should not release opinions or specific statements made by the social worker or the client unless these statements are tied to a duty to warn or mandated reporting issue.  A letter from an attorney can be looked at in the same way.

Another thing for social workers to remember is that if the social worker is hired to do therapy with a client, the social worker may NOT do any kind of report and recommendation. This is a trap that social workers seem to fall into regularly.

If there is a subpoena or court order signed by a Judge, the social worker must work to limit the information released to the least amount of information possible to protect the client as long as there is no law mandating the release of the requested information. Keep in mind that each case must be evaluated on a case by case basis utilizing the Code and any relevant state or federal law that might apply in the specific situation.

Anyone interested in learning more can go to my website at  for a listing of upcoming classes. In addition, I am available to teach this course at your place of business.  More details on this topic are available in my soon to be published book on social work ethics.  In addition, you are welcome to submit a case scenario in response to this post. In doing so, you agree to have your scenario to be used in my book (please do NOT use any names) and as a possible follow-up to this blog post. Please feel free to send questions or comments as well.  I hope you have found this brief overview helpful.  Next post: Social Work Ethics Empowerment: What Should Be Contained In a Good Informed Consent Form.

In the beginning, blogging/writing was helpful to my everyday existence. Then, it became a task that was hard to make happen. Since then, my husband has died unexpectedly and I find myself once again having the need to write and express myself. So, I consider this question: is writing only for times when the emotions are intense and need to be vented to anyone who will listen? For some, I know their best writing happens when there is a crisis or some emotional extreme that propels them into putting words to paper. I’m hoping to use this new found writing energy to complete a book proposal I started just over 2 years ago on effective co-parenting through and after divorce regardless of the sexual orientation of the parents. For me, the immediate crisis is over but I am finding this new journey of single parenting teenage boys a time for reflection and writing and hopeful eventual new path for me as a single adult. I look forward to sharing my journey with those who wish to join me.


Trust is essential for a relationship to be successful. We need to trust that in the relationship, secrets shared remain treasured. We need to trust that the person we are loyal to will remain loyal to us. We need to trust that the person we love, loves us unconditionally, and will be there for us no matter what, unless we violate their trust. A relationship can be made and succeed or broken and fail depending on the trust. Trust . . .

I wonder why some people continue to hang on to their anger towards their ex-spouse one, two, three, or even more years from the time the divorce becomes final. What does all that anger and hostility really accomplish? Can a person really every move on with their life if they remain angry?

In previous posts I have talked about the underlying emotions of disappointment, frustration and hurt when a relationship ends. However, it is becoming increasingly clear, that if someone is healthy, these emotions subside over time and a person learns how to get on with their life. Understandably, if the same wounds continue to occur over and over again, especially when their are children involved, it is harder to heal from these emotions and move forward.

Nonetheless, when a person chooses not to look at their role in the relationship breakup and always blames the other person, it is possible to conclude that that person is suffering from some form of a narcissistic personality trait and possibly a full blown disorder. Abusers (regardless of the form of abuse — physical, sexual, emotional, financial, etc.) are narcissistic. Addicts are narcissistic.

How is the other person to interact with such a person? The best way is not to engage with them at all. However, if their are children involved, it is almost impossible to avoid this. One suggestion is to only communicate by e-mail and copy (or blind copy) a trusted individual or professional on the exchange for protection. The negative about e-mail is that there is always the possibility of misinterpretation of what is written. With that in mind, it is always good to ask for clarification about anything that you are unsure about before responding. Another suggestion is to request a Parenting Coordinator or Mediator  to work with both of you once the divorce becomes final. More information about parenting coordination and mediation can be found on my website at .

Please let me know your thoughts on this topic and what your experiences have been.

Same Sex Marriage

So, the Supreme Court has said that same sex marriage should be legal in all 50 States. What does this mean for you and your relationship? Will you marry? Will you stay co-habituating? In Michigan, 350 + marriages were performed on that one Saturday when same sex marriages became legal, then were banned. Those marriages were subsequently upheld, but future marriages were denied until the Supreme Court ruling. From those initial marriages, there have already been at least 2 divorces. What will the divorce rate be for same sex marriages? Will it be the same as for heterosexual marriages? What about the children? Will divorce laws change as a result of the same sex marriage, and should they change?

What are your thoughts?