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Term: Counseling Liability

16 Feb 2015

Liabilities from the provision of counselling services. Counselling liability is a risk faced by therapists, social workers, psychologists, and other professionals that provide counselling services. Exposure to this type of liability can be mitigated through the purchase of professional liability insurance.

Just as doctors face the risk of claims of medical malpractice by their patients, so to do counsellors face the risk of those who they treat claiming negligence. Counsellors provide specialized mental health services, providing therapy for individuals and families who face trauma, are dealing with grief, or are suffering from other mental difficulties.

Counselling liability is a risk for a number of professionals including family counsellors, marriage counsellors, substance abuse counsellors, psychologists, social workers, speech therapists, and mental health workers. The type of insurance that protects against this risk is called errors and omissions (E & O) insurance, which covers businesses that provide professional services.

Counselling liability can arise in a number of situations. For example, a family therapist suspects that a child is living in a potential abusive household, but fails to report this suspicion to the police or the local authorities. If the child is ultimately injured by his or her parents, the government may file a lawsuit on behalf of the injured child against the family therapist for not reporting the dangerous situation that the child was in.

Therapists may also face claims that do not involve physical injury. For example, a married couple seeks the advice of a marriage counsellor to help them work out their problems and save their marriage. If the couple ultimately decides to get a divorce they may sue the marriage counsellor for not providing them the help that they needed. The claim that they file is for professional negligence.

Counsellors may also purchase general liability insurance to cover claims made for bodily injury or property damage.

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