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Ethics and Professional Wills

Catherine Spayd, PhD

CE Credit: 1 Hour

Target Audience: Psychology CE

Learning Level: Introductory

Course Type: Online

Course Abstract

Ethics and Professional Wills is a 1-hour online continuing education (CE) course that guides psychologists through the process of developing a professional will.

This course provides practical information and resources on how to meet the APA Ethics Code standards regarding pre-planning for the eventual expected or unexpected closure of your professional practice, while being sensitive to understandable possible anxiety and/or resistance surrounding this topic. Business strategies, including sample forms ready to be personalized for your use, are offered.

Clinical considerations are addressed in discussions of how to best meet patients’ needs during the termination of your work with them and their possible transfers to new clinicians, possible countertransference responses you may experience during expected closings and preparing for unexpected closings, and how to balance patients’ and your own needs during planned temporary or permanent business closings such as a maternity leave or retirement. Issues in addressing possible incapacitation of the psychologist are reviewed.

Finally, pre-planning for possible unexpected practice closings, as would occur after the sudden incapacitation or death of a psychologist, are discussed in detail, including how to develop a professional will, the designation of a professional executor, and arranging for confidential storage and disposition of patient records, following ethical and regulatory guidelines. A sample and fill-in-the-blank professional will are provided, facilitating your completion of a basic professional will by the end of the course.

Course #11-33 | 2020 | 23 pages | 10 posttest questions

Learning Objectives

1. Paraphrase APA Ethics Code standard 3.12 and state how to meet this ethical obligation
2. List three sound ethical and state-specific practices for the storage and disposition of clinical records
3. Identify one or more professional executors to manage your professional will
4. Complete the first draft of a personalized professional will

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Professional Development Resources maintains responsibility for this program and its content. Professional Development Resources is also approved by the Florida Board of Psychology and the Office of School Psychology and is CE Broker compliant (#50-1635 - all courses are reported within two business days of completion). Professional Development Resources, Inc. is recognized by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Psychology as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed psychologists (#PSY-0145).


This online course provides instant access to the course materials (PDF download) and CE test. The course is text-based (reading) and the CE test is open-book (you can print the test to mark your answers on it while reading the course document).

Successful completion of this course involves passing an online test (80% required, 3 chances to take) and we ask that you also complete a brief course evaluation. Click here to learn more.

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About the Author(s)

Catherine S. Spayd, PhD, is a clinical psychologist in independent, private practice in Duncansville, PA. Dr. Spayd received her Master's and PhD degrees in Clinical Psychology from Penn State University. She completed a pre-doctoral internship in clinical psychology at Friends Hospital in Philadelphia, PA, and a post-doctoral fellowship in geropsychology at Philadelphia Geriatric Center. Dr. Spayd has been a licensed psychologist in Pennsylvania since 1991. Before developing a full-time private practice in 2000, she worked for 2 years as a Rehabilitation Psychologist at Mercy Regional Health System, in Altoona, PA. She then created, developed and was Clinical Director for 6 years at PathWays, Bon Secours-Holy Family Hospital's inpatient and partial hospitalization geropsychiatric programs. Dr. Spayd was appointed as a member of the Pennsylvania State Board of Psychology in October of 2014.

Financial: Dr. Spayd receives author compensation from Professional Development Resources.
Nonfinancial: No relevant nonfinancial relationship exists. 

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