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Episode 232 | Navigating Subpoenas and Testimony in Mental Health Care with Tracy Masiello

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WITH Tracy Masiello

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  • Episode 232 | Navigating Subpoenas and Testimony in Mental Health Care with Tracy Masiello 00:00

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Have you ever received a subpoena and weren’t quite sure how to handle it?

In this episode, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Tracy Masiello, a group practice owner and certified mediator, about handling subpoenas as a group practice owner. We discussed the importance of clear policies, procedures, and training for clinicians to effectively manage subpoenas. Dr. Masiello also debunked subpoena myths, explained the consequences of ignoring subpoenas, and provided guidance on how to respond to them. Join us to learn more about:

  • The importance of having clear policies, procedures, and training in place for handling subpoenas in a group practice setting.

  • Debunking common myths surrounding subpoenas and clarifying the consequences of ignoring them.

  • Guidance on how to respond to subpoenas effectively and ethically.

  • Understanding the ethical considerations when testifying or sharing client records.

  • The difference between being a fact witness and an expert witness in legal proceedings.

If you’re a group practice owner or clinician, this episode is a must-listen for valuable insights on managing subpoenas. Don’t forget to check out the resources shared by Dr. Masiello for further learning and support.

Thanks for listening! Like what you heard? Give us 5 stars on whatever platform you’re listening from. Need extra support? Join The Exchange, a membership community just for group practice owners on our website www.thegrouppracticeexchange.com/exchange. Talk to you next time!

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Connect with Maureen Werrbach & The Group Practice Exchange:

This episode is sponsored by TherapyNotes. TherapyNotes is an EHR software that helps behavioral health professionals manage their practice with confidence and efficiency. I use TherapyNotes in my own group practice and love its amazing support team, billing features, and scheduling capabilities. It serves us well as a large group practice owner.

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Transcript:

Maureen Werrbach

Maureen Werrbach (00:00:01) – If you’re listening to the Group Practice Exchange podcast, where the business development resource for group practice owners, where we talk candidly about business ownership and leadership. I’m your host, Maureen Werrbach. 

 

This episode is sponsored by Therapy Notes. Therapy notes is my favorite EHR, and it’s one that I’ve been using in my own group practice since 2014. They’ve got everything you need to be successful in your group practice, and they’re constantly making updates and have live support. If you want two free months of therapy notes, go to therapynotes.com/r/thegrouppracticeexchange. 

 

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Hey everyone, welcome to another episode of the Group Practice Exchange podcast. Today I have Doctor Tracy Masiello on with me. She’s a group practice owner just like we are, but she also has some additional experience that I’m super excited to have her on for.

 

Maureen Werrbach (00:01:28) – And she’s going to be talking about navigating subpoenas as a group practice owner when it comes to our employees who have plans, who maybe have them subpoenaed. So thank you for coming on, Tracy.

 

Tracy Masiello (00:01:41) – Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here.

 

Maureen Werrbach (00:01:44) – Yeah. So I know you’re a group practice owner like me. Where’s your practice at?

 

Tracy Masiello (00:01:48) – It’s in Charlotte, North Carolina called Reaching Resolution. Awesome.

 

Maureen Werrbach (00:01:52) – And so for the purpose of this episode, you also have I was reading your bio a ton of experience as a certified mediator and a court appointed parenting coordinator. So you know a lot about subpoenas and testimonies and court related things, right?

 

Tracy Masiello (00:02:10) – Absolutely. I have been serving as an expert witness in court trials for about 25 years. As she said, I’m a mediator for the superior in district courts. I’m also parenting coordinator and family and district courts. And my favorite thing, though, honestly, is just helping to coach and train clinicians as they are trying to figure out how to handle subpoenas and records requests and how to prep for testifying.

 

Tracy Masiello (00:02:32) – So all of this is my favorite wheelhouse. So I’m so happy to be able to talk about this today. Awesome.

 

Maureen Werrbach (00:02:37) – So for this episode, specifically for those listening, we’re going to be talking about as a group practice owner, how we can deal with and support our clinicians who might be subpoenaed by their clients. And so start with something really simple like, I know you have a group practice and you have clinicians. What do you say about ten clinicians? I have.

 

Tracy Masiello (00:02:57) – About ten. Correct me.

 

Maureen Werrbach (00:02:58) – What is your experience with other group practice owners who you help support? What are the like main big questions or concerns that practice owners have when a clinician of theirs gets subpoenaed?

 

Tracy Masiello (00:03:10) – Help, help. What do we do? Right. It is one of, I think, the most anxiety provoking things because we don’t get trained right in our prep for being a therapist. We don’t get trained in how to like, go to court or do any of this, and it can be scary. And I mean, that’s valid because there are actual legal and ethical ramifications for a clinician if you don’t handle things properly, right, or if you do or say something that you shouldn’t.

 

Tracy Masiello (00:03:31) – Right. So it makes sense that it can really generate a lot of anxiety for group practice owners and for their clinicians. So I have like some tips that I typically share with them. And one of the things that I always told group practice owners to start with is having airtight policies and procedures in place. Cannot tell you how many times I have had a group practice or a clinician say to me, well, I just have it in my policies that you can’t subpoena in me and I don’t go to court. And that was great until you get a subpoena, because when you get subpoenaed, the client can still subpoena you even if they sign that and you still have to respond. Yeah. So the I don’t go to court policy is really meaningless when that subpoena arrives on your desk. Yep. So there really are other types of policies that you want to have in place. So one of them is just really making sure that everybody is clear as to who gets notified when a subpoena arrives. I’ve seen cases where an admin gets it, they open it up, they stick it in the clinician’s box, and they don’t mention it.

 

Tracy Masiello (00:04:34) – And the subpoena is to appear in like four days. Right. And so the clinician doesn’t even see it until sometimes the night before the next day. So have a policy in place that really makes it clear. Do you get the subpoena, you know, does a clinical director get it. Like who who gets that right when it comes in, who gets notified. And then you also want to have policies around who’s going to sign for that. So, you know, most of the time when a subpoena is served, it’s going to be brought by a person and hand-delivered. It’s usually somebody like from the sheriff’s department. Sometimes it’s a professional service where somebody comes in that’s just all they do is serve subpoenas. Sometimes it’s certified mail, but you do have to sign and return the card. So you want to have it clear in your policies if the clinician who’s being subpoenaed is not available, who can sign for it, can it be an admin? Do they need to get you? Who doesn’t need to be? So make sure that, again, everybody knows what the process is when that arrives on the practice side.

 

Maureen Werrbach (00:05:31) – So if a paper like it’s coming like can’t be hand-delivered, can you refuse to sign if the right person in your policies isn’t there to sign it.

 

Tracy Masiello (00:05:41) – You can ask them to come back and get so-and-so, or they can call you and ask you, who? Who do you want to sign it? Right, okay, so that you’re aware of it. But yes, in fact, a lot of times they will call even and they will say that they’re coming to serve the subpoena. And that is always the best. If you know when it’s coming, then you can make sure that somebody is there, but have have it clear to everybody what to do so that everyone’s not just looking at each other.

 

Maureen Werrbach (00:06:04) – Right.

 

Tracy Masiello (00:06:05) – You know, if that clinician is not. Available.

 

Maureen Werrbach (00:06:07) – Okay, I love that I’m a person that loves, like very clear policies. And I feel like when it comes to like ethics and law, like as a clinician, it can feel like it depends if this happens and that, then you do that.

 

Maureen Werrbach (00:06:20) – If that happens and you do this and I love this very clear. Like here’s two very simple policies you can put in place that will make the beginning of a testimony process easier, or maybe less anxiety provoking.

 

Tracy Masiello (00:06:33) – Absolutely. Exactly. And you want to make sure too, that everyone knows to give you a copy. As the owner, you need it because you want to check that it was properly served and that it’s valid. Yep. I’ll talk a little bit more about that in just a minute. But you also, in addition to having kind of your practice side of policies, you also want to have those public facing policies for clients. So that would be things like, you know, really clear policies about when you ask for consent to release records. Right. The client need to know what your policies are for records release in response to getting a subpoena. They should also know upfront what are the costs per testify in writing reports. And a little pro tip here if you want to have a proactive way as a group practice owner to minimize those frivolous requests that your clinicians appear and testify have steep fees.

 

Tracy Masiello (00:07:18) – So I charge a minimum $1,000 a day for appearing to testify, even if only there 30 minutes. And then we charge $250 an hour for anything else, even if it’s just like writing a summary for the court or even our prep time or a travel time. So have those, but make sure that those are up front in your intake documents and that all of your clients signed them even once. You don’t expect whatever subpoena you across the board. Just make that a policy so they know what they’re going to pay.

 

Maureen Werrbach (00:07:43) – That makes a lot of sense. We have a policy in my own group practice that’s like that as a way to just not have clients in divorce cases, using us to go against their partner and do things that are just, like you said, frivolous as a way to just be mean to another person and waste time. It really, I feel like, puts us in a position where those that really require our services outside of the therapy room, they’re going to take a little more seriously that when they ask for us to be a part of it.

 

Maureen Werrbach (00:08:14) – So I like that absolutely. On a side of like protecting client confidentiality, what are some of the things that you can do as a good practice owner, maybe documentation wise? But also I’m thinking in terms of training your own staff, because a lot of times that confidentiality issue isn’t going to come from you as the practice owner, because you’re not going to know some of these things happening until they’ve started. How can you support your clinicians in ensuring that they’re navigating any sort of initial communications through the lens of confidentiality? Because I feel like there’s always like that moment of where they might be getting that phone call, and before they can get to you, they might be communicating in some way that isn’t appropriate.

 

Tracy Masiello (00:08:57) – Right? Absolutely. So I always tell, you know, group practice owners to make sure that you’ve trained all of your therapists, even if you have amazing clinicians who’ve had great training elsewhere, make sure that they understand where you stand as a group, practice in or about giving out any information. And this especially happens around subpoenas because, I mean, it makes sense that, you know, clinicians are going to have that knee jerk reaction.

 

Tracy Masiello (00:09:17) – There’s this legal document saying, give us these records or show up. And a lot of clinicians first, you know, responses here have it. You know, just leave me alone. Let me just send it to you so you’ll like, stop asking me. And maybe I don’t have to show up for anything else. And that’s the last thing you want to do.

 

Maureen Werrbach (00:09:32) – Because there’s people that send these that are not real legal like documents, right? Because it has to come from a judge. And like a lawyer, she can’t be just sending it to you and saying, you know, release these records. This is like legally required.

 

Tracy Masiello (00:09:47) – Absolutely, 100%. You are so right about that. I will say, whereas subpoenas going to come from let’s maybe demystify what a subpoena is for some people who maybe haven’t even had one yet. So a subpoena is really just a legal request. It’s going to ask the clinician to do one of three things. Either show up to testify, like come to a hearing or a deposition and give testimony, or it’s going to ask for them to produce records might be the client’s notes or treatment summary, or it’s going to ask them to do both, right.

 

Tracy Masiello (00:10:14) – Show up to testify on the stand and bring your records with you. So those are the three things that you will see in a subpoena. But who can issue a subpoena is pretty limited. It can be a judge or a magistrate or the clerk of the court. It can also be an attorney.

 

Maureen Werrbach (00:10:30) – You see, again.

 

Tracy Masiello (00:10:31) – Yes and no. While we’re on this topic, there is a big myth out there that I see a lot. I do a lot of coaching and training on this, which is this idea that if an attorney signs a subpoena, you can ignore it because it’s not a valid subpoena.

 

Maureen Werrbach (00:10:42) – Yeah, I think my own attorney has said this.

 

Tracy Masiello (00:10:45) – So let’s break that down a little bit. How this works. Okay. Yes. If a judge signs a magistrate circuit court, it’s a court order, right? You’re going to court. And if you ignore it, right, if you don’t respond to it, then you can face sanctions like fines or even going to jail for contempt of court.

 

Tracy Masiello (00:11:02) – And therapists have gone to jail for ignoring subpoenas. So let me just put that out there. So don’t ignore one of those. Now, if it’s an attorney that signed it in some states in the United States, it is considered the same by law as if a judge ordered it. So in those states, it is no different that if a judge had signed it. So if you ignore it, same thing. Supply. But now let’s think about those states where it’s not right, where an attorney subpoena is not the same as a judge’s subpoena. Yep. You still need to respond. And here’s why. Because if you don’t, the attorney can still tell the judge that they issued the subpoena, that you have not responded, and they can ask the judge to hold you in contempt because it’s still a legal request, and you can be held in contempt if the judge chooses to do that. Now, sometimes they don’t go that far, but then what most often will happen is the attorney just says to the judge, hey, I gave this condition a subpoena.

 

Tracy Masiello (00:11:58) – They have it responded. Can you reissue it as a court order? Yeah, and the judge will, but now they have to reschedule that hearing or whatever they’re needing that information for. So you as the clinician just look unprofessional, right. Because you’re delaying it. You’re wasting everybody’s time. And the end result for you is going to be the same. So always just respond. And respond does not mean that you comply. There is a difference, right? It doesn’t mean that you start handing everything that they want or you show up to testify, but you do give a response to that subpoena.

 

Maureen Werrbach (00:12:27) – That makes a lot of sense. What are appropriate responses to an attorney where maybe in a state they would have to go to a judge to actually have it be legal, but like, what would be the appropriate types of responses if it’s not? Here you go. Like give me more info or please get a judge to send this to me. Or like what kind of what would a response be?

 

Tracy Masiello (00:12:50) – Right.

 

Tracy Masiello (00:12:50) – So if you’re subpoenaed you want to respond. There’s actually different things that you can do. One of the things I still practice owners to do is always, always send the the information to your liability insurance, okay. Because you pay them a premium to basically assign you an attorney. He’s going to walk through this with you in your area. Okay. So first things first. Always make sure you do that. Typically it’s not going to cost you anything else. It’s kind of like getting a free attorney. You’ve already paid the liability insurer. But they’re going to ask you that attorney’s typically going to ask you what do you want to do, right? Or what is the clinician want to do. So some of your options, the first one is to quash it, which means to vacate it or to make it go away. So the attorney can file a motion. Requesting to quash the subpoena is usually on the grounds of, you know, therapist client privilege or it wasn’t served properly or whatever. And it can then be basically eliminated, right? It’s gone.

 

Tracy Masiello (00:13:38) – You don’t have to do anything. So that’s one option. Sometimes, though, even though our gut instinct is therapists might be the sake wash it. I don’t want to show up. Sometimes we might have information that really can be helpful to our client and to what they’re trying to do. And so in those cases, you might not want to quash it, but you don’t want to show up and be asked everything and worry about, you know, overstepping, you know, violating your client’s confidentiality or losing their trust in you. So what you can then do is ask to limit the scope of the testimony. Right? So to leave it to just x, Y or z information like do they show up, how many sessions, some pretty objective information that doesn’t require you to reveal too much, but can be useful to that hearing or to that client?

 

Maureen Werrbach (00:14:20) – We’ve done this.

 

Tracy Masiello (00:14:21) – Yeah. So that’s one thing that you can do. One of the things I often recommend doing, and I say often because sometimes in criminal cases and things, you might not be able to do this, but when you can, it’s really helpful to reach out to the attorney who issued the subpoena, now have a release of information from your client to talk to them.

 

Tracy Masiello (00:14:39) – You can only talk about that client or whoever has signed the release, but you’re not really calling to chat about the client. You’re calling to ask the attorney what is their endgame, what is the goal, and asking you to come. What is it that they’re trying to get by your testimony or by those records? When you know that you can oftentimes talk with the attorney, then about reissuing that subpoena and making it more limited in scope, or you can have the attorneys show up to court or file a motion if there’s time ahead of court to limit the testimony to just that information. And many times they will do that, right. They will go ahead, because they do recognize the relationship that you have with the client and the importance of confidentiality. So many times they will agree to that. Now, if they don’t agree, right, or they you don’t trust them to to limit it, then that’s when I make sure that you do have it as a court order. So, you know, filing something with with emotion with the judge or something and or ensuring that they do reissue it in written form as a new subpoena, so that it’s clear that you’re only going to be asked about that scope.

 

Maureen Werrbach (00:15:37) – That’s really good feedback.

 

Tracy Masiello (00:15:39) – And then another thing that you can do in these types of cases is you can also offer to do what’s called a written summary. And I have found countless times that they will take a written summary over me testifying or giving records.

 

Maureen Werrbach (00:15:51) – I think that’s what we’ve gotten the most amount of is them being okay with a written summary. And then that is enough on our end. And we’ve probably the most amount of success in just having to do that.

 

Tracy Masiello (00:16:03) – Right. Absolutely. So you know, we. Talk to the attorney and you find out what they want, then you can say yes, I’ll write a summary around that that includes that information. And then again you get to limit the inference, right. So those are some things that you can do to really narrow the scope. If you feel like you can be helpful, you know, or if you can’t get a quash sometimes to just deny it, deny the motion to quash. But they will limit it. So that’s another option.

 

Tracy Masiello (00:16:27) – Now, if you’re I’m talking here about valid subpoenas, write subpoenas that are signed by the appropriate people who have authority to do that, you know, in your jurisdiction, if you get a record request from an attorney, that’s not a subpoena. Sometimes they just want information for fact finding. For a case, you need a release of information from the clients to even speak to them or acknowledge that they have that or that that person is a client. You can’t just give information or assume because it’s an attorney or somebody who sounds like they have authority, that you can give out information. Okay? So always make sure we’re talking about a valid subpoena. And when I say valid, I do mean one that has all of the components that it should have. So for example, in many states like here in North Carolina, there are instructions to the person receiving a subpoena. It’s on the back side of the main document, the main page. I’ve had clients who try to do a do a DUI version of issuing a subpoena, and they print out that the first page, they don’t copy that backside.

 

Tracy Masiello (00:17:26) – They go down to the courthouse, a judge signs it because it’s not up to the judge to guide them about the proper subpoena. The judge will sign it, and they will come and show up and hand it to me and say, you’re now subpoenaed to come to this hearing and give testimony. The reality is that, no, I’m not subpoenaed because they did not give me a valid subpoena. So because it’s missing those instructions, it’s invalid and it doesn’t matter. And I can ignore that one.

 

Maureen Werrbach (00:17:51) – That seems so scary for a practice owner who doesn’t maybe have the experience you have. Knowing this, you assume that if a judge signs it, that it means that they’ve insured that it’s valid.

 

Tracy Masiello (00:18:04) – They’re correct. Wow. And I do offer a checklist for anybody that’s interested that they can ask for it. I’ll be happy to send it to them, which it’s like, what do you look for when you get a subpoena? Like, how do you know if it’s valid? So that is an important thing.

 

Tracy Masiello (00:18:16) – And also if it’s properly served. Right. And this is where training and really understanding these things is helpful to you as a group practitioner or as a clinician. It has to be properly served. So in that example I just gave where the client shows up, enhance the subpoena to the clinician, which I’ve seen happen just countless times. That is also not proper service, because in every jurisdiction that I am aware of in the entire United States, I have yet to see one where this does not apply. Somebody who is a party to a case cannot serve a subpoena. So if they’re a party to that hearing, they cannot be the ones to give you the subpoena. If they do, you’ve not been served. So you can ignore that, right? It has to be an independent party over 18. So they also can’t send their child to give it to you because I had seen that happen to. So knowing these things is a great practice. Owner is going to be really important to making sure that you keep yourself and your clinicians out of legal trouble.

 

Maureen Werrbach (00:19:10) – Yeah. On that note, and you did mention a little bit around ethical considerations, but like, what have you seen being ethical issues that have arose in group practices where a clinician is testifying or sharing client records, obviously breaking confidentiality and not having the right Rois and things like that. Are there other things that you’ve noticed from an ethical standpoint?

 

Tracy Masiello (00:19:36) – I have, especially with testifying. I see this in records releases too, but I also see this more often and testify, which is that the clinician tries to be the advocate for their client in court. So let’s say that they’re on the stand and they have a client who they have seen will say 20 sessions. And for the first 18 sessions, that client was always on time or early to session. But for the last two sessions, that client was late because there’s construction, let’s say outside of the office on the stand, the attorney asked that clinician, isn’t it true that your client has been laid for their appointment with you the last two times in a row? Now, the clinician might not like that.

 

Tracy Masiello (00:20:17) – The implication that the attorney is making and they want to protect their client. So there is that desire, that tendency to want to say yes, but they were on time for the other team times that I saw them. Well, you’ve now breached confidentiality because you have testified beyond the scope of what you were asked. You were not asked. How many times have they come on time? You can only answer the question you’re asked. Do not give any other information. If it can be yes or no, answer yes or no. Resist that temptation to want to explain right or to want to help your client, because that will get you in trouble. Because that’s not what you’ve been asked for. The other couple of things that I see happening in testimony very frequently is that the attorney will broaden the scope of questions beyond what’s in the subpoena. Beyond the exact topic you’re asked to speak about, they will start asking those questions. So ask the clinician, right or one of your clinicians when you’re training them as the practice owner, you want to be sure that it is understood that the clinicians job then is to basically turn to the judge and say, I object to testify on the basis this is outside of the scope of the subpoena, right.

 

Tracy Masiello (00:21:29) – You need to let them know that you are asserting privilege and not answer the question. Now, a judge might say, I want, you know, to answer the question, order you to do so, which is fine, because now it’s on the record. There’s usually a stenographer who’s, you know, taking all the notes. So you have it on the record that you can court order to answer the question, but even then give the most minimum amount that you possibly could get away with. Right? Don’t elaborate. Don’t expand or give examples. Don’t be that specific. Just give what you have to give.

 

Maureen Werrbach (00:21:57) – I can see that being a hard one.

 

Tracy Masiello (00:21:58) – Yeah. Another thing I see too, and this this I’ve seen clinicians get sucked into a lot, is the difference between being what’s called a fact witness and being an expert witness. If you’re a clinician in your testifying about a client, you are there as the fact witness, which means just to give the facts of what you have directly seen or observed with that client.

 

Tracy Masiello (00:22:19) – Right. You have direct knowledge about. So whatever the client did in front of you said in front of you that you can testify about if you’re an expert witness, you can give opinions, you can use your expertise when you’re testifying. You cannot do those things if you’re in fact witness. And again, if you’ve been subpoenaed for a client, you’re a fact witness, okay? And you don’t want to have a dual role. You can’t do both. So attorneys will often do things like they might say, is it true that somebody who has symptoms of PTSD, you know, is prone to anger outbursts? Well, you might be an expert on PTSD. You might know the answer to that question 100%. You cannot give it if you are there to fact witness, because that is not a question directly about your client. Now, if the attorney asks, have you seen your client have an anger outburst, you can answer that yes or no, right? That’s directly about what you’ve observed with your client, but you can’t answer anything else.

 

Tracy Masiello (00:23:12) – And I see attorneys do that a lot. And they put the therapist in that dual role, which is problematic. So really be on guard about that. That’s why it’s important to prep your testimony before that you have a timeline, know exactly what you’re going to say. So you know, so that you’re prepared not to go outside of that scope. One of the most common ones I see in custody battles, a recruit practice owner runs into this. Are those clients where they try to bring the therapist in to testify, you know, to lobby for one parent or to denigrate, you know, the other parent. There are some version of that. And the attorneys will so commonly ask what that clinician thinks about whether or not the child should have parenting time with the parents, or if the parents are good parents based on what they’ve observed or what they’ve heard in therapy. You cannot answer that question ever, ever, ever. I cannot tell you how many collisions I have seen be disciplined by their board or lose their licenses for answering that question.

 

Maureen Werrbach (00:24:08) – Because that puts you into the expert position. Is that why it’s that?

 

Tracy Masiello (00:24:12) – And because you don’t have the information you need? The only way you know, if a child should spend a time with a parent is if you’ve done, apparently, evaluation or a forensic evaluation, which means you have done psychological assessments and parenting assessments on the parents you have interviewed, all the collaterals like the teachers and the neighbors and the other relatives. You’ve seen the child outside of session with those parents, because when you just see a child, you know, for that hour or whatever once a week, you know, you only have the subjective information they’re telling you or what parents are telling you. You don’t really know what that looks like from an objective third party perspective outside of session. So you can’t make decisions about whether or not a child should spend time with a parent or not, or how much time when you don’t have the correct information.

 

Maureen Werrbach (00:24:58) – That makes a lot of sense.

 

Tracy Masiello (00:24:59) – Yeah, and if you’ve been hired as a parenting evaluator, you can’t be the clinician because you can’t do a dual role.

 

Tracy Masiello (00:25:03) – Right? So never answer that. I can’t tell you how many times I see attorneys try that. Don’t answer it. Just so I.

 

Maureen Werrbach (00:25:09) – Can imagine that that’s a question a clinician would assume is okay to answer. I have one last question for you, because I know we’re rounding out the time. What should a practice owner do? Or do you have any suggestions? If a clinician is no longer employed and a subpoena comes in or records request? What feedback? Because I know I’ve had that experience, but I also know other practice owners have had that experience, especially if you’re larger and people come and go, right.

 

Tracy Masiello (00:25:37) – So if that happens so you don’t have the clinician anymore, well, if the subpoena is really going to be if it’s testimony, it’s going to need to be by the clinician because other people in your practice don’t know the client, they don’t know anything. Sometimes if it’s a records request, it’s the same thing is going to follow. You’re going to try to get that release of information from the client.

 

Tracy Masiello (00:25:53) – One thing I will say, though, that is important that clinicians do is a great practice owner that you monitor. This happens is that when there’s a subpoena that they do have that conversation with the client, let them know they’ve been subpoenaed. Talk over the pros and cons of releasing that information or doing that testimony and try to get their release. So you want to do the same thing. You want to reach out to that client, let them know they’ve had a subpoena, see if they’re okay with that information being released, you know, trying to find out what’s going on. But you’re only limited to what records you actually have. So, you know, the same things would apply. And I will say, if you get a client for release of information, for records or for testimony, don’t use the standard one that most practices have where it’s like good for a year, change it and make it only valid for that day of testimony or hearing that’s on the subpoena or the day you’re supposed to give records on the subpoena.

 

Tracy Masiello (00:26:42) – Because if they sign a release that’s valid for a year, you’ve now set a precedent because you’ve released information or you testified as ordered on the subpoena. They can come back anytime in that year and ask you for more records or for more testimony. So make sure that you tailor it to that specific subpoena.

 

Maureen Werrbach (00:27:00) – That’s really good advice. I appreciate all of the advice that you gave. It’s such good feedback if you can. I know you mentioned before recording started that you have some resources for clinicians and practice owners when it comes to this. Where can they get more information and what kind of things do you do to support.

 

Tracy Masiello (00:27:17) – Absolutely. So they can go to Resolution academy.com. And Resolution Academy is just the training arm of my practice, where we do all of the content education. We are an approved provider of in BC, the National Board of Certified Counselors, and there you can sign up for some coaching. You can sign up for a course. I currently have a course. That’s everything you need to know about subpoenas and testifying and what to do.

 

Tracy Masiello (00:27:40) – And it even includes we can go policies and timelines for preparing your testimony. It’s everything that you need to know, and it gets a big four hours of community education credit. There’s also some freebies there. I have a checklist. It’s called the what do I do now? Checklist for receiving a subpoena that’s out there, which walks you through exactly what to do. And that subpoena arrives, as well as some checklists for how to tell if a subpoena is valid and some other information. So just go to Resolution Academy. Com and click on the link for the Professional Development Official Academy. And you can find the resources there. The course is actually called May it Please the court. And it’s about clinician subpoena and testimony.

 

Maureen Werrbach (00:28:20) – I love that. I appreciate you so much for taking the time today to share this information, and I’ll make sure to put those links also in the show notes.

 

Tracy Masiello (00:28:28) – Absolutely. It’s been my pleasure. Thank you so much for having me and letting me talk about this.

 

Maureen Werrbach (00:28:34) – Thanks for listening. Give us five stars on whatever podcast streaming service you use and I’ll see you next week.

 

Thanks For Listening

Thanks for listening to the group practice exchange podcast. Like what you heard? Give us five stars on whatever platform you’re listening from. Need extra suppor? Join The Exchange, a membership community just for group practice owners with monthly office hours, live webinars, and a library of trainings ready for you to dive into visit www dot members dot the group practice exchange dot com forward slash exchange. See you next week.

Resources

Here are the resources and guides we recommend based on this episode

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therapy notes

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Meet your host

Maureen

Maureen Werrbach is a psychotherapist, group practice owner and group practice coach. Learn more about her coaching services here:

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The podcast is structured so that you get practice building tips in small doses, where an episode can be listened to (and a group practice building lesson can be learned) in a single car ride.

Episodes are structured into categories: coaching sessions where I coach a group practice owner on a specific topic, tips of the day by yours truly, real talk where you get to be a fly on the wall while an established group practice owner and I talk about the highs and lows of ownership, and trainings done by experts in the field.

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