Picture of Dr. Robert Woody

Robert H. Woody
PhD, ScD, JD

Dr. Bob Woody presents training seminars to mental health professionals (note the list of previous seminar sponsors provided at the end of this document). He will conduct seminars on the following three topics:

  1. Protecting the Rights of Therapists With Difficult and Threatening Clients: Practical & Legal Strategies

  2. Avoiding Ethical, Licensing, & Malpractice Complaints: Legal & Ethical Considerations

  3. Maintaining a Career Free From Psychological Errors

Each seminar is three (3) hours in duration. The presentation is didactic, but active participation by attendees is encouraged.

SEMINAR # 1:  Protecting the Rights of Therapists With Difficult and Threatening Clients: Practical & Legal Strategies

The decrease in publicly funded mental health programs requires that today’s practitioners deal with an escalation of defensiveness and threats from clients. Often without a reasonable basis, clients not claim dissatisfaction with the quality of service and demand more accommodation from the practitioner.

Contemporary conditions indicate that practitioners should be gravely concerned about any hint of threats or violence directed at a practitioner. When a practitioner fails to deal effectively with a client’s illogical expectations, conduct, or threats of any kind (especially of violence) or legal action, a negative impact on the professional’s career is likely. Prompt action that is strategically wise and legal is necessary.

OBJECTIVES: This seminar has the following learning objectives:

  • Knowledge of and an ability to integrate ethics and law in professional services;

  • Skills for psycholegal analyses and intervention planning;

  • Techniques for improving communications and relationships with law enforcement and social agency personnel, attorneys, and judges; and

  • Understanding ethical and legal considerations for promotion of quality care for the benefit of clients and society, as well as protection for clients and their family members and the practitioner.

OVERVIEW OF THE CONTENTS: This seminar has a unique thrust:

The practitioner is instructed on how to therapeutically handle difficult and threatening clients, while always maintaining personal safety and legal rights.

The practitioner will learn to maintain control on interventions and services for quality care for the client and risk management for the professional.

The seminar will cover issues in clinical management of patients at risk for threats and violence.

Participants will learn: to identify high risk clients; methods for assessing potentially threatening or violent behaviors and characteristics; steps toward self assessment for managing and intervening with potentially threatening or violent individuals; and alternate treatment and disposition strategies for difficult and threatening clients.

This seminar provides practitioners with an academic understanding of the mental and character disorders that create resistance and opposition to therapeutic efforts. Risk assessment and psychological profiling will be explained, and applied to several clinical types of clients, including perpetrators of sexual offenses, family abuse and violence, murders, and school-based violence and shootings. Emphasis is placed on:

The sociocultural correlates with and causes of hostility and violence;

Characteristics of abusive, suicidal, assaulting, and homicidal perpetrators;

The nature of family/domestic violence (spouse and sibling abuse), especially child neglect and physical/sexual abuse;

Crime and violence perpetrated by children and youth;

Risk assessment (interviewing and testing options, detecting deception); and

Intervention strategies for individuals, groups, and families.

As relevant to problematic and potentially violent clients, the APA ethics code and position statements, as well as exemplary statutory law and administrative code rules, will be reviewed for case management suggestions. Practitioners will receive guidance for working effectively with schools, families, law enforcement, and other community agencies.

The contents of this seminar are appropriate for mental health professionals working in private practice or in any employment context.

SEMINAR #2: Avoiding Ethical, Licensing, & Malpractice Complaints: Legal & Ethical Considerations

In this litigious era, all mental health professionals, regardless of employment or practice setting, face an elevated risk of ethical, licensing (regulatory), and malpractice complaints. This seminar is dedicated to promoting: quality care for services users (i.e., clients and patients); and safeguards from complaints and appropriate business practices for mental health professionals. The substance is both academic and practical, with emphasis on astute problem solving in the real world of mental health practice.

OBJECTIVES: This seminar is based on the following educational objectives, intended to provide the mental health practitioner with legal information and the ability to:

  • Understand legislative and statutory regulation and control of mental health practices;

  • Recognize the relationship between ethics and law;

  • Gain awareness of the personal legal risk (vicarious liability) created by associates and trainees;

  • Establish a standard of care for mental health services;

  • Handle directives from managed care organizations; and

  • Deal effectively with attorneys and the courts.

OVERVIEW OF THE CONTENTS: This seminar will cover numerous topics that have relevance to modern mental health practice, such as safe record systems (including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), confidentiality (e.g., releasing records), proper advocacy, impropriety (e.g., inappropriate multiple relationships), litigious clients (e.g., who is apt to file a complaint), dangerous clients (e.g., domestic abuse and suicide), etc. The primary focus will be developing skills for analyzing cases, clinical and case management practices, policies, and personal attitudes for legal implications. The seminar will be practical, and contain examples from which guidelines for day-to-day decision-making and practice can be deduced. Special materials will be distributed.


SEMINAR #3: Maintaining a Career Free From Psychological Errors

This seminar has substance intended to reduce and prevent errors in judgment about what should or should not be done when providing psychological or other mental health services. Special attention will be given to the types of psychological errors that may be apt to happen at different stages of a professional career (e.g., entry level versus “old pro”).

OBJECTIVES: This seminar is intended for early-, middle-, and late-career psychologists and other mental health practitioners. The objectives include:

  • Create an understanding of the historical and behavioral science bases for clinical judgments.

  • Derived from social psychology research, offer information that equips the practitioner to identify and control potential sources of bias.

  • Establish the importance of maintaining objectivity, with consideration given to clinical versus actuarial/statistical information.

  • Clarify the importance of psychological assessment and treatment planning to avoid clinical errors.

  • Set forth guidelines for identifying and controlling psychological errors.

  • Recognize the particular vulnerabilities (or error proneness) that are unique to the early, middle, and late stages of a professional career.

OVERVIEW OF THE CONTENT: In this seminar, the term “psychological error” refers to analyses, assessments, decisions, and actions taken by a psychologist or other mental health professional that result in less than acceptable activities with a service user (also known as a client or patient). There is a focus on fulfilling the legal requirements and professional and ethical standards.

Applying a historical and behavioral science framework, the information will cover the study of root-cause analysis, error reduction and prevention, and quality care for the service user. It is considered axiomatic that the psychologist’s assessment of the factors that apply to a given service user is subject to the efficacy of the psychologist’s conscious recognition, inductive and deductive reasoning, and transformation into applied techniques.

Based on social psychology research, various sources of potential bias (and prejudice?) will be identified, defined, and traced to the personal and professional characteristics of the psychologist. Suggestions will be made to control for bias.

For avoiding psychological errors, great importance will be placed on using appropriate psychological assessment strategies, along with carefully crafted treatment and intervention plans. It is asserted that modern psychology gives strong endorsement to the actuarial/statistical approach and to providing empirically based mental health services. An approach to diagnosis and treatment for evidence-based practice will be explained. Special reference will be made to the definition contained in the position paper on the subject from the American Psychological Association (2005), the Presidential Task Force on Evidence-Based Practice: “Evidence-based practice in psychology (EBPP) is the integration of the best available research and clinical expertise within the context of patient characteristics, culture, values, and preferences” (p. 4). Given that avoiding psychological errors is best accomplished by maximizing objectivity when making professional judgments, reliance on the EBPP approach will be considered the cornerstone for contemporary practice.

The following are some of the organizations that have sponsored seminars by Robert Henley Woody:

  • Arkansas Psychological Association

  • American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy

  • American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists

  • American Association of State Social Work Boards

  • American Society of Clinical Hypnosis

  • Association of Psychologists of Puerto Rico

  • Ball State University

  • Calusa Chapter of the Florida Psychological Association

  • Center for Psychological Services of Fort Lauderdale

  • Central Chapter of the Florida Psychological Association

  • Charter Hospital of Tampa Bay

  • Florida Association of School Psychologists

  • Florida Clinical Seminars

  • Florida Psychological Association

  • Florida State University

  • Grand Rapids (MI) Area Medical Education Consortium

  • Human Development Center of Pasco (FL)

  • Kent State University

  • Kentucky Division, American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy

  • Louisiana and Mississippi (Combined) Psychological Associations

  • Menninger Clinic

  • Michigan Department of Mental Health

  • Michigan State University, College of Education

  • Michigan State University, College of Human Medicine

  • Minnesota Chapter, National Association of Social Workers

  • National Association of School Psychologists

  • Nebraska Chapter, National Association of Social Workers

  • Nebraska Medical Records Association

  • Nebraska Psychological Association

  • Nebraska Western College

  • Nevada Association for Marriage and Family Therapy

  • Ohio Association of School Psychologists

  • Ohio Council of Community Mental Health Agencies

  • Ohio University

  • Oregon Psychological Association

  • Palm Chapter of the Florida Psychological Association

  • Pittsburgh Child Guidance Cllinic

  • Provident Counseling of St. Louis

  • Sarasota Memorial Hospital

  • Society for Clinical Psychology

  • Society for Personality Assessment

  • Southwest Florida Association of School Psychologists

  • State University of New York at Buffalo

  • Tampa Bay Association for Marriage and Family Therapy

  • University of Kansas

  • University of London, Institute of Psychiatry ( England)

  • University of Louisville

  • University of Maryland

  • University of Reading ( England)

  • University of South Florida

  • University of Wisconsin-Madison

  • University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

  • Washington School of Psychiatry

  • Wayne State University

  • Western Michigan University

  • Winter Haven Hospital (FL)