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Opening Up Your Therapy Notes: An Orientation and Pragmatic Guide to Practice

Opening Up Your Therapy Notes: An Orientation and Pragmatic Guide to Practice
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Online Self-Study
1.5 Ethics
Downloadable e-book of course slides, a downloadable certificate of completion, and course video(s).


Opening Up Your Therapy Notes: An Orientation and Pragmatic Guide to Practice

Given the Cures Act's requirements to include patient access to electronically based 'notes', Steve will focus on what has been learned from the experiences of practices who have opened up therapy notes directly to patients and provide some pragmatic ways to approach these systemic changes. Steve will address the understandable concerns which clinicians have about opening up mental health notes directly to patients and provide tips in dealing with many of these situations.

This course covers:

  1. What has been the experience of mental health clinicians who have opened up their psychotherapy to patients?
  2. Are there times when a clinician can "block" a therapy note from a patient?
  3. How do I document my note in a manner whereby it extends the therapy session?

This is a non-interactive self-study course. 

Instruction consists of 1.5 hours of video instruction and a post-test.

Course Availability

From the time of registration, you have six months to access the coursework.

Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives:

  • Describe the experience/research outcomes of implementing OpenNotes within mental health practices.
  • Understand the implications of the Cures Act, especially around ‘information blocking,’ for mental health practice.
  • Describe documentation strategies that may assist greater patient engagement and trust within clinical practice.


STEVE O’NEILL LICSW, BCD, JD,  was the Social Work Manager for Psychiatry, Primary Care, Pain Management, and Infectious Disease as well as the Associate Director of the Ethics Programs at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center where he has worked for 40 years.  He completed a Fellowship in Bioethics at Harvard Medical School, is a Clinical Instructor in the Department of Social Medicine and on the Teaching Faculty within the Center for Bioethics at Harvard Medical School.  Steve is also an Adjunct Professor at Simmons University School of Social Work.  He chairs the National Association of Social Work’s Massachusetts Chapter’s Committee on Ethics and Professional Review, the adjudicatory arm of NASW, and was also a member of the National Ethics Committee of NASW.   He helped with the drafts of the NASW Code of Ethics and was an author of the NASW Professional Standards.  He has extensive teaching experience, numerous committee assignments and is active on HMS’s Clinical Ethics and Organizational Ethics Consortiums as well as HMS’s Ethics Leadership Group.  Steve was involved with the Preventable Harm to Respect and Dignity initiative within health care at BIDMC as well as a member of BIDMC’s Emergency Management Team.  And as a member of the HMS Task Force on Disaster Preparedness, Steve was one of the authors of the Ethical Aspects of Emergency Preparedness which Massachusetts adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic.  He is the author/co-author of a number of articles, chapters, and a book entitled  Legal Issues in Social Work (2004).

Steve is an expert in Behavioral/Mental Health for the OpenNotes Program and started the first-ever program in making behavioral health therapist notes directly available to patients through their personal computers in 2014.   Steve also helped to create an interprofessional training program at HMS led by medical/nursing/pharmacy/nutrition and social work interns in providing direct outpatient primary care to complex care patients.  Steve is especially interested in how transparency can foster greater trust, as well as improved care, with all health care providers, especially including behavioral health.  

While Steve retired from his primary roles at BIDMC, he continues to work in the OpenNotes Program, teaches at both HMS and Simmons, and is a consultant for Massachusetts Medical Benevolent Society.  

Outside of work, Steve enjoys time with his family and friends.  He loves fishing, hiking, animal tracking, birding and following the Red Sox and other professional sports. 

CE Hours

Credit Hours:  This course offers 1.5 continuing education credit hours

Counselors: Telehealth Certification Institute, LLC has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No, 6693.  Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. Telehealth Certification Institute, LLC is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs. 

Telehealth Certification Institute, LLC is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed mental health counselors. #MHC-0048. Approval renewal date: 1/31/2026

Marriage and Family Therapists: Many MFT licensing boards accept our courses or one of the approvals which we have from professional associations.  You can check with your board to determine if this course would be accepted by your licensing board.

Social Workers: Telehealth Certification Institute LLC, #1609, is approved to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Organizations, not individual courses, are approved as ACE providers. State and provincial regulatory boards have the final authority to determine whether an individual course may be accepted for continuing education credit. Telehealth Certification Institute LLC maintains responsibility for this course. ACE provider approval period: 05/02/2021 – 05/02/2024. Social workers completing this course receive 1.5 clinical continuing education credits.

Telehealth Certification Institute, LLC is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #SW-0435. Approval renewal date: 2/28/2026

Psychologists: Telehealth Certification Institute LLC is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Telehealth Certification Institute LLC maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

Telehealth Certification Institute, LLC 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-0128. Effective 8/31/2021 – 8/31/2024

Art Therapists: Telehealth Certification Institute, LLC is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed creative arts therapists #CAT-0093. 7/21/2021 – 7/31/2024

Addiction Professionals: Telehealth Certification Institute is an approved provider of continuing education by NAADAC, The Association for Addiction Professionals, provider #193104, effective 02/09/2022. Full attendance is required; no partial credit will be awarded for partial attendance.

Other Professionals: This course qualifies for 90 minutes of instructional content as required by many national, state and local licensing boards and professional organizations.  Retain your certificate of completion and contact your board or organization for specific filing requirements

How to Complete the Course and Earn Your Certificate

To receive your certificate of completion you must complete the course in its entirety.

To complete an Online Self Study Course, one must register, log in, select the My Courses option from the menu items, click the Course Title, complete all of the modules, complete and pass the post-test(s), and complete the course evaluation.

A grade of at least 80% or more is required to pass the post-test. Retaking the post-test is possible until the participant is able to pass the test.

Psychologists and other professionals seeking CE credit through our approval with the American Psychological Association are asked but not required to complete the course evaluation before obtaining their certificate of completion, however passing a post-test for online self-study courses, and submitting one's attendance for live on-site and live webinars is required.

You can download or print your certificate of completion by logging into your account, navigating to the course by selecting the My Courses option from the menu items, clicking the Course Title, scrolling to the Certificate of Completion section, and clicking on the Certificate of Completion link to either download it or print it.

Participants may request a printed version of their certificate of completion to be delivered by mail. A shipping/handling fee of $6.95 will be charged per request. Shipping internationally may require an additional charge.

Directions for completing a course can be found by clicking here.

Course Policies

Accommodations for Individuals with Disabilities

Click here to view our Accommodations for Individuals with Disabilities.

Cancellation Policy

Refunds are offered within the first 30 days for courses which have not been completed.  There is a 10% service fee for refunds.

Grievance Policy

Click here to view our Grievance Policy.


Click here to communicate with a knowledgeable staff member regarding subject matter guidance, correction, grading, comments, or problem resolution.

Who should attend

This course is intended for clinicians who provide behavioral health services.

Teaching Methods

This is a non-interactive self-study course. Teaching methods for this course include recorded lectures, videos, a post-test, and a course evaluation.

This course was recorded July 30, 2021

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