Ethics in Action for Action-Oriented Psychotherapists

Sunday, October 24, 2021 – 9:15 am – 5:00 pm

Note: Use this workshop to meet your ethics training requirement for licensure renewal. This is a required course for LPTI certification at any level.

Led by: Catherine D. Nugent, LCPC, TEP

Covid Note:  Participants at live, in-person LPTI events must be fully vaccinated and willing to show proof, if requested. Also, training events are currently limited to 12 participants. 

Location: Laurel, Maryland–off Route 198, between I-95 and Route 29.

To Register: Complete the registration form at this link:

Overview:  Psychotherapists* who practice from an integrative perspective often incorporate action methods into their work. Examples of action methods include psychodrama, sensorimotor psychotherapy, somatic experiencing, yoga therapy, and other experiential and body-based approaches.

As action-oriented psychotherapists, we engage with clients in non-traditional ways, stepping out of our chairs and into a less clearly defined zone of collaborative action with clients. In this action space, we find opportunities for powerful healing and recovery. However, we also encounter ethical issues that do not arise—or don’t arise in the same way—in many other, less experiential, modalities.

In action-oriented therapies, we sometimes focus on the body and body movement. We may use touch to support a client or facilitate an intervention. In addition to the use of touch, psychodrama offers a structured way for therapists to make conscious, intentional use of self-disclosure with participants.

This workshop offers a deep dive into these two important ethical issues: the intentional therapeutic use of touch and of self-disclosure. We consider findings from theory and research and use psychodramatic role-play and related methods to explore these topics in depth.

Intended Audience:  This workshop is especially relevant for psychotherapists who use experiential and/or body-based approaches in their clinical practices, and/or for those interested in learning more about psychodrama. *The workshop is also appropriate for coaches, spiritual facilitators, non-clinical psychodramatists, and other helping and healing professionals.

What Participants Will Learn: In addition to exploring conceptual and pragmatic concerns about touch and self-disclosure in therapy, group members will learn three action structures that they can apply to topics other than ethics. Participants can replicate these structures with clients in their own practice setting.

Back by Popular Demand:  Classical Psychodramatic Role-Training. In the afternoon, we will use the psychodramatic action structure of role- training to explore ethical issues offered by participants.

This will be a double-track training session: You will learn the steps in facilitating a role-training with a group, while at the same time, exploring complex ethical issues through psychodramatic role-play. Role-training facilitates self-awareness and more skillful role performance. Participants will learn a step-by-step structure applicable to a great variety of issues and populations.

The Role Wheel: We explore concerns about touch in psychotherapy via The Role Wheel (Warner, c. 1979). With this sociodramatic action structure, group members participate in collective perspective-taking related to a specific situation. Here, we use The Role Wheel to examine an ethical dilemma about touch in psychotherapy, viewing it through the eyes of different persons or organizations that have a stake in the situation.

The Diamond of Opposites: During a demonstration of The Diamond of Opposites (Carlson-Sabelli, Sabelli, Patel & Holm, 1992; Hale & Little, 2002), participants learn a process for resolving ambivalence about different courses of action that could be taken in an ethical dilemma related to therapist self-disclosure. The Diamond of Opposites can be done as a paper-and-pencil activity and/or an exploration in action using psychodramatic role-play.

Intended Outcomes: As a result of the workshop, participants should be able to:

  • Identify key concepts from the professional literature on the intentional use of touch and self-disclosure in psychotherapy;
  • Explore ethical dilemmas using three different action structures—The Role Wheel, The Diamond of Opposites, and Classical Psychodramatic Role Training—to raise awareness of the complexities of ethical decision-making and move toward resolution.
  • Describe the steps in a classical psychodramatic role-training session.
  • Discuss how these action interventions can be used with clients to explore and resolve different types of issues and situations.

Workshop Leader:

Catherine D. Nugent is a licensed clinical professional counselor and Board-certified psychodrama trainer. From 2013-2019, Cathy taught in the graduate mental health counseling program instructor at Johns Hopkins University. She is the current President of the American Board of Examiners in Psychodrama, Sociometry & Group Psychotherapy (ABE).

Cathy’s awareness of potential ethical dilemmas for action-oriented psychotherapists has emerged over her 30+ years’ experience as a psychodramatist and integrative psychotherapist. Additional training and experience in sensorimotor psychotherapy and yoga-as-therapy have further sensitized Cathy to the importance of the highest standards of personal integrity when entrusted with holding a sacred space for clients doing deep therapeutic work.

Cathy’s leadership roles in national organizations—as Ethics Chair of the ABE, and as a member of the American Counseling Association’s Task Force on Counselor Impairment & Wellness—have provided her with opportunities to consider many different ethical issues psychotherapists encounter. Her 20-year tenure with the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) gave her hands-on experience resolving complex diverse ethical dilemmas at the individual, group and organization levels.

Continuing Education: 7.0 hours Category I, Maryland Board of Social Work Examiners (can be used for licensure requirement); National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC – ACEP #6788); American Board of Examiners in Psychodrama, Sociometry & Group Psychotherapy. (See below for full continuing education information.)

Cost: $195-general admission; $175-members of LPTI ongoing training cohort;

A limited number of partial scholarships are available. Please inquire.

For further information: Send an email to or

call 410-746-7251.

Continuing Education Information:

Catherine D. Nugent/Dramatic Transformations is an Approved Provider of Continuing Education, and is authorized by the Board of Social Work Examiners in Maryland to sponsor social work continuing education learning activities and maintains full responsibility for this program. This training qualifies for up to 7.0 hours of Category I continuing education for social workers in Maryland.

Dramatic Transformations/Laurel Psychodrama Training Institute has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider with the National Board for Certified Counselors (AEP # 6788) and certifies that this program meets the criteria for up to 7.0 hours of continuing education for counselors. Programs that do not qualify are clearly identified. Dramatic Transformations/Laurel Psychodrama Training Institute is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs.

Catherine D. Nugent, LCPC, TEP, is a Board-certified psychodramatist and psychodrama trainer. Up to 7.0 hours may be credited toward the Certified Practitioner in Psychodrama, Sociometry and Group Psychotherapy certification, C.P. credential, as approved by the American Board of Examiners in Psychodrama, Sociometry and Group Psychotherapy.