CYA for Court

CYA for Court

An interview with Nicol Stolar-Peterson, LCSW, BCD, Expert Witness aka The Court Chick, on how to prepare for court, what to put in your court policy for your informed consent, and how she created an alternative revenue stream.

It’s time to reimagine therapy and what it means to be a therapist. We are human beings who can now present ourselves as whole people, with authenticity, purpose, and connection. Especially now, when therapists must develop a personal brand to market their practices.

To support you as a whole person and a therapist, your hosts, Curt Widhalm and Katie Vernoy talk about how to approach the role of therapist in the modern age.

Interview with Nicol Stolar-Peterson, LCSW

Nicol Stolar-Peterson, LCSW, BCD is an expert witness as it relates to child abuse, sexual abuse, CPS, family violence and child custody. She worked for CPS for over 11.5 years as an investigator, forensic interviewer and adoptions social worker. Nicol is the founder and director of Kids Court & Counseling Center, 501c3, that helps children prepare for court testimony and appearances if they are victims of crimes, witnesses to crimes, in foster care and/or going through a litigious custody battle where testimony occurs. Nicol is appointed as the court’s expert on family law matters as the designated child custody evaluator.

Nicol also enjoys speaking on the concept of “the permission to succeed and the risk of being happy.” Her book is coming out in 2019 and guess what the title is? “The permission to succeed and the risk of being happy.” Nicol also sells Rodan & Fields as an independent consultant and helps other’s build a business of residual income around their families and their lives. This is a complete departure from her “day job” and it brings her joy and inspiration helping other’s build their own business.

You can find Nicol at and

In this episode we talk about:

  • Nicol’s story of how and why she became interested in court
  • How Nicol created Therapist Court Prep
  • Court Policy to put into Informed Consent
  • What needs to be discussed at the beginning of treatment related to court, writing letters, etc.
  • Do NOT ignore your subpoenas
  • Setting fees for court-related activities (can do flat rate)
  • Going to court is not our job
  • Scope of practice, dual relationships related to court-requirements
  • Do not make a child-custody recommendation unless you are appointed by the court
  • The importance of getting clear on what you can do as a therapist, counselor, social worker, psychologist
  • How the therapeutic alliance causes bias in a legal setting
  • Observation versus Opinion – and how you can get in trouble when you add your opinion into custody cases
  • Imagine reading letter on the stand to determine what you should be putting in that letter
  • The threat of a bench warrant when you ignore subpoenas
  • Litigious times when clients weaponize therapists
  • Subpoena for records does not mean a treatment summary
  • When in court, don’t guess – say I don’t know
  • Don’t try to hide treatment information
  • How to set court rates, rates for writing letters
  • The value of preparation when going to court
  • What to wear for court
  • Success stories from court

Resources mentioned:

We’ve pulled together any resources mentioned in this episode and put together some handy-dandy links:


Sherry Shockey-Pope and Therapist Practice in a Box

Evidence Code 730

CAMFT (California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists) Legal Advice

Free Court Letter Cheat Sheet on Therapist Court Prep

Dr. Pamela Harmell

Who we are:

Curt Widhalm is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in private practice in the Los Angeles area. He is a Board Member at Large for the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, a Subject Matter Expert for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, Adjunct Faculty at Pepperdine University, and a loving husband and father. He is 1/2 great person, 1/2 provocateur, and 1/2 geek, in that order. He dabbles in the dark art of making “dad jokes” and usually has a half-empty cup of coffee somewhere nearby. Learn more about Curt at

Katie Vernoy is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, coach, and consultant. As a helping professional for two decades, she’s navigated the ups and downs of our unique line of work. She’s run her own solo therapy practice, designed innovative clinical programs, built and managed large, thriving teams of service providers, and consulted hundreds of helping professionals on how to build meaningful AND sustainable practices. In her spare time, Katie is secretly siphoning off Curt’s youthful energy, so that she can take over the world. Learn more about Katie at

A Quick Note:

Our opinions are our own. We are only speaking for ourselves – except when we speak for each other, or over each other. We’re working on it.

Our guests are also only speaking for themselves and have their own opinions. We aren’t trying to take their voice, and no one speaks for us either. Mostly because they don’t want to, but hey.

Stay in Touch:


Voice Over by DW McCann

Music by Crystal Grooms Mangano

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