The client who was asked for a favor turned into a bit of a fiasco.The client asked if they could stop on the way home and have dinner together. Social workers should contact their regulatory board to determine course approval.We use improbable names throughout to enhance interest and ensure that identities of all parties are not discernible.When in doubt, we advise consultation with knowledgeable colleagues and/or professional association ethics committees. Ethics charges based on inappropriate role-blurring account for the majority of ethics complaints and licensing board actions (Bader, 1994; Koocher & Keith-Spiegel, 2016; Montgomery & Cupit, 1999; Neukrug, Milliken, & Walden, 2001; Sonne, 1994). Boundary issues can arise in ways that therapists may not initially predict or even recognize.
Decision-making can be trickier and more challenging, because one is at the mercy of one’s own judgment and potentially unacknowledged biases.
Among the most significant changes in the ethics codes of professional organizations are those related to the drawing of boundaries between therapists and their clients.
Over the last couple of decades we have witnessed a relaxation of rigid restrictions.
Consider these scenarios: With the exception of boundary violations that clearly violate any standard of care, ethics codes cannot possibly give specific guidance when it comes to mandating appropriate ways to socially interact with counseling and psychotherapy clients across all possible situations.
Many boundary crossings can involve no ethical transgressions and even prove beneficial to the client.