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Ethics in an Age of Informality: Protecting Yourself When Boundaries Blur

We therapists may like to think that as good-hearted, upright, and caring people, we don’t really need formal codes of ethics. However, as the seductive informality of our times has transformed even our most basic ideas of when our “office” hours end and where therapy takes place, the standards of care for our profession have become increasingly fuzzy. This webcast series will provide you with updated guidelines for how to stay within the ethical straight and narrow in a world where personal and social boundaries have become so blurry that it’s possible to transgress them without even realizing it.

Join Lisa Ferentz, Mitchell Handelsman, Mary Jo Barrett, Frederic Reamer, DeeAnna Nagel, and Kenneth Hardy.

In this lively, down-to-earth exploration of the ethical challenges and ambiguities of 21st century clinical practice, you’ll learn about:
  • How to navigate through the new ethical issues digital communications have introduced into our field.
  • A contemporary perspective on the dos and don’ts of therapist self-disclosure, dual relationships, client gift giving, and participating in ceremonies and social occasions with clients outside the office.
  • Sound principles for self-care, clinical supervision, collegial support, and documentation procedures that provide safeguards against ethical problems down the road.
  • The latest developments in the ethical and legal requirements that you need to understand in order to practice safely and effectively.

Learn How To Protect Yourself
When Boundaries Blur

Session 1 - December 3

Countertransference: Probing the Heart of Our Ethical Dilemmas

Lisa Ferentz

Lisa Ferentz, L.C.S.W.

Using clips from the HBO series In Treatment, examine the personal issues that can lead therapists to violate boundaries in the therapy relationship, such as:

  • The distinctions between therapy and friendship or other reciprocal relationships.
  • The different therapy approaches that make us vulnerable to different kinds of boundary violations, especially when goals are unclear.
  • The issues in seeing clients in your home, including the impact of family pictures and personal objects.
  • The dangers of seeing clients when you’re emotionally stressed, inappropriate self-disclosure, and the “Five Second Rule.”
  • Responding to seductive client communication.

Session 2 - December 5

Beyond Good Intentions: Positive Ethics with Difficult Clients

Mitchell Handelsman

Mitchell Handelsman, Ph.D.

Explore the principles of ethical excellence and bringing the highest standards to your practice by:

  • Defining positive ethics and the strategies of ethical acculturation in the development of a clinician.
  • Understanding BANJO as an acronym for foundational ethical criteria—beneficence, autonomy, non-malfeasance, and justice.
  • Learning the dangers of making ethical exceptions “just this once.”
  • Facing the ethical challenge of giving your best in working with difficult clients.
  • Taking responsibility for making mistakes and understanding the ethics of apologizing to clients.

Session 3 - December 10

The Ethically Attuned Therapist

Mary Jo Barrett

Mary Jo Barrett, M.S.W.

Get practical guidance on how to establish boundaries from the first session by understanding:

  • Therapist transparency and the importance of the first session.
  • How to negotiate dual relationships.
  • The rules of participating in client celebrations and ritual occasions.
  • Making use of consultation groups.
  • Ethical vulnerability and therapist self-care.

Session 4 - December 12

The Ambiguities of Ethical Practice: Defining Our Clinical Role and Its Limits

Frederic Reamer

Frederic Reamer, Ph.D.

Examine the ethical questions resulting from today’s cultural and technological changes, including:

  • Social media and the dangers of inappropriate therapist self-disclosure.
  • The importance of documenting clinical decisions.
  • Understanding the legal concepts of “cui bono,” fiduciary duty, breach of duty, violation of standard of care, and proximate cause.
  • Distinguishing ethical and legal issues in clinical practice.

Session 5 - December 17

The Ethics of Online Therapy

DeeAnna Nagel

DeeAnna Nagel, L.P.C.

Whether you’re a digital native or a new adopter, get an overview of the ethical questions for therapists in the Digital Age, such as:

  • Defining online therapy—is it for everyone?
  • Understanding the Disinhibition Effect and the nature of cyber culture.
  • Screening clients for online therapy.
  • Preparing your personal space, informed consent, and other first session issues.
  • Making sense of HIPAA and state licensing issues in the practice of online therapy.

Session 6 - December 19

The Ethics of Self Disclosure

Ken Hardy

Kenneth Hardy, Ph.D.

Examine the benefits and risks of being more transparent as a clinician by understanding:

  • The guidelines for determining when to self-disclose and how to determine the difference between discussing and disclosing.
  • How self-disclosure can remove barriers and reduce the power differential between therapist and client.
  • How to use “shock absorbers” to give context to revealing therapist self-disclosures.
  • How to respond to personal questions and where to draw the line.
  • The complexities of self-disclosing in couples or family therapy.
Streaming-video webcasts available on-demand 24/7.
Watch sessions again and again for a full year after purchase.
Download MP3s of every session. They're yours to keep forever.
Downloadable transcripts so you can take notes or review at any time.

Have You Wondered...

What's Really Going On?
  • Whether or not to accept a grateful client's gift?

  • What to do when you begin to feel a sexual attraction to a client?

  • How to handle an invitation to a social event where you know you'll meet some of your clients?

  • Whether you should share with a client a difficult experience you've had that parallels what they're struggling with?

  • What ethical safeguards to consider if you Skype or SMS clients, or use social media?

  • What's the harm in making an ethical exception "just this once"?

Get Fresh Ideas on how to protect yourself in our “Ethics in an Age of Informality” Webcast

Watch a preview of this series:

What People Say About Our Webcasts:

What an informative and down-to-earth talk, with so many valuable tips and insights…
I put some of your ideas to work immediately and had success!

Vicki S.

I am enlightened, left wanting more. I will review this webcast again and again. So much to digest and use. Thank you so much for your time.

Leslie A.

The presentation was quite educational and full of practical down to earth "know how" on how to deal with male-shame. I found the insights and learning to be true not only in the clinical setting but also in ordinary day to day experience.

Bud C.

Thank you for teaching a very strong and empowering way to relate with clients.

Noriko S.

Our Presenters Are Leaders In The Field


Lisa Ferentz, L.C.S.W., is the president and founder of The Institute for Advanced Psychotherapy Training and Education, Inc., and is a Diplomat of the American Psychotherapy Association.

Mitchell Handelsman, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology at the University of Colorado Denver, and co-editor of the APA Handbook of Ethics in Psychology.

Mary Jo Barrett, M.S.W., the founder and director of the Center for Contextual Change, teaches at the University of Chicago. She’s the coauthor of Systemic Treatment of Incest.

Frederic Reamer, Ph.D., is a professor in the graduate program of the School of Social Work at Rhode Island College, and author of the book Boundary Issues and Dual Relationships in the Human Services.

DeeAnna Nagel, L.P.C., a psychotherapist and consultant, is the co-founder of the Online Therapy Institute and the author of Online Therapy: A Practical Guide.

Kenneth Hardy, Ph.D., is director of the Eikenberg Institute for Relationships and professor of marriage and family therapy at Drexel University.


Risk-Free Guarantee

rich simon-105We invite you to register without any risk. Unless you're completely satisfied, we'll refund your money. Just let us know within 30 days. We're that confident that you'll find this learning experience to be all that's promised and more than you expected.
The content of this course is at the introductory - intermediate level.