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Protecting Yourself When Boundaries Blur

The days of the removed, blank-screen therapist are over. Even as the pervasive informality of our times has challenged many traditional boundaries in the therapeutic relationship, the digital revolution has transformed our most basic ideas of when our “office” hours end and where sessions take place. As a result, many therapists are finding the standards of care for our profession increasingly fuzzy.

Our Webcast series—Ethics in an Age of Informality—offers refreshing clarity about how to stay within the ethical straight-and-narrow in a world where personal and social boundaries have become so blurry it’s possible to transgress them without even realizing it.

Join ethics experts Lisa Ferentz, Mitchell Handelsman, Mary Jo Barrett, Frederic Reamer, DeeAnna Nagel, and Kenneth Hardy for 6 lively conversations about the ethical challenges and ambiguities of 21st-century clinical practice. Getting your ethics CEs has never been so engaging and fun.

Join us and you’ll learn:

  • How to navigate the new ethical issues digital communications have introduced into our field
  • An up-to-date perspective on the do's and don'ts of therapist self-disclosure, dual relationships, client gift giving, and participating in social occasions with clients outside the office
  • Sound guidelines 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 standards you need to understand in order to practice safely and effectively

Learn How to Protect Yourself
in an Age of Ethical Landmines

Session 1

Countertransference: Probing the Heart of Our Ethical Dilemmas
Lisa Ferentz, L.C.S.W.

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

Lisa Ferentz
  • Seeing clients in your home, including the impact of having family pictures and personal objects in view
  • The dangers of seeing clients when you’re emotionally stressed
  • Using the “Five-Second Rule” to avoid inappropriate self-disclosure
  • Responding to seductive client communication
Lisa Ferentz is the president and founder of The Institute for Advanced Psychotherapy Training and Education, Inc.

Session 2

Beyond Good Intentions: Positive Ethics with Difficult Clients
Mitchell Handelsman, Ph.D.

Explore the principles of ethical excellence and bringing the highest standards to your practice by:
Mitchell Handelsman
  • Defining positive ethics and the strategies of ethical acculturation in the development of a clinician
  • BANJO as an acronym for foundational ethical criteria—beneficence, autonomy, non-malfeasance, justice, and other issues
  • Learning the dangers of making ethical exceptions “just this once”
Mitchell Handelsman is a professor of psychology at the University of Colorado Denver and coeditor of the APA Handbook Ethics in Psychology.

Session 3

The Ethically Attuned Therapist
Mary Jo Barrett, M.S.W.

Get practical guidance on how to establish boundaries from the first session by understanding:
Mary Jo Barrett
  • 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
Mary Jo Barrett, the founder of the Center for Contextual Change, teaches at the University of Chicago.

Session 4

The Ambiguities of Ethical Practice: Defining Our Clinical Role and Its Limits
Frederic Reamer, Ph.D.

Examine the ethical questions resulting from today’s cultural and technological changes, including:
Frederic Reamer
  • 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
Frederic Reamer is the author of Boundary Issues and Dual Relationships in the Human Services.

Session 5

The Ethics of Online Therapy
DeeAnna Nagel, L.P.C.

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

DeeAnna Nagel
  • Defining online therapy—is it for everyone?
  • Understanding the Disinhibition Effect and the nature of cyber culture
  • 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
DeeAnna Nagel is the cofounder of the Online Therapy Institute and the author of Online Therapy: A Practical Guide.

Session 6

The Ethics of Self Disclosure
Kenneth Hardy, Ph.D.

Examine the benefits and risks of being more transparent as a clinician by understanding:
Ken Hardy
  • The guidelines for determining when to self-disclose and the complexities of self-disclosing in couples or family therapy
  • 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
Kenneth Hardy is director of the Eikenberg Institute for Relationships and professor of marriage and family therapy at Drexel University.

Have You Wondered….

  • 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"?

This 6-session Webcast series is your chance to get practical, up-to-date answers to these questions and more.

A New Way to Learn: A Note from Rich Simon

As editor of the Psychotherapy Networker for over 30 years, I’ve learned a lot from all of you about what it takes to engage therapists’ curiosity, anticipate their questions, and make sure they get answers they can use. I’ve also learned that any subject—including clinical ethics—if approached in the right way, can be deeply engrossing, understandable, and entertaining.

My goal in each Webcast interview is to zero in on what you need to know to deepen your craft as a therapist. At the same time, the spontaneous, free flow of the conversation makes learning far more enjoyable than stodgy workshop lectures and PowerPoint presentations. Our Webcast series are an exciting, new way to stay on the field’s cutting edge.

But enough words—to see what we mean, just click on the video below to watch a preview.

Get all 6 Webcast sessions for a learning opportunity that fits your schedule

  • Watch them again and again for a full year. Take up to a year from purchase date to complete your CE quiz online
  • Download audios of each session so you can listen any time—in your car, at home, or while you exercise
  • Download full transcripts and bonus articles to add to your permanent library

If you're not completely satisfied we'll refund your money in full—100%. Just let us know within 30 days. I'm that confident that you'll find this learning experience to be all that's promised and more than you expected.

Here's What Your Colleagues
Say about Networker Webcasts

quote-authors-swallow The rich, succinct content presented by
leaders in each subject area is insightful,
practical, and well worth the price.
Ellen S.
- Hermosa Beach, CA

quote-authors-harnisch Thanks for a session with immediately
applicable concepts.
Ruth Ann H. - Hampton Bays, NY
quote-authors-shwartz Whoa! That was excellent--great material!
I'll listen to this about ten time. Thank you.
Andrew S.
- Austin, TX
quote-authors-crespi Thank you, Rich Simon, for having such great
Webcasts and being an excellent interviewer.
Lee C.
- New York, NY


Don’t get caught by surprise. Find out how to stay within the ethical straight-and-narrow in a world where personal and social boundaries have become so blurry it’s possible to transgress them without even realizing it. This 6-session Webcast course offers all you need to know—about maintaining boundaries, privacy in the Internet age, and more.

The complete 6-series Webcast series is available now.

The content of this course is at the introductory to intermediate level.