How to Protect Yourself in the Ethical Gray Zone

Frederic Reamer on the Importance of Documentation

As clinicians, we try to prepare ourselves as best we can for any ethical issues that could arise with clients. But while we know the answers to the obvious dilemmas—don’t date clients, don’t accept lavish gifts, etc.—where does that leave us with the endless list of ethical issues that fall into the gray area of ethical ambiguity?

Frederic Reamer, author of Boundary Issues and Dual Relationships in the Human Services, has a simple solution to keep yourself protected from potential violations: “Document, document, document.”

Having attended several licensing board hearings about boundary cases, Frederic has seen more than one clinician run into trouble when they have nothing tangible to back up their case or prove that how they claim they conducted themselves is true.

Watch this brief clip to hear him explain the importance of documentation and how it can save you from potential legal woes, even when you’re sure you’re in the right.




Rich Simon

Richard Simon, PhD, founded Psychotherapy Networker and served as the editor for more than 40 years. He received every major magazine industry honor, including the National Magazine Award. Rich passed away November 2020, and we honor his memory and contributions to the field every day.