How to Protect Yourself in the Ethical Gray Zone

Frederic Reamer on the Importance of Documentation

Rich Simon

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 Serviceshas 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 from Frederic’s session in our brand new webcast series, Ethics in an Age of Informality, 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.


This is just one of the many ethical issues that will be covered in our new webcast series.

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

Click here for full course details


Here’s a preview of what each session in this series offers you:

  • Lisa Ferentz on Countertransference: Probing the Heart of Our Ethical Dilemmas
    Examine the personal issues that can lead therapists to violate boundaries using clips from the HBO series, In Treatment.

  • Mitchell Handelsman on Beyond Good Intentions: Positive Ethics with Difficult Clients
    Explore the principles of ethical excellence and how to maintain the highest standards even with your most challenging cases.

  • Mary Jo Barrett on The Ethically Attuned Therapist
    Learn how to effectively establish boundaries from the very first session.

  • Frederic Reamer on The Ambiguities of Ethical Practice: Defining Our Clinical Role and Its Limits
    Get a clear understanding of how to protect yourself from potential ethical violations when the issue isn’t black or white.

  • DeeAnna Nagel on The Ethics of Online Therapy
    Address the ethical questions that arise when offering therapy online.

  • Kenneth Hardy on The Ethics of Self Disclosure
    Examine the benefits and risks of being more transparent as a clinician.


Ethics in an Age of Informality
Series Begins December 3rd

Click here for full course details

Topic: Challenging Clients & Treatment Populations | Ethics

Tags: ethical issues | attuned therapist | boundaries | boundary issues | Countertransference | ethical issue | Ethical violation | Mary Jo Barrett | online therapy | relationships | therapist | therapists | therapy | Transference

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1 Comment

Friday, May 9, 2014 10:50:48 PM | posted by Susan
What makes a therapist think he can test the waters and play games and get paid for it?
The therapist I went to played way to many games and lied too. It was so apparent. A caring person wouldn't play games. A narcissist would. He just cared about his agenda; although he was nice enough to do some therapy. I will never forget what happened. He said so many things that should never have been said. Here's the part that hurts the most. I know he didn't speak to all women like this. Because if he did he's be out of business. He choose me to speak his cheap stuff to. He knew he'd get away with it. He knew I wouldn't report him. And he knew I'd feel really bad. Maybe it was bad transference. Maybe he got his kicks. He said I look nice & once kinda said I'm pretty. For him it was all about the fame & money. If you really need to hurt people please get help. No one should pay to be hurt!!!!!!!!!!!!