Topic - Ethics

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We've gathered Psychotherapy Networkers most popular posts and arranged them here by topic.

What the Financial Crisis Reveals About Our Psyche and Values

Confronting our Definitions of Wealth in the Therapy Room

Mary Sykes Wylie

The current economic crisis may be no more than a rather large bump in the golden road of endlessly self-renewing American prosperity. Still, it's hard not to have a sense of foreboding that, this time, things really are different. Perhaps this is a good time to revisit some of our basic assumptions about wealth---what it means to us as Americans, how it defines us as a people, how it influences the way we think about ourselves, about freedom, success, and happiness, about what we really want from life, and what the American Dream really means to us.

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Preventing Burnout with Micro Self-Care

Rejuvenating Practices for the Burned-Out Therapist

Ashley Davis-Bush

One day while in session, I felt not only overworked and undernourished, but potentially unhelpful, or even damaging, to the people I wanted to help. The dominant advice was simple: do more self-care. Unfortunately, the suggestions, which I’ve since come to call macro self-care, usually seem to require substantial commitments of time, effort, and often money. But micro self-care is available at all times, on demand. Here's an array of brief tools that are simple, free, and doable.

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Does Self-Disclosure in Therapy Hurt or Heal?

Finding a Balance in Sharing Personal Information with Clients

Janine Roberts

Despite our best intentions, self-disclosure can backfire. So why are we drawn to it so strongly as a therapeutic tool? Hundreds of therapists in workshops I've led around the world have said they share personal information to strengthen the therapeutic alliance, demystify therapy, and reduce the power differential between themselves and their clients. In the discussion about self-disclosure, we need to move beyond an either/or frame, as in "yes, do it," or "no, keep tight boundaries."

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An Ethical Dilemma: When Therapy Clients Give Gifts

Reconciling Boundaries with the Therapeutic Alliance

Jenny Newsome

When I was young and only three years out of graduate school, one of my first private clients came into a session carrying a small package simply wrapped in brown paper and string. The memory of that package and how I reacted to it haunts me still. Inside, was a necklace, and not just any necklace: a gold chain with a diamond pendant that she had designed herself, worth about $500. I told her flatly that accepting something so expensive was against the ethical rules of my profession. Suddenly, I'd allowed other voices into the sanctuary of our therapy. Once they were there, I couldn't get them out.

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Letting Self-Disclosure Mix with the Therapist Persona

Tearing Down Boundaries Between Therapist and Client

Linda Stone Fish

I live in a small city in Upstate New York, and most people in town know somebody who knows me, my husband, or one of our four engaged and energetic sons. Despite all this, I managed, for two decades, to maintain (in my own mind, at least) a fire wall between my personal and professional lives. In the consulting room and the classroom, I worked to present an air of calm worldliness, an expert with the answers to all sorts of painful therapeutic and family dilemmas. Until one day, I was caught being myself, and everything changed.

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Avoiding Runaway Ethics in Psychotherapy

Is Risk Management Threatening the Therapeutic Alliance?

Ofer Zur

Currently, the field is so deluged with dire warnings of imminent professional ruin that many therapists practice under a cloud of fear. At our professional meetings, in the legal columns that are now a regular feature of our journals, and at workshops and seminars, legal professionals, usually without any clinical training whatsoever, are giving their opinions about how we should practice, what we're allowed to do, and what we should never do---and scaring us to death in the process. As it turns out, this extreme self-watchfulness and rigid avoidance of anything resembling a "boundary violation" by a psychoanalytic or risk-management yardstick can do clients real harm.

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Nightmare in Aisle 6

A Therapist Caught in the Act of Being Herself

Linda Stone Fish

I live in a small city in Upstate New York, and most people in town know somebody who knows me, my husband, or one of our four engaged and energetic sons. Despite all this, I managed, for two decades, to maintain (in my own mind, at least) a fire wall between my personal and professional lives. In the consulting room and the classroom, I worked to present an air of calm worldliness, an expert with the answers to all sorts of painful therapeutic and family dilemmas. Until one day, I was caught being myself, and everything changed.

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To Tell the Truth

Letting Go of Our Inscrutable Facade

Jay Efran and Mitchell Green

Therapists aren't supposed to discuss personal problems, or even acknowledge having any. While preaching congruence, who among us has never pretended fondness for a client we actually disliked, didn't understand and didn't trust? But on at least two ticklish occasions, with a minimum of strategic deliberation, I opted to step out from behind my own well-cultivated facade of inscrutability to tell clients the unvarnished truth---with surprising results.

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When Client Relationships Lean Romantic

Pulling Back When Therapy Stretches Ethical Boundaries

Mary Jo Barrett

Before it happened to me, I had never heard even my closest colleague talk about falling in love with a client. In our consultation group, the subject was once broached purely theoretically, and everyone became uncomfortably quiet. The message we gave each other was clear: Whatever you do, don't talk about having a crush on a client. Yet, I want to break our conspiracy of silence so that we can get help when we need it. And believe me, when it came to Scott, I did.

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Ethics of the Greater Therapeutic Alliance

Do Dual Relationships Really Threaten Psychotherapy?

Arnold Lazarus

I believe that some elements of our ethical codes have become so needlessly stringent and rigid that they can undermine effective therapy. Take, for example, the almost universal taboo on "dual relationships," which discourages any connection outside the "boundaries" of the therapeutic relationship, such as lunching or socializing. These "boundary crossings," are rarely harmful and may even enhance the therapeutic connection. My experience with Mark and Sally was one such boundary crossing.

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