Topic - Ethics

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

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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Losing Focus as a Therapist

Mary Jo Barrett on Being Better Attuned to Clients

Rich Simon

We know that our primary initial responsibility as a therapist is to listen intently to what the client says, giving them our undivided attention. But being only human, there are times when we get distracted and are no longer focused on what the client is telling us.

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From Good Person to Ethical Professional

Mitch Handelsman on the Effectiveness of Ethics Acculturation

Rich Simon

There’s a big difference between being a generally nice person with good intentions and an ethical professional. So how do we bridge that gap?

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