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PROFESSIONAL ETHICS: B oundaries in Helping Relationships _________________ Jan Vick, LCSW-BACS, ACSW Joel A. Vanderlick PowerPoint Presentation
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PROFESSIONAL ETHICS: B oundaries in Helping Relationships _________________ Jan Vick, LCSW-BACS, ACSW Joel A. Vanderlick, LCSW Trinell Merricks, GSW. Concept of Boundaries. A sense of personal identity and self definition that has consistency and cohesion over time.

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PROFESSIONAL ETHICS:Boundaries in Helping Relationships_________________Jan Vick, LCSW-BACS, ACSWJoel A. Vanderlick, LCSWTrinell Merricks, GSW

concept of boundaries
Concept of Boundaries
  • A sense of personal identity and self definition that has consistency and cohesion over time.
  • This remains constant regardless of emotional ups and downs or external pressures.
  • The framework within which the worker-client relationship occurs.
  • Provides a system of limit setting
  • The line between the self of client and self of worker
why talk about boundaries
Why Talk About Boundaries?
  • Reduces risk of client exploitation
  • Reduces client anxiety as rules and roles are clear
  • Increases well-being of the worker
  • Provides role model for clients
who negotiates boundaries
Who Negotiates Boundaries?
  • Duty of the worker to act in the best interest of the client
  • The worker is ultimately responsible for managing boundary issues
why the worker
Why the Worker?
  • Worker is the professional!
  • Clients may not be aware of the need for boundaries or able to defend themselves against boundary violations
  • There is an inherent power imbalance between worker and client- worker is perceived as having power and control
clear boundary areas
Clear Boundary Areas:
  • Planning social activities with clients
  • Having sex with clients
  • Having family members or friends as clients
a client should not be your
A Client Should Not Be Your:
  • Lover
  • Relative
  • Employee or Employer
  • Instructor
  • Business Partner
  • Friend

Strictly prohibited by the Social Work Code of Ethics

areas where boundaries may blur
Areas Where Boundaries May Blur:
  • Self disclosure
  • Giving or receiving significant gifts
  • Dual or overlapping relationships
  • Becoming friends
  • Physical contact
danger zones
Danger Zones
  • Over-identification with client’s issues
  • Strong attraction to client’s personality
  • Strong physical attraction to client
  • Clients who can potentially reward you with their influence
  • Transference and counter transference
questions to ask in examining potential boundary issues
Questions to Ask in Examining Potential Boundary Issues:
  • Is this in my client’s best interest?
  • Whose needs are being served?
  • How would I feel telling a colleague about this?
  • How would this be viewed by the client’s family or significant other?
  • Does the client mean something ‘special’ to me?
  • Am I taking advantage of the client?
  • Does this action benefit me rather than the client?
exploitation
Exploitation
  • Use of professional relationship to promote or advance our emotional, financial, sexual, religious, or personal needs
  • Stems from the inherent power differential and the ability we have to exert influence on the client
a closer look at exploitation
A Closer Look at Exploitation:
  • Client may actually initiate and be gratified by the exploitation- they may enjoy feeling ‘special’ or being ‘helpful’
  • Can be subtle and vary from promoting excessive dependency to avoiding confrontation because we enjoy the adoration of our clients
  • Using information learned professionally from the client for personal gain
dual relationships
Dual Relationships
  • When you have more than one role with a client
  • Such relationships can blur boundaries
  • This ‘blurring of boundaries’ increases the risk of exploitation as roles can become confused
slide18

Important Note:Most cases of sexual exploitation or other ethical violations began with a step into a seemingly innocent dual relationship**Taylor Aultman

not all client interactions are dual relationships
Not All Client Interactions are Dual Relationships:
  • Running into a client at a social event
  • Your client is your waiter at a restaurant
  • How you participate in the interaction will determine the outcome
some dual relationships are unavoidable
Some Dual Relationships are Unavoidable
  • You and a client belong to the same church
  • A client lives in your neighborhood
  • Your agency hires clients as staff or utilizes clients as volunteers
dealing with unavoidable dual relationships
Dealing with Unavoidable Dual Relationships
  • Open and honest discussion with client on the nature of your relationships
  • Separate functions by locations- work, home, etc.
  • Be aware of threats to confidentiality
  • Understand your role as professional
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A client, who is a mother of three latency age children, is facing the breakup of her marriage. She is very concerned about how her children will respond, what steps she can take to minimize the disruption to their lives, and how she will manage financially with the reduced income. The social worker relates her own experience of divorce and the parenting issues which followed.

slide24

A social worker and client both agree to terminate services. After several years the worker sees the client at a shopping mall. The client offers to take the worker to the food court for lunch to show appreciation for all the help provided during their treatment sessions.

slide25

You have a client who recently started his own small tax accounting business. He has shared with you that the business is struggling and he does not know what he will do if the business fails. The client asks to prepare your taxes this year.

slide26

You have a client who is an independent artist and he brings you a gift of his artwork. The client gathers the materials for his art from salvage around town.

slide27

You and your family are attending a home game. As you are walking to the stadium a client recognizes you and offers for you to join her tailgate party. The client also notices that your tickets are in the same area of the stadium as hers.

slide28
You work in a large outpatient setting that employs several social workers. You are interested in a client waiting to see a colleague.
slide29

You are a social worker in private practice whose client has just been diagnosed with a terminal illness. The client is frightened, crying, and hunched over.

slide30
A year after termination, a client calls and invites you to lunch to catch up on events that have transpired since the ending of therapy.
slide31

You and a client have similar tastes and interests. After a year of therapy, you and the client terminate the professional relationship. The client expresses gratitude at her progress, sadness at the ending of the relationship, and hope that the two of you can become friends now that therapy has ended.

minimizing risk of exploitation and boundary crossing
Minimizing Risk of Exploitation and Boundary Crossing:
  • Be alert to potential or actual conflicts of interest
minimizing risk of exploitation and boundary crossing1
Minimizing Risk of Exploitation and Boundary Crossing:
  • Be alert to potential or actual conflicts of interest
  • Maintain supervision or consultation relationships
minimizing risk of exploitation and boundary crossing2
Minimizing Risk of Exploitation and Boundary Crossing:
  • Be alert to potential or actual conflicts of interest
  • Maintain supervision or consultation relationships
  • Be aware that isolation is often a major factor in ethical violations
minimizing risk of exploitation and boundary crossing3
Minimizing Risk of Exploitation and Boundary Crossing:
  • Be alert to potential or actual conflicts of interest
  • Maintain supervision or consultation relationships
  • Be aware that isolation is often a major factor in ethical violations
  • Meet your personal needs in other areas of your life
minimizing risk of exploitation and boundary crossing4
Minimizing Risk of Exploitation and Boundary Crossing:
  • Be alert to potential or actual conflicts of interest
  • Maintain supervision or consultation relationships
  • Be aware that isolation is often a major factor in ethical violations
  • Meet your personal needs in other areas of your life
  • Relationship should focus on client at all times
minimizing risk of exploitation and boundary crossing5
Minimizing Risk of Exploitation and Boundary Crossing:
  • Be alert to potential or actual conflicts of interest
  • Maintain supervision or consultation relationships
  • Be aware that isolation is often a major factor in ethical violations
  • Meet your personal needs in other areas of your life
  • Relationship should focus on client at all times
  • A clear understanding of ethics and attention to professional boundaries