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This course material will equip clinicians with a basic understanding of core ethical principles and standards related to the topics discussed and ethical decision-making generally, but cannot cover every possible circumstance.
When in doubt, we advise consultation with knowledgeable colleagues and/or professional association ethics committees. Ethics charges based on inappropriate role-blurring account for the majority of ethics complaints and licensing board actions (Bader, 1994; Koocher & Keith-Spiegel, 2016; Montgomery & Cupit, 1999; Neukrug, Milliken, & Walden, 2001; Sonne, 1994). Boundary issues can arise in ways that therapists may not initially predict or even recognize.
Over the last couple of decades we have witnessed a relaxation of rigid restrictions.
The reasoning for this has included the recognition that boundary crossing cannot be totally avoided, some belonging under certain circumstances may even be helpful to the client (or at least cause them no harm), and sometimes boundary crossings are mandated (Barnett, 2017a).
On the surface, the loosening of restrictions also feels more protective of therapists, allowing for leeway as to how therapists and their clients interact.