Boundaries in client-counselor relationship

There is high importance when it comes to maintaining professional boundaries for psychologists as this will help protect the psychologist and their client. It is understood that “therapeutic boundaries derive from the rules of the professional relationship that distinguish it from business or social relationships. These rules clarify which behaviors are acceptable in therapy” (Knapp, Slattery, 2004, p 553). It is important to keep these boundaries because it helps the psychologist upkeep the APA General Principles, especially those relating to Beneficence and Nonmaleficence to work to do no harm (Knapp et al., 2015). It can cause clients and the psychologist a lot of discomfort and tension if these boundaries are crossed. If the professional boundaries are crossed it can not only lead to potential legal issues if severe enough, but it may also cause the treatment to not be as effective. Maintaining professional boundaries within the office setting can help both parties if they run into one another outside of their normal appointment. It is a possibility for psychologists to run into their clients at the gym, restaurants, or any other social setting. If the psychologist has looser boundaries, it may increase the likelihood of boundaries being crossed in other situations. It may also help to maintain consistent professional boundaries in case a situation arises that may not be clearly stated in the APA Ethics Code like accepting gifts or self-disclosure (Knapp, Slattery, 2004). Having and maintaining professional boundaries will help the psychologist and client feel the most comfortable and have the best opportunity for successful treatment.

5-1 KG REPLY (250 words with reference)

Counselors have been challenged for decades by ethical issues surrounding how to set & maintain boundaries in the client-counselor relationship. A boundary can be described as a frame around the counseling relationship that creates safety for both the client & the counselor. Counselors need to establish clear boundaries in their work because clients can sometimes misunderstand the counseling relationship. Some rules regarding boundaries are absolute: for example, the “Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct” (APA, 2002) prohibits sexual intimacies with students and supervisees (Standard 7.07), current clients (10.05), persons known to be close relatives of current clients (10.06), and former therapy clients except in highly unusual circumstances (10.08). In addition, psychologists should not conduct therapy with former sexual partners (10.07). Other standards are more flexible and involve understanding based on therapeutic direction. Psychologists also need to set boundaries considering the client’s cultural background. Psychologists who consider engaging in boundary crossings should do so based on the client’s best interest but need to be aware of self-interest. Professional boundaries prevent harm to clients and provide both structure and safety (Smith & Fritzpatrick 1995). When therapeutic boundaries are effective, psychologists refrain from exploiting the relationship for their benefit, focus on promoting client welfare, and strive to enhance client autonomy and independence. Ineffective boundaries, on the other hand, reduce or inhibit a client’s ability to make free choices. The psychologist’s challenge is to determine when circumstances justify a boundary-crossing. (Smith & Fritzpatrick 1995). Boundary crossings can become boundary violations when they place clients at risk of harm. Professional counselors in all settings are bound to encounter boundary issues in their work. Counselors need to use their discretion and engage in boundary crossings when precautions are taken to safeguard client welfare.

5-3 REPLY KK (250 words with reference)

If a psychologist has crossed boundaries they can be reported to APA if they are a member. When a member is reported there is a process that happens, and the situation will be reviewed by many committee members along with the board. Evidence must be provided for the members to evaluate (APA, 2017). If the members and board find that unethical actions have been committed there are different consequences. In some situations, if an ethics code was violated but it can be rectified without the psychologist losing their position (APA, 2017). In a situation that is severe, the board can force the psychologist to resign their position (APA, 2017). Then there may be no option but the broad to force expulsion from the APA which in turn the psychologist most like would lose their license (APA, 2017).

Psychologists are here to help people through issues in their lives so more traumatic than others. It is easy to overshare or what to comfort a patient but it is important that professionalism is always met.

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