Ethical and Professional Boundary Issues in Professional Practice.

Ethics in professional practice must be regarded in the highest esteem, without the maintenance of ethical behaviour in professional practice you can not only put yourself in harm’s way, but the client also. You may not be covered if something goes wrong and it is compromising your effectiveness as a practitioner.

Physical Contact with patients in a sexual manner is a big no-no, the practitioner may no longer be ensured and it is highly unethical. The problem with this is that if you are counselling children your relationship to them on the street may be completely different to when they come to you for advice in which you may engage in a hug. Physical contact, like verbal communication is always open to interpretation which can leave it open to misinterpretation.

Dual relationships can be a large ethical problem but sometimes are unavoidable due to the proximity of the town. In smaller towns where everyone knows everyone, it can be hard to avoid doing business or ‘buying’ from a client if they own a shop. The location of the practice is also a big thing to think about, if it is at your home and you work alone there is a strong temptation to slip into a more relaxed standard, as well as having clients learn about your private life.

In small towns or even big towns it is always possible that you may end up faced with the chance of treating friends. The problem with this is that it may impair objectivity or create over involvement on a personal level rather than a professional level. The problem with dual and multiple relationships is that the treatment may be less effective due to the practitioner who is performing it.

Exploitation of client or practitioner can occur if clear boundaries aren’t defined, for example the haggeling of money or number of sessions. The practitioner may either take advantage (eg, convince Patient that they need to come back all the time or their preconceived ideas of the client may get in the way of some more major problems that the client may be facing) or be taken advantage of ( be convinced that client doesn’t need more sessions, or that the client gets some things for free).

A breach in confidentiality may occur if a dual relationship is created, which not only affects the other client’s information, but for the practitioner as well who may share inappropriate personal information.

Transference and Counter- Transference, can be described as the development of intense feelings on one side of the professional relationship.
Transference, when the Client develops intense feelings for the practitioner it can be both positive and negative with the patient treating the practitioner as a significant member of their life. I believe that the negative aspect may occur more (murphy’s law after all) but when the positive outcome occurs it can be due to the patient being invested in it after a long absence in personal or social contact investment.
Counter-Transference, the intense feelings of a practitioner towards client, I think that this can be brought on by the emotional connection and bond formed between client and practitioner during the rapport stage.

Without ethical behaviour in a professional setting, more harm may be done than good. The laid back and probably somewhat inappropriate interactions between client and practitioner can be destructive as it crosses boundaries. Mostly what stands out to me is that it compromises the treatment given to client and the unhealthy events due to dual relationships and breaches in ethics, the moral code adopted for correct conduct.

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