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Ethical Boundaries Misused In Today’s Clinical Psychology

1697 words - 7 pages

Ethical Boundaries Misused in Today’s Clinical Psychology
In today’s psychology profession, a therapist and even the client can cross many boundaries if immediate boundaries are not put into place during the initial visit. Some boundaries that are crossed are not a problem at first and then the problem progresses. Leonard L. Glass called these, “the gray areas of boundary crossing and violation” (429). However, there is further description, “Boundary issues mostly refer to the therapist's self-disclosure, touch, an exchange of gifts, bartering and fees, length and location of sessions and contact outside the office” (Guthiel & Gabbard). This statement by Thomas G. Gutheil, M.D. & Glen O. Gabbard, M.D explains the meaning of boundary issues that most will face in treating patients in the mental health profession. The ethical boundaries can be harmful to the client and the therapist, if clear boundaries are not established early in treatment. “Therapy can be confusing: two people converse in a private room, one in distress, the other described as a helpful expert: At least one of the two is likely to express thoughts and feelings usually kept secret” (10). This statement by Madill et al. is important because in a therapy setting, you have two people and human emotions can easily become a part of the dilemma in treatment. Misuse of ethical boundaries is prevalent in today’s practice of clinical psychology. In order to address and minimalize the damage to the client and psychologist, ethical rules are applied.
First, the therapist's self-disclosure boundary commented Ofer Zur, Ph.D., “Is a therapist's self-disclosure inevitably becomes an unhealthy social relationship.” In addition, to find out if the therapist’s self-disclosure was helpful or harmful in patient care a study conducted by Psychologists. The results quoted by Jean Hanson, who wrote "Should Your Lips Be Zipped? How Therapist Self-Disclosure And Non-Disclosure Affects Clients”, stated that, “The study results suggest that therapist self‐disclosure has both positive and negative treatment implications.” It depends on how therapeutic the self-disclosure would benefit the client in that given situation, and the client’s receptiveness to what information is given to them; for example, one patient may respond positively to a therapist’s self –disclosure that reveals another safe point of view of an issue, while another patient might feel that therapist’s has over stepped their boundaries. Madill et al. stated that, “These were sometimes attributed to inexperience and sometimes the characteristics of the total situation, such as events from the therapist's personal life” (13). There are times when sharing something from the therapist can help explain an issue that is present during the time of that therapy appointment. Another problem with a therapist’s self-disclosure is that after years of treatment, the therapist can run out of examples to use to clarify a point made during the...

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