Ethics Dictionary (A-Z) for the New Year

By Ofer Zur, Ph.D.


Abandonment: It is very important to terminate appropriately and avoid real or perceived abandonment. Always remember that it is the client’s prerogative to terminate at anytime. Free Resource

Bartering: Appropriate bartering for goods or services are common and ethical in rural and agricultural communities and can be ethical in other settings. Document the bartering arrangement. Free Resource

Collaterals are when, besides your client and yourself, the clinician, other people such as parents and spouses are also present in the session. Make sure the collaterals sign a Collateral Disclosure Statement. Free Resource.

Dual relationships may be unavoidable or avoidable, mandated or optional, ethical or unethical. Do not listen to the false and misleading advice to avoid dual relationships at all costs. It is neither advisable nor possible to avoid all dual relationships. Free Resources, Online CE Course.

Ethical Risk Management is not about rigidly avoiding all touch, gifts, self-disclosure, or dual relationships. Ethical risk management is about providing excellent clinical services, keeping good records, consulting as necessary, etc. Free Resource, Online CE Course.

Forensic Dual Relationships are to be avoided whenever possible. One of the easiest ways to lose a license is to write a custody letter on behalf of a client-parent. Leave custody evaluations to certified custody evaluators. Free Resource.

Gifts: Appropriate and ethical gifts to and from clients are likely to increase therapeutic alliance and therapeutic effectiveness. Free Resource, Online CE Course.

Home Visit or Home-Based Therapy with house-bound clients is generally ethical and clinically effective. Free Resource, Online CE Course.

Internet Therapy or TeleMental Health is clearly the way of the future. Learn about how to ethically conduct online therapy. Verify that your insurance covers TeleMental Health and make sure you keep yourself updated on the ever-shifting rules and regulations, Free Resources, Online CE Course.

Juvenile: Learn about the rules of child abuse reporting, situations where you can see young clients without parental consent, etc. Free Resource, Online CE Courses.

Knowledge of the standard of care is extremely important as it determines what kind of interventions are ethical and legal. Free Resources, Online CE Course.

LGBTQ: Respect and honor gender diversity, especially when working with LGBTQ clients and their families and community. Online CE Course.

Mandated and unavoidable Dual Relationships take place in military, prison and sometimes in police settings. Resources: Police & Military, Online CE Course.

Nudity with your clients can be surprisingly ethical if you encounter your client at the local gym’s shower or on the nudist beach. Online CE Course.

Out of Office Therapy: Treating clients outside the office can be highly effective and less restrictive for clients who prefer having therapy outside the office, such as on a nearby trail or a park. Free Resource, Online CE Course.

Practice with integrity means focusing on clients’ welfare via ethical practices and not operating out of fear of boards and/or attorneys. Free Resource, Online CE Course.

Question experts and ethicists who confuse or equate rigid risk management with the standard of care that allows for flexible practices that increase therapeutic effectiveness. Free Resources, Online CE Courses.

Rural communities present unavoidable and highly flexible boundaries in regard to gifts, self-disclosure, home visits gifts, and dual relationships. Free Resources.

Self-Disclosure, whether online or in person, is unavoidable at times and can enhance the therapeutic alliance & effectiveness of therapy. Free Resource, Online CE Course.

Touch that is ethically appropriate and non-sexual can be highly effective in enhancing the therapeutic alliance & effectiveness of therapy. Free Resource, Online CE Course.

Unethical conduct includes sex with clients, intentional infliction of harm or intentional exploitation. Free Resources, Online CE Course.

Vicarous liability is secondary liability to supervisees, employees or other subordinates. Make sure that you have supervised them well and that your liability insurance covers them. Free Resources.

Web-Based Therapy includes videoconferencing, or therapy that utilizes e-mails, texting, etc. It is clearly the way of the future. Learn how to ethically and legally conduct TeleMental Health or E-Therapy. Free Resources, Online CE Courses.

Xenophobia: Learn to respect diversity and work with people of different cultures. Free Resources, Online CE Course.

Yelp: Do not respond instinctively to clients’ negative Yelp reviews. Take a deep breath, do not respond (and violate confidentiality). Consult, consult and consult. Free Resource, Online CE Course.

Zur Institute is one of the most prolific educational institutions for psychotherapists, counselors and mental health professionals. Along with 170 high quality Online CE Courses, the Institute offers a large library of free articles and resources.

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