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Engaging in dual relationships is risky business for social workers. Social work is a profession that prides itself on the use of self, the person in the process Mattison, As distinctive and positive as it is, this concept lends itself to developing secondary relationships. These relationships can include nonsexual and legitimate interactions, many of which are unplanned and inadvertent, yet still have ethical ramifications. Ethical issues related to professional boundaries are common and complex.

The client asks the social worker if she would consider being the adoptive parent for her daughter.

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An absolutist might argue that there should be no blurring of roles because there is a foreseeable risk of exploitation. A relativist might argue that it is a win-win situation. In this context, the mother would feel relief, the child would have a good home, and the social worker could adopt as desired. The decision is measured by the goodness of the outcome for the most people. The social work Code of Ethics stipulates that if a dual relationship is exploitative, whether it begins before, during, or after a professional relationship, it should be avoided.

There is room for interpretation, and many of the dual relationships social workers encounter are much more subtle than the egregious exploitation of a sexual relationship: developing a friendship with a client, participating in social activities with clients, belonging to the same social advocacy group as a client, accepting goods instead of money, sharing religious beliefs, counseling a friend.

The potential for exploitation or harm to a client is what makes dual relationships insidious. Dating, bartering, and entering into business arrangements with clients represent examples of situations that are best avoided.

But are these situations always wrong? Often they are inevitable, especially when the social worker is in private practice or practices in a rural setting or a denominational agency. In a small community, same sex social activities are limited and thus may be attended by both client and worker. The incidental occurrence of boundary crossings may be unavoidable.

And there may be therapeutic reasons for crossing the professional boundaries, too, such as eating a meal in a family-based treatment visit or attending the funeral of a hospice patient. Freud a has written about the inadequacy of the Code of Ethics in addressing dual relationships. In fact, she prefers calling them consecutive or concurrent relationships, arguing that the contexts in which dilemmas arise do not easily fit into the guidelines of the code.

Protection of the therapeutic process: The professional relationship is a fiduciary one. It is not a friendship and even minor boundary transgressions can give a mixed message; a boundary symbolizes limits of a professional transaction. Protection of clients from exploitation: Clients are vulnerable, and social workers are entrusted to protect them from more harm. Protection of social workers from liability: The previous discussion of malpractice suits attests to this need.

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However, Freud also asserts that maintaining the rigid power hierarchy of professional-client relationship adds to distancing and reduces authenticity. She objects to the concept of perpetuity, the belief that once someone is a client, he or she is always a client, meaning a social worker should never have any relationship with a former client. She refers to the American Psychological Association, which provides the following specific contextual factors when deciding whether a dual relationship is appropriate:.

It could be argued that these criteria provide a loophole for retrospective rationalization for impaired objectivity.

Nov 20,   A male social worker who took a married female client from his office to a nearby pub, where he complimented her on her appearance, suggested he could pay for Author: David Brindle. If the former client is elected, and, via their office, gains some sort of regulatory or personnel authority over the social worker, must the social worker resign or quit practicing? Suppose a social worker adopts an abandoned child. Ten years later, the social worker discovers that the child's birth mother is the long-lost sister of a former. I also have a social work background and have had to work hard to avoid dating people who were "client material" rather than "Mr. Right material." My most recent one spent most of our first date telling me about how his psycho ex wife came back to his house just before their divorce was final and OD'd in his house.

But does this trend toward legitimization serve only to rationalize poor judgment Johner, ? In some cases, risk management may call for avoidance. Conceptual distinctions proposed in the literature may help put decision making in perspective: boundary crossings, violations, and excursions Ringstad, A boundary crossing occurs when a professional is involved in a second relationship with a client that is not exploitative, coercive, or harmful.

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Boundary crossings have been defined as bending the code, whereas boundary violations are breaking the code. They are not inherently unethical, but they could be. The crossing becomes a violation when the dual relationship has negative consequences for the client.

How to Interview Clients By Social Worker - Domestic Violence

The distinction between crossings and excursions may lie in the difference between inadvertent and deliberate. A blurring may occur unexpectedly when you see a client in the grocery store and he or she introduces you to family members.

An excursion, however, may be more deliberate, as when you serve as an evaluator for an adoption to someone you know.

The social worker may begin sharing confidential information about other clients, partly because the "special" client has gained favored status. The social worker may then begin disclosing personal information, touch the client casually, and spend unusually long periods of time with the client. This may lead to dating and social worker. Jul 19,   Q: Can I date a former social worker who I was a client of? I know a woman who I like and she knows me as her client. Is that possible? a: no. you can't date your former social worker. most countries have very clear laws and codes of conduct again.

Rural communities often have a limited pool of healthcare and mental health providers. In rural or small towns, the possibility of simultaneous personal and professional involvement is high if not inevitable Brownlee, If there is no other referral source, is it better to leave the need unmet or provide the service? This is a case example from the NASW: A rural social worker who provides clinical services at a nursing home has agreed to assume medical power of attorney for a number of patients who have no other appropriate resources.

The social worker differentiates the roles, never providing counseling to the patients for whom he has the fiduciary role and responsibility. One effect is that clients to whom he provides counseling can never have the opportunity to select him as their legal representative, and clients for whom he has power of attorney cannot receive clinical services.

Another example is if a social worker attends the same step group as a client. Should the social worker limit his or her involvement in the group? She is a current state government policy administrator, and is a doctoral student at Walden University, School of Public Policy and Administration.

She may be reached at rhand waldenu. Keri Ann Washburn more than 1 year ago. If you are referring to a sexual relationship, the NASW Code of Ethics states: " c Social workers should not engage in sexual activities or sexual contact with former clients because of the potential for harm to the client. If social workers engage in conduct contrary to this prohibition or claim that an exception to this prohibition is warranted because of extraordinary circumstances, it is social workers-not their clients-who assume the full burden of demonstrating that the former client has not been exploited, coerced, or manipulated, intentionally or unintentionally.

What actions can I take when on my caseworker that supervised my visits is in relations with her client which is my ex.

Rick days ago. If you believe your caseworker is engaged in unethical behavior there are several avenues for reporting this.

Social worker dating former client

Is it a violation of ethical boundary if I work in HSS and mental health clinician and met kids at both jobs? Sadiku Mohammed more than 2 years ago.

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The NASW Code of Ethics states: c Social workers should not engage in dual or multiple relationships with clients or former clients in which there is a risk of exploitation or potential harm to the client. In instances when dual or multiple relationships are unavoidable, social workers should take steps to protect clients and are responsible for setting clear, appropriate, and culturally sensitive boundaries.

Dual or multiple relationships occur when social workers relate to clients in more than one relationship, whether professional, social, or business. Dual or multiple relationships can occur simultaneously or consecutively.

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The key to whether the dual relationship is unethical or not is whether there is the potential of exploitation or harm to the client. This situation also brings up questions of confidentiality and informed consent.

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I had a visit with my social worker last week and she has homework that she assigns me to do for the following week yet wants me to buy a binder folder to keep the assignments inside of. She then told me that if I showed up without the binder, I wouldn't be allowed in the office. Doesn' that sound kind of harsh and does she have the right to make this demand a client?

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JT more than 3 years ago. If meeting the needs of the client is required, and the client wants a sexual relationship with the social worker, will there be a problem if such sexual activity occurs? See section 1. My spouse recently died and I need to sell our family home.

Social workers given guidance on inappropriate relationships with clients

I would like to convert the house I use for clinical practice to part residence and part office. Connie Chamberlain more than 5 years ago. I have a suggestion for your question of why do they violate those boundaries?! Because in my experience in child welfare for 6 years in Pennsylvania-very rarely are they social workers. They may have their degree in psychology, art, music, or basket- weaving but they are still hired on as caseworkers and therefore have no "ethical" obligations or licensing standards.

Oct 01,   It sounds like one of the dilemmas this social worker is faced with is whether the relationship she had with this person could be interpreted as a social worker-client relationship. Social workers who are NASW members can seek ethics consultation about dilemmas like this by calling the number on this site. The client asks the social worker if she would consider being the adoptive parent for her daughter. An absolutist might argue that there should be no blurring of roles because there is a foreseeable risk of exploitation. A relativist might argue that it is a win-win situation. In this context, the mother would feel relief, the child would have. Jul 18,   Professional social workers are taught "once a client, always a client." It is unethical to be the social worker and something else (friend, business partner, paramour). This is referred to as a "dual relationship." Just so there is no mistake, se.

This is a huge problem that really must be addressed before we can hope to see change. Unfortunately here, it still is the same way and until that can change I don't see much change happening in the child welfare system! Stephanie more than 6 years ago. Helping people requires genuine connection; doing so professionally requires a level of detachment.

My metaphor for the professional self is the placenta. Professional helpers don't have a biological organ like the placenta to do this. Why do I say that? Does that serve some need of mine? Most importantly, does this help the client to grow?

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Sexual misconduct between a social worker and a client is often the end result of a series of boundary-related indiscretions in that relationship. The social worker may then begin disclosing personal information, touch the client casually, and spend unusually long periods of time with the client.

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This may lead to dating and social worker-client sex. The pattern is not always this linear, of course, but these elements are not uncommon. Experts working with offending clinicians often suggest guidelines to protect clients and prevent inappropriate dual relationships.

The overwhelming majority of social workers maintain clear and professional boundaries with clients.

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Like all professionals, however, social workers need to be vigilant in their efforts to avoid inappropriate dual relationships. It is natural for professional helpers and clients to occasionally find themselves attracted to each other, especially considering the intimate nature of the clinical work they do together.

This is essential to protecting clients, as well as social workers. He is the author of many books and articles, and his research has addressed mental health, healthcare, criminal justice, and professional ethics.

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  1. Kajirn

    I confirm. It was and with me. We can communicate on this theme.


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