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Ethics And Boundary Issues

Author: Heidi Dalzell, PhD, Teresa Crowe, MSW, PhD, and Beth Russell, PhD
(Click author's name for bio)

Course Created: 2020

Practice Level: Intermediate

No book to buy Duration: 5 hours
4.5 out of 5.0, Based on: 146,413 reviews

Course Summary

This free intermediate-level course provides information on ethics and professional boundaries for mental health professionals.  Updated to reflect the most current professional codes of ethics (NASW, APA, NBCC, ACA and AMHCA), the course explores common ethical dilemmas. Special attention is paid to boundary violations and topics including informed consent, confidentiality, mandated reporting, and HIPAA. Case studies through out the learning materials highlight key learning points.

Course Format

This course contains downloadable online lessons (PDF) and a practice test. When you're ready, purchase the course by clicking the "Add To Cart" button. This will let you take the test, complete the course evaluation and receive your certificate for CE credits.

Learning Objectives

  • Recognize common ethical dilemmas, the link between ethical and legal issues, and how ethical problems occur.
  • Explain the major ethical principles of mental and behavioral health professionals.
  • Discuss confidentiality and limits of confidentiality in varied contexts including social media, age of consent, mandated reporting, and HIPAA.
  • Identify ethical issues related to public representations (advertising).
  • Describe the Tarasoff and Ewing rulings related to the professional duty to protect.
  • Explain the significance of competence and the steps a provider should take to maintain competence.
  • Discuss informed consent in relation to ethics and boundaries.
  • Identify the dynamics of dual relationships and the ethical violations related to sexual relationships with clients.
  • Recognize the role of ethical practice in the context of involuntary treatment.
  • Describe ethical decision-making including such important considerations as risk tolerance, cultural humility, and specific decision-making models.

Course Syllabus

  • Introduction
  • Professional Codes of  Ethics   
    • Ethics vs Law
    • Ethical Principles
  • Confidentiality
    • Social Media and Confidentiality
    • Confidentiality and Minors (Age of Consent)
    • Mandated Reporting
    • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
  • Public Representations (Advertising)
  • Duty to Protect (Tarasoff and Ewing)
  • Achieving and Maintaining Competence -Cultural Competence and Non-Discrimination in Providing Services
  • Informed Consent
  • Multiple or Non-sexual Dual Relationships
    • Case Example
    • Giving and Receiving Gifts
    • Bartering in Psychotherapy Practice
    • Business Relationships with Former
    • Unintentional Dual Relationships
    • Friendships with Former Clients
    • Physical Contact with Clients
    • Online Relationships
    • Client Role in Multiple Relationships
    • Therapist Consequences for Boundary Violations
  • Sexual Relationships with Clients
    • Consequences to the Therapist of Sexual Boundary Violations
    • Consequences to the Client of Sexual Boundary Violations
  • Involuntary Treatment
  • Ethical Decision-Making
    • Types of Ethical Dilemmas
    • Risk Tolerance
    • Cultural Humility - A Framework for Understanding Ethics
    • Decision-Making Models
    • Avoiding Common Ethical Pitfalls and Dilemmas
  • Summary
  •, provider #1115, is approved as an ACE provider to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Regulatory boards are the final authority on courses accepted for continuing education credit. ACE provider approval period: 07/08/21-07/08/24. Social workers completing this course will receive continuing education credit hours.

We are committed to providing our learners with unbiased information. Ce4Less never accepts commercial support and our authors have no significant financial or other conflicts of interest pertaining to the material.

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