Ethical issues with counselors dating clients
Handon, BSW, MSA, LSW Many professionals enter into the field of social work to help others grow and improve their life circumstances.Yet, when working with clients, social workers must maintain clear boundaries to assure professional integrity and responsibility.It is primarily a concern about boundary violations” (p. Boundaries are “the limits that allow for a safe connection based on the client’s needs” (Peterson, 1992, p. Yet, in retrospect, Reamer (2003) suggested that boundary violations and boundary crossings have to be examined in the context of the behavioral effects the behavior has caused for either the social worker or client.
In some instances, workers have been imprisoned for misconduct for violation of confidentiality, falsification in record-keeping, malfeasance, and so forth.
In some instances, it may be a labor relations matter, or a training or coaching issue between the worker and supervisor.
There have been two distinct incidents in my career in which it was determined, following an internal investigation, that two different workers had grossly violated boundaries in the client/worker relationship.
In child welfare, immediate supervisors must play a vital role in modeling, coaching, and engaging in frequent discussions with workers on topical issues of client engagement, rapport-building, and assurance of proper boundaries in the worker and client relationship.
Social work schools, child welfare training, and other continuing education programs also have a responsibility in providing education and information on the management of client relationships and examination of ongoing ethical issues.