Professional boundaries: An analysis of violations by social workers

Published on Oct 1, 1999in Families in society-The journal of contemporary social services
· DOI :10.1606/1044-3894.1473
Kimberly Strom-Gottfried8
Estimated H-index: 8
(UNC: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
The violation of professional boundaries represents the most troubling of ethics transgressions. Encompassing sexual activities, dual relationships, and poor clinical practices, this area includes not only clearly illegal or unethical behaviors, but also actions that may be unwise only in the context in which they occurred. This article presents the findings of a recent study that examined ethics complaints against social workers and revealed that 56.1% of the cases in which there were violations involved some form of boundary infraction. The body of literature on boundary violations is examined in light of these findings and recommendations are offered for enhancing practitioner education, supervision, and self-awareness to reduce the incidence of these ethics breaches.
  • References (20)
  • Citations (45)
📖 Papers frequently viewed together
48 Citations
107 Citations
228 Citations
78% of Scinapse members use related papers. After signing in, all features are FREE.
#1Srinika Jayaratne (UM: University of Michigan)H-Index: 22
#2Tom A. Croxton (UM: University of Michigan)H-Index: 6
Last. Debra Mattison (Mercy Medical Center (Baltimore, Maryland))H-Index: 3
view all 3 authors...
Professional standards of care establish the accepted or normative behavioral conduct of social workers in practice (NASW, 1993; National Association of Black Social Workers, 1980). According to Reamer (1995), "professionals are required to perform in a manner consistent with the 'standard of care' in the profession" (p. 595). Such standards are presumed to guide the day-to-day practice of social work as well as help practitioners when confronted with ethical dilemmas (Loewenberg & Dolgoff, 1988...
48 CitationsSource
There is a confluence of clinical error and ethical misconduct in the development of sexual boundary violations during psychotherapy. The study of such cases reveals a number of important lessons t...
68 CitationsSource
12 CitationsSource
#1Sharon K. Anderson (CSU: Colorado State University)H-Index: 7
#2Karen Strohm Kitchener (DU: University of Denver)H-Index: 17
44 CitationsSource
#1Frederic G. Reamer (RIC: Rhode Island College)H-Index: 23
Social workers, along with their colleagues in other professions, have become increasingly aware of malpractice risks. Rumors abound about professionals who have been named as defendants in both meritorious and frivolous lawsuits. The media regularly feature stories about client-plaintiffs and patient-plaintiffs who have been awarded substantial compensatory and punitive damages based on their claims of professional negligence. The phrase "litigious society" has become commonplace. Despite this ...
55 CitationsSource
When taken too far, certain well-intentioned ethical guidelines can become transformed into artificial boundaries that serve as destructive prohibitions and thereby undermine clinical effectiveness. Rigid roles and strict codified rules of conduct between therapist and client can obstruct a clinician's artistry. Those anxious conformists who go entirely by the book, and who live in constant fear of malpractice suits, are unlikely to prove significantly helpful to a broad array of clients. It is ...
83 CitationsSource
#1Jill Doner Kagle (UIUC: University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign)H-Index: 8
A professional enters into a dual relationship whenever he or she assumes a second role with a client, becoming social worker and friend, employer, teacher, business associate, family member, or sex partner. A practitioner can engage in a dual relationship whether the second relationship begins before, during, or after the social work relationship. Professionals who enter into dual relationships often rationalize their behavior, arguing that the situation is unique and that they are serving the ...
107 CitationsSource
#1Nanette Gartrell (UCSF: University of California, San Francisco)H-Index: 24
Lesbian therapists who are active participants in the lesbian community face unique challenges concerning the establishment of professional boundaries. Both the relatively small size of the community and the high incidence of informal contact between lesbian therapists and clients make boundary delineation difficult. This article describes strategies for managing self-disclosure, physical contact with clients, "special" treatment, and client gifts. It also discusses informal community contact wi...
21 CitationsSource
#1Larry H. Strasburger (Harvard University)H-Index: 9
#2Linda JorgensonH-Index: 6
Last. Pamela K. SutherlandH-Index: 4
view all 3 authors...
Sexual contact between psychotherapists and patients is unethical, exploitative, and harmful. It commonly begins through breaches of appropriate therapeutic boundaries. A preventive approach involv...
63 CitationsSource
56 CitationsSource
Cited By45
#1Edward John Magiste (CSU: Cleveland State University)
SummaryThis exploratory study examined the ethics violation data from one state’s licensing agency over a 28-year period, from 1985 through 2013. This study used descriptive statistics and chi-squa...
#1Jamie Cargill (University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust)H-Index: 2
Professional boundaries are central for the establishment of therapeutic relationships for all healthcare professionals yet notably essential for nursing when caring for adolescents and young adults with cancer (AYA). Yet do tensions exist between the balance of involvement that is beneficial in the therapeutic relationship and one that is too close and potentially destructive? Is this challenge a common occurrence in AYA nursing, where prolonged involvement, caring and intimacy form the basis f...
1 CitationsSource
#1Tammy Piché (Lakehead University)H-Index: 1
#2Keith Brownlee (Lakehead University)H-Index: 15
Last. Glenn Halverson (U of C: University of Calgary)H-Index: 3
view all 3 authors...
Mental health professionals who work in small, rural communities often have to contend with dual and multiple relationships. The more integrated service providers are within the community, the more likely they will encounter overlapping personal and professional relationships with clients. Although there is extensive literature on the potential risks of dual and multiple relationships, little empirical evidence exists which addresses the contextual factors that specifically lead to these relatio...
1 Citations
#1Gloria Kirwan (Trinity College, Dublin)H-Index: 6
#2Brian Melaugh (MU: Maynooth University)H-Index: 1
Prompted by the introduction of statutory social work registration into the Republic of Ireland, the authors consider the assumptions that attach to regulation, including the promise of greater public protection vis-a`-vis the management of misconduct issues by social work regulators. They ponder the paradoxical implications for the future of social work if, notwithstanding the arguments in favour of registration, social work fails to theorise and critically reflect on the prevention, interpreta...
8 CitationsSource
#1Kim W. Boland-Prom (Governors State University)H-Index: 2
#2Jean Johnson (Governors State University)H-Index: 1
Last. Gowri Shankar Gunaganti (Governors State University)H-Index: 1
view all 3 authors...
This article reports the results of a national study of social workers in the United States sanctioned by their state regulatory boards (N = 2,607) during the period 2000–2009. The purpose of this study was to identify the most frequent types of unprofessional conduct and common sanctioning patterns across state licensing boards. The highest incidences were found for unprofessional conduct including licensing-related problems (e.g., continuing education, working on a lapsed license); dual relati...
1 CitationsSource
1 CitationsSource
#1Ronald M. Ruggiero (Walden University)
Role conflict and Nonsexual Boundary Violations Among Correctional Officers by Ronald Ruggiero Dissertation Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy Human Service Walden University May 2014
#1Haylee Erin Spronk (St. Catherine University)
#1Efrosini KalyvaH-Index: 1
When mental health professionals and parents of children with autism spectrum disorders start working together, they bring into this relationship their own personal needs, concerns, priorities and responsibilities, which must be taken into consideration in order to create a mutually satisfactory and functional partnership. A partner is a person that one works with in order to achieve a common goal through shared decision-making and risk-taking. Some partnerships last for a short period of time a...
1 CitationsSource