NP0017 Handling Today's Hidden Ethical Dilemmas

This blog focuses on discussion regarding the course NP0017 Handling Today's Hidden Ethical Dilemmas.

NP0017, Ethics, Session 1, Mary Jo Barrett


Welcome to New Perspectives on Practice: Handling Today’s Hidden Ethical Dilemmas. This practical and thought-provoking series with leading experts on ethical practice will explore current ethical guidelines for therapists. The first session with Mary Jo Barrett will delve into how to reconcile boundary maintenance and will cover why peer supervision and consultation are vital to ethical therapy, plus many issues that are consistently confusing for clinicians.

After each session, there will be Comment Boards available as a way for participants to share what was most interesting or relevant from the sessions, and to ask questions of the presenters and of each other. We invite you to utilize these Comment Boards as a forum for thought and discussion after each session and after completing the course.

What was most striking about this session with Mary Jo Barrett? Do you have any similar, relevant experiences? Did this bring up any questions for you? Thanks so much for your participation, and welcome to this important and lively series! If you have any technical questions or issues, please feel free to email support@psychotherapynetworker.org.

03.05.2012   Posted In: NP0017 Handling Today's Hidden Ethical Dilemmas   By Psychotherapy Networker
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  • 0.1 avatar Lisa Baroni 03.05.2012 15:04
    I particularly enjoyed the emphasis on collaborative conversation about boundary issues. "How shall we handle....In my experience what works best is...." etc. are questions that DO express care and respect for clients. Just bringing any of the issues around therapeutic structure into conversation is experienced by clients as tremendously empowering and respectful, and in my own practice, I have received useful feedback in this regard. Documenting that the process has occurred lets me breathe a sigh or relief, of course, but is most useful because the result seems to be that having set up a context where dicey things can and should be brought up, seems to serve as a catalyst for the work.
    I was a bit nervous to hear about MJ's use of touch, but again, can see the possibility in discussing that as part of the therapeutic frame.
    This was a very useful presentation. Thank you.
  • 0 avatar Jeannie Bertoli 03.08.2012 18:08
    One of the things I got out of this was how MJ handles things in a way that is considered versus standards for ethics in those situations presented. While I do some things similarly and some things not, I feel it's important for us to continually have a discussion of when we are nearing or crossing a line. I am sure she could have addressed that, from her perspective, but what about when we disagree on those matters. Those of us with advanced degrees and years and decades of experience - well who is right? Where can we collaborate and agree? What do we do when we don't?
  • 0 avatar Amanda Westmoreland 03.11.2012 16:00
    Mary Jo, where were you when I started graduate school?!!! You seriously spoke to me in a way that I could understand and relate to and I found myself wishing I had heard this conversation in 2006 when I began my journey as an aspiring LMFT. I came from a very collaborative program (Harlene Anderson came to visit my school) and I was overwhelmed and intrigued by this concept. Your idea of "collaborative acknowledgment" was a much better fit for me. I'm struggling right now as I reflect on the major errors I made as a young therapist (in practicum and in my 1st job as an in-home therapist at a non-profit agency), but I'm seeing some hope through the dialogue you and the networker are providing. THANK YOU!!!
  • Not available avatar Harry Aponte 07.24.2012 15:16
    Mary Jo Barrett wrote an excellent piece, speaking to the real-life complexity of ethical dilemmas and the wisdom of not going it alone. I’d like to point to another dimension of the real-life complexity to dealing with boundaries, which has to do with the person who is conducting the therapy. In speaking to recognizing and respecting boundaries in ways that are also therapeutic, it behooves us to be unsparingly candid with ourselves about our human vulnerabilities when it comes to relationships, including our client-therapist relationships. We all live with those vulnerabilities, no matter how well integrated or “evolved” we may think we are. In the intimacy of the therapeutic relationship those vulnerabilities bear watching and careful shepherding so that they not only not hurt our clients, but that they be managed in ways that may even contribute to the effectiveness of our work, such as how their being triggered can serve as an alarm about what may be happening with our client in our relationship with the client. In terms of how we can help ourselves in this task, for one, as suggested by Mary Jo, it’s to our advantage to have others share with us their insights about us and our dilemmas, especially if we are prepared to share with them something of our personal contributions to our professional dilemmas. Secondly, it also really helps for us to accept the reality of our personal human woundedness, and factor in that self-awareness into our examinations of our side of the boundary dynamic in therapy. The relationship in therapy is a two-way deal, and we need to monitor continuously the human factor on both sides of that core dynamic of the therapeutic process.
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