Preserving Professional Boundaries
To successfully complete this learning unit, you will be expected to:
Examine the impact of national and state laws on the practice of MFT, such as the legal duty to report clients who are a danger to self or others, and the duty to protect client confidentiality.
Analyze the therapist’s legal responsibilities in the treatment configuration; for example, in working with underage clients, couples, families, or larger systems.
Differentiate between state laws and professional ethical codes and demonstrate knowledge of how to respond when they differ.
Read the Bradley and Greenwood article, "Legal Concerns Regarding Impairment," from Family Therapy Magazine, volume 9, issue 4.
Marriage and family counselors may be called upon to perform various professional duties within the legal system. For example, a court may request the MFC/T to assist in court-appointed parental coordination for his or her clients. An MFC/T might also be asked to testify in a courtroom as an expert witness providing forensic assessment. Or, an MFC/T may be required to testify as a material witness in a case involving his or her clients.
A material witness is required to discuss specific information about real events. If a therapist is a material witness in a case involving his or her clients, some of this information may be protected by the boundaries of therapists-client privilege. This can pose a significant ethical and legal challenge for the professional therapist.
What are the boundaries of therapist-client confidentiality in your state? (Florida)
Regarding confidentiality, how do the ethical codes of your professional organization compare with the legal boundaries in your state? (Florida)
Find one discrepancy between your state (Florida) laws and the professional ethical codes for preserving patient confidentiality. How might this difference constitute a conflict?
How can the MFC/T legally protect the confidentiality of his or her clients, under this circumstance?
Respond to the posts of at least two of your peers. Describe specific strategies that MFC/Ts can use to maintain professional boundaries while interfacing with the legal system. You are encouraged to ask questions for clarification, respectfully debate points, and present additional information, as applicable. To demonstrate that you have completed your studies for this unit, include at least one relevant reference from the readings. Cite your reference(s) using APA format. Make sure that your responses are also in accordance with any of the established faculty expectations.