Boundary Violations

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Introduction As social workers create professional relationships with their clients, they should consider the potential risks of boundary crossing that may lead to dual relationships. Reamer (2003) claims that boundary issues occur when practitioners engage in more than one type relationship with their client, whether it be social, sexual, religious, or business. However, it is apparent, especially in rural settings, that dual relationships are sometimes unavoidable (Pugh, 2007). Because social workers may not be able to avoid dual relationships, it is fundamental that practitioners use good judgment consistent with modern ethical standards to prevent breaching boundaries with clients. It is essential that social workers comprehend how to…show more content…
Reamer (2003) lays out five central themes in dual relationships including intimate relationships, the pursuit of personal benefits, practitioners seeking to fulfill their own emotional and dependency needs, altruistic gestures, and unanticipated circumstances. Reviewing Case Study: Angel Z, illustrates some of these boundary crossings. Although the therapist in this case violated all of the dual relationship themes stated by Reamer, he explicitly violated three in particular: intimate relationships, emotional and dependency needs, and the expression of altruistic…show more content…
The therapist in Case Study: Angel Z. exhibited several altruistic gestures, beginning with calling Angel from his personal phone number and leaving her a message to call him back. Although the therapist’s intentions were to be available to Angel through all methods of communication and to further meet his minimum hours of direct-contact hours for the week, he entered into what Davidson (2005) calls an entangled relationship, in which social workers may be investing more of their time, emotional energy or favor in a particular relationship in order to meet their own emotional, social or physical needs, at the expense of the client (p. ). The therapist additionally violated boundary crossings through altruistic gestures by paying Angel and her friend $20 after washing his car. The practitioner believed Angel was trying to earn money in a healthy way; thereby supporting her in the activity was ethically acceptable. However, according to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), Code of Ethics, “1.13 Social workers should avoid accepting goods or services from clients as payment for professional services” (1999). Although not a direct form of barter, the ethical line of decision-making can become

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