Ethical violations in counseling impact practices, practice owners, and the individuals seeking therapeutic support. Whether they mean to or not, when counselors breach ethical boundaries, they compromise trust, confidentiality, and client well-being. Rules and laws can change fast. That's why we all need an amazing attorney friend like Laurel Clement who is also a LPC Supervisor! Listen in today as she helps us understand the critical importance of upholding ethical standards to ensure the integrity and effectiveness of the counseling profession.
TCCBB #40 Mastering Mental Health Rules and Employment Laws with Laurel Clement
What are common ethical violations in counseling?
Ethical violations in counseling encompass a wide range of behaviors that compromise the well-being and trust of clients. Some of the most common questions we get in Texas Counselors Creating Badass Businesses are about professional wills, 1099 vs W2, and client records.
Common ethical violations in Texas include breach of confidentiality and dual relationships.
Breach of confidentiality is pretty self-explanatory. This is where counselors disclose confidential information without the client's informed consent or when it is not legally or ethically permissible. Equally egregious is engaging in dual relationships. This is where counselors establish multiple roles or relationships with clients. These relationships may impair their objectivity and professional judgment, and worse, harm their client.
Conflicts of interest are another ethical concern in counseling. This occurs when a counselor's personal, financial, or professional interests interfere with their ability to prioritize the client's best interests. Such conflicts can arise from accepting gifts or favors from clients, or engaging in business transactions with clients that have no benefit to the client (no you can't sell your client your kid's baseball fundraising candy).
It is crucial for counselors to be aware of these common ethical violations. It is our responsibility to actively uphold the ethical principles of our profession to maintain the integrity of the counseling process and protect our clients.
What are the new rules about LPC Associates in Texas?
Recently The Texas Behavioral Health Council changed the rules regarding LPC Associates and private practice. This impacted not only marketing and advertising, but also who is responsible for client records.
According to Texas Administrative Code RULE §681.91 (j) The possession, access, retention, control, maintenance, and destruction of client records is the responsibility of the person or entity that employs or contracts with the LPC Associate, or in those cases where the LPC Associate is self-employed, the responsibility of the LPC-Associate.
This means that supervisors must provide oversight of anything the LPC Associate could do that could become an ethical violation. And this isn't just for Associates who own their own practice!
LPC Associates who work in agencies where there is NOT a clear records custodian need guidance from their supervisor in order to protect the confidentiality of that protected health information.
What are examples of counseling mistakes?
While in theory this list could be much longer, here are 7 mistakes counselors make that can result in ethical violations.
- Lack of competence
- Violating boundaries
- Neglecting informed consent
- Breaching confidentiality
- Dual relationships
- Neglecting cultural competence
- Negligence in documentation
It is important for counselors to continually reflect on their practice. This means engaging in ongoing professional development to stay abreast of ethical standards. “I didn't know the rule,” is no excuse when it comes to avoiding these mistakes and ensuring the well-being of clients.
In our interview, LPC Supervisor and attorney Laurel Clement left no doubts about why counselors and counselor supervisors must constantly take steps to uphold their ethical standards. The consequences for ethical violations are dire. It's up to all of us to uphold and reinforce ethical standards in order to continually safeguard the trust, safety, and overall positive outcomes for individuals seeking counseling support.
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Blog post by Kate Walker Ph.D. LPC/LMFT Supervisor in Texas
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