When it comes to navigating ethical issues as a therapist, most of us like to think we have a pretty good handle on what’s good ethical practice.
But the data says otherwise.
We have all heard of stories of colleagues who have breached ethical guidelines, or have had complaints made against them. And still our professional associations regularly receive complaints relating to a breach of ethics or worse, sexual transgressions between client and therapist.
On top of that, it appears our professional associations in Australia aren’t keeping up with the development of technology and social media. So Australian therapists are left to make their own guidelines when it comes to interacting with clients online and on social media.
So we spoke to ethics expert Dr Elizabeth Riley, who is the Ethics Chair of the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA) about some of the most common ethical dilemmas that therapists face today.
In this interview, Dr Elizabeth Riley discusses:
- the most common ethical issues she sees in new therapists
- the most common ethical issues she sees in experienced therapists
- why we still have cases of therapists involved in sexual transgressions with clients
- what are the signs that a therapist may be grappling with an ethical issue?
- what she recommends be the first step for a therapist experiencing an ethical dilemma
- what an Australian therapist should do if they have a complaint made against them
- how can a therapist decide what is ethical behaviour online if the professional associations haven’t created a code of ethics in this area
- the ethical issues related to the delivery of online counselling and therapy
- her thoughts on the state Australian ethics and where we will go in the future
Links and resources mentioned in this episode:
- Ethical Framework for the Use of Technology in Mental Health – Online Therapy Institute
- Social Media Policy – framework for use by therapists by Dr Keely Kolmes
- PlusGuidance – secure alternative to Skype for the delivery of online therapy
- PACFA Code of Ethics
- CAPA NSW Code of Ethics
- Peoplesmart.net.au – website of Dr Elizabeth Riley
About Dr Elizabeth Riley
Dr Elizabeth Anne Riley is a Sydney-based counsellor and clinical supervisor specialising in gender identity. Elizabeth has a Bachelors in Science, a Masters in Counselling and a PhD titled ‘The needs of gender v
ariant children and their parents’. Elizabeth has published and presented papers and workshops, both locally and internationally, in the areas of Gender Identity, Ethics & Supervision.
Elizabeth was a counsellor for 10 years for the Ethics Centre where she also provided counselling training in Ethical Decision-making for new counsellors and delivered the Ethics Centre’s Ethical Intelligent and Good Decision-Making program to company managers. Elizabeth is the Ethics Chair of the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA) and also a member of the Counsellors & Psychotherapy Association of NSW (CAPA), the Society for Counselling & Psychotherapy Educators (SCAPE) and the Australian and World Professional Associations for Transgender Health (ANZPATH & WPATH). Find out more about Dr Elizabeth Riley at www.peoplesmart.com.au
Listen to the audio with the player at the top of this post, or listen on SoundCloud, Stitcher Radio, or subscribe in iTunes.