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Setting Clear and Ethical Boundaries with Clients

Section 2

Question 2 | Test | Table of Contents

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Next let's look at acceptance and how it affects the setting of ethical boundaries. As you know, acceptance involves recognition of the uniqueness of your client. The genuineness of acceptance and concern for the client is a vital ingredient in the development of boundaries.

♦ Blurring Acceptance with Liking or Approving
Obviously acceptance is not "liking" or "approving" of the client's behavior. When you find yourself thinking "I cannot accept the child rapist" for example, you may be blurring acceptance with liking or approving. We accept the reality of the individual's situation, but in acceptance you do not judge the client as being right or wrong, or good or bad, it's just a fact of what happened.

Here's an example I recently ran into in the court system of judging based upon personal values. A custody judge had to make a decision in which both parents had died in a car accident. The six-year-old girl had to be placed with a family member. The judge made a decision against the low socio-economic family for the child custody case, calling the family seeking custody the kind of family that had priscilla curtains in the window. The implication in the judge's voice of "priscilla curtains" was that they were cheap and tacky. Thus, the message was given that the family was not capable of loving and providing a good home life for the child because they were poor.

The self-assessment point to be made here is as follows: Do I find myself not accepting my client's actions or situations? Do I end up not accepting the client and judging them?

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Jungwirth, J., & Walsh, R. (2020). Ethics and imagination in psychological practice. The Humanistic Psychologist.

Pinner, D. H., & Kivlighan, D. M. III. (2018). The ethical implications and utility of routine outcome monitoring in determining boundaries of competence in practice. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 49(4), 247–254.

Schoendorff, B., & Steinwachs, J. (2012). Using Functional Analytic Therapy to train therapists in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, a conceptual and practical framework. International Journal of Behavioral Consultation and Therapy, 7(2-3), 135–137.

Twohig, M. P., Ong, C. W., Krafft, J., Barney, J. L., & Levin, M. E. (2019). Starting off on the right foot in acceptance and commitment therapy. Psychotherapy, 56(1), 16–20.

The boundary of acceptance is not to be confused with what? To select and enter your answer go to Test.

Section 3
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