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Identifying the Primary Client in Mental Health: Conflicts of Interest

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Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the NASW Code of Ethics But Were Afraid to Ask: What Truths the Code Reveals

I am frequently asked by students why I recommend a law-based system for decision makin in the mental health professions, including social work, psychology and counseling. The answer, without oversimplifying it, is that professional codes of ethics impart very limited … Continue reading

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Conversion Therapy: A Violation of Informed Consent

Much has been written in recent months about the California law enacted to place a ban on the use of “conversion therapy” as a pseudo-treatment to “change” the sexual orientation of gay people. The basis of the California law is … Continue reading

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Is substance abuse by a parent proof positive of child abuse or neglect?

This dilemma is inspired by a recent episode of the wonderful dramatic show “In Plain Sight”: In the show, divorcing parents with two school-aged children each accuse the other of abusing and neglecting their children. The husband, who is a … Continue reading

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Can misleading advertising violate informed consent?

Happy new year everyone! During a trip to Albuquerque recently as I was driving along the highway I noticed a billboard promoting a law office. The sign said, among other things, that the firm was “powerful.” If one considers the … Continue reading

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How far “to go” about a colleague’s unethical/unlawful behavior.

A well-known and standard ethics text offers the following scenario: A clinical social worker at a community mental health center has a caseload that includes clients who have been diagnosed with symptoms of schizophrenia and affective disorders. The social worker’s … Continue reading

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Managing a potential conflict of interest in mental health services

Consider this scenario: you are a direct service provider offering mental health counseling to individuals and families. A young woman and her mother visit your office seeking assistance with their personal relationship. You elect to assess them together during their … Continue reading

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Freedom of speech in school settings: A fundamental right

A story from today’s headlines reveals that a 16-year-old student has been banned by his Ohio school district from wearing a shirt with the insignia of a fish and the slogan “Jesus is Not a Homophobe.” The student’s explanation for wearing the … Continue reading

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Revisiting the duty to report suspected child abuse: another case scenario

It is truly remarkable how many standard ethics textbooks present fictional factual scenarios in which the reader is urged to read each scenario and make a decision about whether the facts are enough to warrant a report to a child protective service … Continue reading

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Legal issues in clinical supervision

As readers of this blog have noticed, I have presented a series of professional dilemmas derived from similar case scenarios in well-known ethics treatises. As with the other dilemmas I have presented, I wish to make the case that many … Continue reading

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