#55 Dr. Frederic Reamer on Boundary Issues and Dual Relationships in Social Work Practice

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Dr. Frederic Reamer is a Professor in the School of Social Work at Rhode Island College for over 30 years. He received his PhD from the University of Chicago and has served as a social worker in correctional and mental health settings. Dr. Reamer chaired the national task force that wrote the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics adopted in 1996 and recently participated in drafting new Technology Standards added to the code in 2017. Dr. Reamer lectures both nationally and internationally on the subjects of professional ethics and professional malpractice and liability. He has conducted extensive research on professional ethics and has been involved in several national research projects sponsored by The Hastings Center, Carnegie Corporation, Haas Foundation, and Center for Bioethics of the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Reamer is the author of many books, including: Boundary Issues and Dual Relationships in the Human Services; Risk Management in Social Work: Preventing Professional Malpractice, Liability, and Disciplinary Action; The Social Work Ethics Audit: A Risk Management Tool and On the Parole Board: Reflections on Crime, Punishment, Redemption, and Justice; Ethics and Risk Management in Online and Distance Social Work; and his latest, Moral Distress and Injury in Human Services, among others. Dr. Reamer’s journal article Ethical Standards for Social Workers' Use of Technology: Emerging Consensus is the most comprehensive discussion of recently adopted regulatory, ethics, and practice standards to date.

Dual Relationships and Boundary Crossings: Social workers often encounter circumstances that pose actual or potential boundary issues where they may face conflicts of interest in the form of dual relationships. Dual relationships occur when social workers engage with clients or colleagues in more than one relationship outside of their professional relationship such as participating in business, sexual, social or religious activities. Some dual relationships are unethical (for example, when social workers exploit clients), and some are not (unintended encounters outside therapy). Further, some dual relationships are avoidable, and some are not (for example, when social workers and clients live in small or rural communities).

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Disclaimer: The information shared in this podcast is not a substitute for getting help from a mental health professional.

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