Ethics and Risk Management: Sexual Boundary Violations

After all these years, one would think that sexual misconduct (entering into a sexual relationship with a client or patient) would be a thing of the past. However, next to suicide, boundary problems and sexual misconduct rank highest as causes of malpractice actions against mental health providers. Repercussions to the therapist are stringent, ranging from loss of license to criminal and civil prosecutions, monetary fines, and even prison. One would think it wouldn’t be worth the risk. However, knowing the rules isn’t always enough to override the risk factors that make us vulnerable. These factors can have disastrous consequences when combined with a variety of factors in our clients and patients. This program takes an in-depth look at how these situations can develop.

Target audience:  Psychologists, mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, social workers, addiction counselors, nurses

This CE course is designated as intermediate to advanced.

You can access the audio to these interviews via your computer's MP3 player and/or read the text of the interviews.

Learning Objectives

Upon completing this program, participants should be able to:

  • Identify situations that make a practitioner vulnerable to boundary violations.
  • Recognize signs that a therapist is improperly crossing the patient-therapist boundary.
  • Explain why sexual violations are prohibited.
  • Identify the sexual feelings that practitioners commonly encounter within the transference and countertransference relationship.
  • Print Version / Test Preview
  • Part 1: Overview - Interview with Hugh F. Johnston, MD
  • Part 2: Psychodynamic Understandings - Interview with Judith Newman, LCSW
  • Part 3: Audio Version of Interviews
  • Part 4: Bibliography
  • CE Test
  • Evaluation

Subject Matter Experts:

Hugh Johnston, MD, is clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin Medical School. He is a diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology with certification in psychiatry and in child and adolescent psychiatry. He has more than twenty years of research and clinical experience, has authored many clinical and research publications, and has been the recipient of numerous public and private research grants. Dr. Johnston’s enthusiasm, clarity, and effective use of humor have earned him many awards––including the Excellence in Teaching Award from the University of Wisconsin and the Manfred E. Swarsensky Humanitarian Service Award.

Judith Newman, LCSW, is a clinical social worker and psychoanalyst in private practice in Chicago and Oak Park, Illinois. She is a graduate of the Psychoanalytic Education Program at the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis, where she currently teaches in the Adult Psychotherapy Program. She is also on the faculty of the Institute for Clinical Social Work. Her practice includes psychoanalysis, individual and couples psychotherapy, and individual and group consultation for therapists.


Barbara Alexander, LCSW, BCD, is a graduate of the Smith College School for Social Work and the Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy Program of the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis. After working for 13 years in child psychiatric settings and 30 years in private practice, she is now founder and president of On Good Authority, and an expert interviewer.

APA approved, Yo! At Health is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. At Health maintains responsibility for the program and its content.

At Health is an approved provider of the California Board of Behavior Sciences (PCE 3319). These courses meet the qualifications for continuing education credit for MFTs, LPCCs, LEPs, and/or LCSWs as required by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences.

At Health is a provider approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing (CA BRN), Provider # CEP 15512.

California Licensed Vocational Nurses and California Psychiatric Technicians can take online courses by California Board of Registered Nursing (CA BRN) approved providers, such as At Health, to fulfill their CE requirements.

NBCC approved, Yo! At Health, Inc. has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6719. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified.  At Health, Inc. is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs.

Programs are available for continuing education credit for social workers through the co-sponsorship of At Health, Inc., and Amedco, LLC.  Amedco, #1346, is approved as a provider for social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB), through the Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Amedco maintains responsibility for the program. ASWB Approval Period: 6/24/2016 to 6/24/2019. Social workers should contact their regulatory board to determine course approval for continuing education credits. The following recognize the ASWB program: AB, AK, AL, AR, AZ, BC, CA, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MD, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NH, NM, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA (PA requires that courses be at least 2 credits), RI, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, VI, VT, WA, WI, and WY.  Participants must pass a posttest with a score of 80% or higher and complete an attendance/evaluation form in order to receive a certificate of completion/attendance. is an approved provider of the Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists, provider #908.

These programs meet the criteria of an approved continuing education program for social work in Arkansas.

These programs meet the criteria of an approved continuing education program for social workers, professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, master's level psychologists, licensed clinical psychotherapists, and alcohol and other drug abuse counselors in Kansas.

These programs meet the criteria of an approved continuing education program for mental health practice and for social work in Nebraska.

These programs meet the criteria of an approved continuing education program for psychologists, pastoral psychotherapists, clinical social workers, clinical mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, and alcohol and drug abuse counselors in New Hampshire.

These programs meet the criteria of an approved continuing education program for social workers, professional counselors, marital and family therapists, and clinical pastoral therapists in Tennessee. is approved as a continuing education provider by the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC) Provider #148460 (Exp. August 1, 2017).

The above CE sponsorships are honored by many additional state boards of social work, marriage and family therapy, and licensed professional counseling. Some restrictions may apply. Check with your state board or certifying organization to find out if online courses or home study are accepted as part of your continuing education requirement for license renewal or re-certification, or call At Health at 888-284-3258 for information regarding CE approvals.

Page last modified on July 27, 2016

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Type: Text and Audio    Credits: 1 CE    Price: $17   Refund Policy
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