Tag Archives: boundaries

“I’m friends with a Counsellor, I’ll ask them and get back to you.” aka Being That Friend

Posted by: Robyn Steinke, MC, CCC on May 13, 2019 10:07 am

Without hearing the title sentence spoken verbatim, I think we as counsellors have all been in a situation where we have been asked very specific questions with very specific details for the sake of a friend of a friend and their mental well-being. It is a difficult spot to be in. So difficult that, what we as counsellors do about it, goes back to Watergate, you know, the thing that made Richard Nixon (“Tricky Dicky” if you will) resign his presidency. More specifically, the “Goldwater Rule” is the informal name given to the American Psychological Association’s guideline that it is unethical for a psychologist to offer a diagnosis in the media of a living public figure they have not examined (American Psychological Association, 2003). How Nixon gets involved is during his presidential candidacy and also during the era of Watergate numerous psychologists and psychiatrists publicly diagnosed Nixon without ever setting clinical eyes on him.

So, what does this have to do with getting asked a counselling-type question for a friend of a friend? Simply, I think the Goldwater Rule should be extended to any living person a counselling therapist has not clinically assessed. Setting boundaries is crucial to not finding ourselves behaving unethically. My friends are getting pretty used to hearing me say, “Well I can’t actually evaluate this person, and if I had, I wouldn’t be able to tell you, but maybe there’s some general information about _____ I can give you?” I can tell by their facial expressions that I am probably not giving them everything they want from me, but I am bound by our code. As a Canadian Certified Counsellor (C.C.C.), I mentally sneak the Goldwater Rule into the sections pertaining to confidentiality, evaluation, and assessment.

There is a plethora of different situations where the maintenance of this boundary is crucial for family, friendships, relationships, parenting, and it goes on. Truth be told, sometimes the hard part of this boundary is not enforcing it with others, but with ourselves when a clinical insight springs to mind mid-dinner, conversation, observation, minding a friend’s child, and the list goes on. Times like this lead me to question the boundary between being my personal and professional self. Often what comes is the type of self-care that gives me release and the ability to “shake off” the sense of murkiness that inevitably comes. While we all likely have a great prepared statement to help us immediately get out of these situations, we will continue to be challenged by the questions, concerns, and care of others close to us. I wish us all grace through these challenges.

American Psychological Association. (2003). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct. Retrieved from: https://www.apa.org/ethics/code/

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Does Touch Have a Culture?

Posted by: Priya Senroy on November 14, 2012 3:44 pm

I  thought I made  an error of judgment  when I consoled a grieving, inconsolable client by touching her on her knees…..I had an urge to give her a hug —–knowing full well that I was feeling strong transference….but I caught on  when my right brain kicked in….and offered tissues   instead….Coming from a culture where it is okay to show how you feel by touching-appropriately off course, is not a taboo …..to being told by my child’s  kindergarten teacher about the policy of no touch is taking a lot of shifting of gears in my head both personally and professionally—-personally won’t my children grow up all warped and unsure about when  it is okay( and who)  and when  it is not okay to touch…….professionally , having to constantly telling myself and reminding my clients why they cannot give me a hug when they are happy or why I can’t hold their hand when they are crying, is, I think is acting as a barrier  for me from making genuine connections with the clients when it is needed….I know the boundaries and the  ethics and all in between, what’s  acceptable and what’s not…but the  conflict always remains, I always feel that something is missing, something just did not ’hit the spot’ and I am wondering if I am feeling like that what about my clients….I am sure there are many studies, articles and ethics which suggest the pros and cons of touching and having have read a number of those, I would like to recommend reading-To Touch Or Not To Touch: Exploring the Myth of Prohibition On Touch In Psychotherapy And Counseling-Clinical, Ethical & Legal Considerations By Ofer Zur, Ph.D. & Nola Nordmarken, MFT .The article can be found on http://www.zurinstitute.com/touchintherapy.html. The purpose of this blog s not to dispute why should or shouldn’t touch be used in counseling or therapy but more as a discussion question being posed to other practitioners who find themselves in similar conflict as I do and ask the question: Does Touch have a culture?

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Parental Expressions of Love and Affection

Posted by: Asa Don Brown on May 8, 2012 5:03 pm












 Love means not ever having to say you’re sorry.
                                                                                                          ~ Erich Segal

 As parents, we may recall our own parent’s physical and verbal expressions of affection.  Becoming parents changes our perceptional lenses, shifting our previous views and expressions of affection.   As a parent, we are looking through a lens of discovery evaluating what is appropriate and what is inappropriate.  How do we determine what is appropriate or inappropriate? Who’s to say that my perceptions of affection are correct, while your perceptions are incorrect?    Should there be standards for gauging various forms and degrees of affection?

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA