Questions below are from the NASW Specialty Practice Sections live webinar on ethics.
Common Ethical Mistakes Made in Private Practice: A Focus on Areas Requiring Closer Attention for Even the Most Experienced Practitioners
March 7, 2012
Q: Isn’t it breaking the husband’s confidentiality by telling the wife you can’t see her because you are seeing him individually?
A: Yes, it would be breaking the husband’s confidentiality to tell the wife that he is a client. This dilemma supports the need to avoid such a conflict of interest.
Q: What if you find out after you start therapy with a new client that he/she is a friend of family member of a current client?
A: Once you become aware of a conflict of interest, you have an ethical obligation to address that conflict by making a referral as appropriate.
Q: What if a client is involved in divorce proceedings, and asks for a copy of his or her records, then asks you to change something in a progress note?
A: According to the NASW Code of Ethics, standard 3.04 Client Records, documentation should be accurate and reflect the services provided and therefore should not require the need to change information. Changing records could be seen as dishonesty or deception which would violate 4.04 Dishonesty, Fraud and Deception. If a client is concerned about information in a record, according to 1.08 Access to Records, social workers should assist in interpreting records and provide consultation with clients regarding their records when necessary. It is also possible to include additional documentation to clarify a client’s concern.