“When in Doubt, Be Human”

The Ethics of the Therapeutic Relationship

Research has shown that the main factor leading to successful clinical outcomes is the therapeutic relationship. The primary tool we have toward developing that relationship is ourselves. The challenge is in deciding whether or how much of ourselves to bring to any given therapeutic moment. Karl Menninger said, “When in doubt be human.” How does that impact the discussion? We will watch entertaining and provocative film clips and also consider clinical examples followed by lively discussions about the insights and reactions raised. Relevant ethical codes will be discussed.


Compare and contrast boundary crossings and violations, including a discussion of self-disclosure and touch

Identify decision-making models for dual relationships

Understand how to manage terminations throughout the relationship

Discuss premature terminations, “failures” in therapy and what therapists can do to avoid them

Discuss implicit bias and steps therapists can take to reduce bias or at least the impact of bias

Understand that self-care is essential for ethical decision-making