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Ethical Dilemmas Related to Disclosure Issues: Sex Addiction Therapists in the Trenches

NCJ Number
Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity Volume: 13 Issue: 1 Dated: 2006 Pages: 1-39
Jennifer P. Schneider; Barbara Levinson
Date Published
39 pages
This article addresses types of ethical dilemmas faced by sex-addiction therapists related to disclosures by the patient, the therapist, or a third party.
The article identifies ethical issues in situations likely to be encountered when the information originates with the client, a third party, or the therapist. Five of the situations pertain to information that originates with the client. In one situation a client in couples' counseling discloses to the therapist an affair or another secret not known to the partner. In a second situation, a client discloses behavior that has harmed or may harm another person. In a third situation, a client discloses illegal behavior. A fourth situation involves a client disclosing boundary violations with a therapist seen previously; and in the fifth situation described, a family member requests information about a former client who is deceased. Two of the ethical dilemmas portrayed pertain to information that originates with a third party (another client, another therapist, a police official, etc.). In one situation discussed, third-party information indicates the client is lying. In the second situation, the third party indicates the client is at risk of harming others. Regarding the disclosure of information that originates with the therapist, three ethical situations are discussed: the therapist's beliefs (politics, ethics, etc.); the therapist's own addiction history; and the therapist's sexual orientation. For each of the aforementioned situations, the author raises ethical questions that derive from the situation posed. Actual case examples of each situation are provided, along with a broad range of possible solutions and their potential positive or negative outcomes. The authors offer their opinions based on their own research and clinical practice. Other therapists also provide input based on their experiences. 1 table and 29 references


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