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Course #: AL20
Ethics: Boundaries and Dual Relationships

Publication Date: 2005
Mary L. Caldwell, MA

Course Material and Test are Online

About the Author

Mary L. Caldwell, MA, is a native of western North Carolina. She attended UNC-Chapel Hill, received AB in Religion. She has a Masters of Divinity from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Masters of Arts in Philosophy with a concentration in Medical Ethics from University of Tennessee Knoxville, where she did extensive work in mental health ethics. She is a hospital chaplain, working for over ten years on a 49 bed in-patient psychiatric unit at Mission St. Joseph’s Health Care System in Asheville, NC. She works with children, adolescents, and adults in this setting. She has also done contract work with other psychiatric hospitals, (Highland Hospital, Appalachian Hall, and Charter) leading spirituality groups and worship services. She serves on the Ethics Committee at Mission St. Joseph’s as well as the Institutional Review Board.
She teaches adjunctively at local colleges and universities, including UNC-Asheville. She teaches ethics, medical ethics, and courses in Women’s Studies.


4 hours CE/clock hours
CE Approval Statements (APA, ASWB, NBCC, NAADAC, and state boards)

Mary Caldwell, MA

Ethical issues concerning boundaries and dual relationships are among the most complex and difficult for the mental health professional. Other than explicit prohibitions concerning sexual contact with clients, many of the boundary situations which arise are not easy to assess ethically. What constitutes a boundary violation in one situation may be ethically acceptable in a similar situation. This course seeks to guide therapists in sorting through boundary crossings, boundary violations, and dual relationships in order to discern what constitutes not only the highest standards for ethical behavior, but the highest standards for practice. Ethical theory and principles are included, with particular attention to virtue ethics. This course meets Florida requirements for Ethics of Boundary and Dual Relationship issues.

Learning Objectives

  1. understand ethical theory, ethical principles, and ethical process
  2. raise awareness of the nature of an ethical dilemma
  3. develop skills in identifying an ethical dilemma
  4. define and explain boundaries, both boundary crossings and boundary violations
  5. define and explain dual relationships (sometimes called multiple relationships)
  6. articulate ethical principles with regard to boundary and dual relationship issues
  7. discuss virtue theory as it applies to boundaries and dual relationships
  8. discern ethical dilemmas around boundaries and dual relationships
  9. think clearly to ethical resolution
  10. raise self-awareness concerning boundaries and dual relationships
  11. think through ethical responses to cases presented.

    Difficulty Level: Beginning to Intermediate

    Conflicts of Interest: No commercial support was received for this CE activity. The authors of this course have no conflicts of interest related to this CE activity.

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