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622 | What Do I Do Now? Counseling Ethically When You Are Sexually Attracted to a Client

Ethics and Practice Management: Advocacy, Policy, and Counselor Education, Saturday 9/16 8:45 – 10:00 AM, Workshop Tracks


James Dalton Ph.D.; Mike Cravens, Ed.D.



Approved For CE

Licensed Professional Counselors, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Chemical Dependency Counselors, Pastors, Pastoral Counselors, Lay Counselors, Coaches

Approved For CME/CEU

Medical Doctors, Osteopathic Doctors, Physicians Assistants, Midwives, Nurses and Nurse Practitioners




Approximately 70% of mental health professionals have experienced sexual attraction toward a client, and around 3% have had a sexual relationship with a client. Given the nature of counseling, perhaps it is surprising that sexual relationships do not occur even more frequently with licensed mental health professionals, medical professionals, and ministry leaders! Most training programs and continuing education on ethics prohibit sexual relationships with clients but otherwise avoid the topic of sexual attraction. Yet, state licensing boards and liability insurance companies continue to face violations of sexual relationships with clients. Given the prevalence of sexual attraction and the potential damage of sexual relationships to the client, counselor, and profession, the counseling profession should more diligently prepare psychologists and counselors to address sexual attraction in counseling relationships ethically. This workshop will be delivered by experienced licensed counselors who have served on state licensing boards and are counselor educators. The presentation will be based on ethical guidelines, the research conducted in this area, and experience. Participants will be introduced to practical suggestions to reduce the risk of harm when attraction occurs while ensuring effective care is provided.

Learning Objectives

1. Explain current research findings to colleagues and peers related to sexual attraction in counseling
2. Identify and apply ethical guidelines when sexual attraction occurs in counseling to maintain ethical practice
3. Describe practical steps to implement within a counseling practice to safeguard from the pitfalls of attraction
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