This book delves into risks that can easily bedevil any psychotherapist and what can happen if they are ignored. Dramatic storytelling, based on actual incidents from the author's experiences as a member of ethics committees and as an ethics teacher and consultant, explores actions prompting clients to issue formal complaints. Set in the context of an ethics committee meeting over the course of a weekend, twelve psychologists face their peers who will stand in judgment. Issues include the fallout from losing one's temper with a difficult client, a personal disclosure gone terribly wrong, a bartering arrangement that literally falls apart, a private life revealed in a most public way, a vengeful act that sullies the reputation of an entire department, breaking confidentiality when a client threatened harm, and the slippery slope to sexual exploitation.
The stories are absorbing, enlightening, sometimes shocking, and often stranger than fiction. Narrative nonfiction puts human faces and emotions on what would otherwise be cursory statistics. What led to the formal complaint from both the vantage point of the complainant and the psychologist offers insights not otherwise available unless the dynamics of their private lives leading up to the conflict are revealed. An author's commentary and discussion questions follow every story. Both new and seasoned practitioners, as well as those still in training, will find this to be an invaluable resource.
Patricia Keith-Spiegel, PhD, is the Voran Honors Distinguished Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences Emerita at Ball State University, where she was the director of the Center for Teaching Integrity. She was a member of the Ethics Committee of the California State Psychological Association and served six years (two terms as Chair) of the Ethics Committee of the American Psychological Association.