Integrity in Psychotherapy and Psychiatry, Bottom Line Relevance

February 22, 2012

Into the Light

This weekend I attended a Saturday morning Ethics Program at the Dallas Center for Psychoanalysis, my old professional home. I remain a “geographic member” of the Center since I now live in Chicago.

The focus of the morning’s panel presentation and small group discussion was “Minor Crimes and Misdemeanors” stressing the everyday breaches of optimal ethical functioning of us analysts/therapists. This included phenomena such as the analyst eating lunch or checking emails while in session with the client. While these are awful enough we did not focus on the less common but more terrible acts such as sexual relations with patients or taking financial advantage of them.

Why is this a relevant topic in CLPConsultingBlog? I have written of this matter in an earlier posting  that was essentially lifted from a section of my book, Starting and Growing Concierge Psychotherapy and Psychiatry Practices.  In those pieces my point was that acting unethically – and being caught at it – will cost you tremendously in time and money. This notion is most apparent in the grosser abuses than the relatively minor lapses covered this weekend.

My old Dallas colleagues learned the importance of tackling ethics issues the hard way. Ten years ago or so we were considered a “sick” institute by our national organization due to a batch of egregious ethical violations committed by leading figures of our group. The successful handling of these problems left a heightened awareness the need for ongoing discussion of the topic – in stark contrast to a leading figure in another analytic society of which I have some intimate knowledge who said to me as I began my affiliation there, “Oh, we don’t have those kind of problems here.” It is this bland denial and lack of constant vigilance – seen in my old home group – that is truly worrisome.

As I wrote earlier gross ethics violations can kill your business. But even the less grotesque instances of ethical lapses, unrecognized and left unrepaired can spoil a treatment. We want each client to receive excellent care, causing them to readily send business our way when appropriate. The lack of vigilance for minor lapses, according to opinions in the papers presented and discussed this weekend, will lead to stalemated treatments. I want your clientele to get what they need from you then tell others about their great outcome. Otherwise we lose business and give our profession a black eye.

Please tell me what you think. Go back to the top of this piece and leave a comment.


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