Class 2: Ethics in FT

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identified patient

  • the individual in the family that has been identified by the family as the “source” of the conflict. The “reason” for coming in to family therapy. This role will do as much as they need to do to get the family in to therapy.

parallel play

-Whitaker book

  • idea of two kinds in a sandbox, constantly looking at each others’ sand creations and adjusting their own based on the creation of the other kid.
  • symbolic experiential FT

purpose of a genogram

  • Purpose: we’re an investigator trying to get as much of the family tree as possible
  • Can serve a therapeutic purpose and be completed in session with the client à client should be able to see the structure / diagram that is coming out
  • Can help reveal certain patterns or reveal information to the client or for the counselor


  • Element of morality attached
  • Tends to have more grey area
  • Applies to a particular group or community-- Applied equally to each individual to which it applies


  • Doesn’t necessarily contain an element of morality or ethical action
  • Tends to be more black and white or cut and dry
  • Applied to everyone—not necessarily applied to everyone equally, though (rich v poor, race, etc

Where may things get dicey when working with families?

  • Confidentiality
    • family members discussing the content of session with non-family members
    • counselors who know “privileged” information from one client that the rest of the family doesn’t know
  • managing goals of tx, perceptions, moral compasses
  • dual relationships

What do you do if you have an intervention that will benefit the identified patient but might cause harm to the rest of the family?

  • What is the harm? Will it last? The definition of the harm is important
  • Who is the client? The entire family is the client, in truth. However, when insurance is involved, you might bill differently. Depends on the perspective

Ethics definition

discipline relating to right and wrong, moral duty and obligation, moral principles, and values, and moral character


AAMFT code of ethics

professional code of ethics for American association for marriage and family therapy. Most recently revised in 2015


When can confidentiality be breached?

  • mandated reporting things
  • Duty to warn