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Boundaries, Power and Ethical Responsibility in Counselling and Psychotherapy

Boundaries, Power and Ethical Responsibility in Counselling and Psychotherapy

First Edition

June 2017 | 184 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
The boundaries of the therapeutic relationship are a crucial part of effective therapy. Yet, understanding them, and the effects of power and responsibility, can be intimidating to trainee or newly-qualified therapists. This book will take step-by-step through everything they need to know to work ethically and safeguard the well-being of both themselves and their clients.

It tackles:
  • Contracting and the importance of negotiating and clarifying boundaries with clients
  • The implications and limits of maintaining confidentiality
  • Keeping clear sexual boundaries, and how to work around issues safely and appropriately
  • What happens when circumstances change, and every day or serious disruptions occur to therapy
  • The nature of the therapist’s power, and how to employ it responsibly to a client’s benefit

Packed with case studies, ethical dilemmas and points for reflection and discussion, this is an essential read for trainee practitioners and qualified therapists looking to ensure safe and ethical practice.

What are Boundaries?
Defining Ethics, Power and Responsibility
Setting out Together: Contracting
Holding Confidentiality
Navigating Dual Relationships
Keeping Clear and Safe Sexual Boundaries
Saying Goodbye: Therapeutic and Ethical Endings
Repairing Ruptures and Attending to Difficulties
Client-led Ruptures
Boundaries and Good Practice in Action

This book draws attention to complex areas in counselling and psychotherapy that are difficult to manage.  In clear steps, Kirsten Amis guides us through the maze of ethics, boundaries and power.  Her common-sense wisdom shines through the text in a way that will enhance the practice of any therapist that takes it to heart. This is a great book for students and practitioners alike.


Professor Alistair Ross
Director of Psychodynamic Studies, Oxford University

This book addresses issues that are critical for the development of sound and ethical counselling practice. It challenges the trainee counsellor to think through numerous scenarios that could occur in any practice. It is well organised in relevant chapters and would be a stimulating read for a voracious learner.

Emeritus Professor Sue Wheeler
University of Leicester

This is a valuable addition to current literature and will be useful and informative to those new to counselling and to experienced practitioners. Her style is accessible and the book is both comprehensive and concise at the same time – not an easy accomplishment. 

Sheila M. Hamilton
Counsellor, Registered Member MBACP, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, UHI

Kirsten’s accessible writing style offers a concise guide, full of key information and points for reflection in relation to the ethical responsibility counsellors have within their work. A comprehensive guide to the ethical dilemmas which can arise within the collaborative therapeutic relationship, this book provides a real sense of the need to explicitly define boundaries and respect confidentiality. It is a must-read for all counsellors!

Allie Scott
COSCA Tutor and Student Support & Counselling Team Leader, Perth College, University of the Highlands & Islands

Boundaries, power and ethical responsibilities are key issues for all counsellors. This is a clear, well-written and comprehensive guide, brought to life with relevant examples. It draws from several professional ethical guidelines, and also covers how ethical considerations can vary according to theoretical orientation. The inclusion of diagrams aids understanding. This book will provide an invaluable resource to practising counsellors, trainers and students alike.

Jill Whitfield
Student Counsellor & COSCA Tutor, Perth College UHI

Fantastic read. A book that fosters great discussions on boundaries and power.

Ms Edna Ogundare
Counselling and Psychology, City Lit
June 8, 2022

This book provides a concise guide to thinking about ethical dilemmas
Drawing from different ethical frameworks, it addresses key current issues that may be present in clinical practice. Through examples, the author highlights the importance of ethical practice. An invaluable book for trainee counsellors, it reinforces ethical responsibility in clinical practice.

Mrs Ana Paula Wellbrook
Counselling and Psychology, City Lit
October 25, 2021

A clear and well-structured introduction to ethical issues in counselling, with good use of case studies throughout to help illustrate points made. Recommended for students of introductory counselling courses.

Mrs Suzi Smale
Psychology, Petroc College
July 3, 2017

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1: What are Boundaries?

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