The Ethics of Ethics

To satisfy Washington state’s licensure requirements, I must complete 36 hours of continuing education credits every two years, six of which must be in ethics. 

As passionate as I am about my counseling profession, I fear nothing more than getting reported to the department of health. Due to this, it’s significant that I am aware of and responsible for the needs of each client I work with. 

Your job is to be there for your client. One hundred Washington therapists and I received the reminder in the class “Washington Law & Ethics of Abandonment, Termination, and Referrals,” this morning and although that should be obvious, I appreciated the reminder.


I must work with issues I am competent.
I must refer if someone’s needs falls outside my scope.
I must provide adequate referrals when terminating a client.

In personal relationships, I can walk in and out however I please. I can ghost them, tell them to eff off, or act in ways I’m not proud of without suffering painful consequences. 

Professionally, however, I am bound by laws. Laws that ensure that I provide clients with a standard level of care. And if my greatest fear is to get reported, my even greater fear is that my unintended lack of care will be prosecutable under the law.

So just like how the church guides people back to the straight and narrow or how chiropractors re-align an out-of-whack spine, classes in ethics act like a gentle hand reminding us of areas to do our due diligence.

Taking this fresh perspective into my 2 pm appointment today created a security and invigorating feeling in me. Sort of the way a nature retreat or trust fall team-building exercise might do. And although the class was only three hours, the knowledge and connection with a community of my colleagues felt just the right amount of supportive.

Did I wish the training had occurred at a tropical island resort? Sure. But I’ll take it virtually, cuddled up in a blankie in my own living room too.

Love, Jaclynn

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