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Boundary Issues and Multiple Relationships:

An Online Ethics Course for Psychologists

4 CE Credits (this course satisfies the MD requirement for continuing education in ethics)
Moderated by: Michael C. Heitt, Psy.D.

Of all the issues that confront psychologists in their efforts to be ethical practitioners, boundary issues and multiple relationships may be the most challenging and at times, the most confusing. It is an area that seems simple and clear on the surface, but when explored further it tends to become more confusing; what at first glance seems obvious becomes a labyrinth of confusing choices.

While it is widely known that certain relationships with current patients are inappropriate and should never occur, a wide range of multiple relationships and boundary issues occur that are not so clear cut. While a list of specific do's and don'ts would be helpful, none really exists. In fact, ethics codes and state laws only provide vague guidance at best for many of the dilemmas that confront psychologists. Thus, psychologists are in need of not only a good understanding of boundary issues and multiple relationships, but also of a comprehensive decision-making process for addressing such issues and dilemmas when they occur.


This is a self-guided, text-based online course. It includes a web forum for discussion and clarification of ethical issues related to boundary issues and multiple relationships.


This workshop is designed to help you:

  1. Describe the differences between boundary crossings, boundary violations, and multiple relationships.

  2. Apply a decision-making process to help guide you in deciding when multiple relationships are or are not appropriate.

  3. Assess how factors such as personal background, culture, ethnicity, gender, and related factors impact the decisions you make regarding boundary issues and multiple relationships.

  4. Discuss the appropriate crossing of boundaries for therapeutic effectiveness.

  5. Compare and understand the differences between appropriate and inappropriate multiple relationships.

  6. Use case examples to illustrate how to apply these principles to actual clinical situations.


Criteria for successful completion of this workshop:

  1. Reading materials and participating in online discussion board.
    You will be required to complete assigned readings, review the assigned case studies, and to post questions and/or requests for clarification on the web forum discussion board as necessary for full understanding of the material. It is expected that you will read the comments of the other participants and the moderator before adding yours to the discussion.  In this way, a valuable and asynchronous virtual classroom discussion will be created.

  2. Completing an online assessment post-test, with a 75% passing score.

  3. Completing an online workshop evaluation form.

  4. Once both the post-test and completed evaluation are received by MPA, a CE certificate will be emailed to you, usually within 1-2 business days.


About the Moderator:

Michael C. Heitt, Psy.D., is a licensed psychologist in private practice. The primary focus of his expertise centers around working with physicians, psychologists, executives and other professionals who are dealing with personal and work-related challenges. He is also a consultant to small and mid-size companies on a variety of workplace and organizational issues, and is recognized by local Courts as being an expert witness in Clinical Psychology.

Dr. Heitt is on the faculty of the Johns Hopkins University and Loyola University Maryland. He has given talks internationally on topics ranging from workplace violence and professional impairment to human resources and personnel development, in addition to topics such as psychological ethics, disaster psychiatry and clinical assessment.

Within MPA, Dr. Heitt served on the Ethics Committee for over seven years, co-chairing the Committee for two years and chairing for two years. Currently he chairs the Colleague Assistance Program. He has also been active with the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards Committee and the Workplace Psychologists special interests Discussion Group.

Dr. Heitt earned his Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) degree in clinical psychology from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology in Chicago in 1996.

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