Privacy boundaries in substance abuse treatment: therapists’ perspective

The study investigates how therapists in the field of substance abuse manage their professional role or privacy boundaries, and their attitudes associated with self-disclosure and dual relationships.

Ten therapists, five who had recovered (neophytes) and five who had never been substance dependent, shared their work experiences during semi-structured, in-depth interviews, which have been subjected to interpretative phenomenological analysis. While non-neophytes were generally reluctant to share personal information or establish alternative forms of relationship with current or former clients, neophytes were more open to using self-disclosure and admitted changing professional relationships into friendships. These findings are discussed in relation to ethical codes, training and supervision in substance abuse treatment.

Reference: Pietkiewicz, I. J. & Skowrońska-Włoch, K. (2016). Professional boundaries among substance abuse therapists with and without substance abuse history. Polish Psychological Bulletin, 48, 411–422. doi: 10.1515/ppb-2017-0047

Research team:
Igor Pietkiewicz, Ph.D.; Karolina Skowrońska-Włoch, M.Sc.