Principle VIII: Sexual Misconduct
The professional relationship has a powerful and pervasive influence on clients, which may endure long after the professional relationship has terminated. College registrants shall be aware of the potential for conflicts of interest and abuse of clients within the context of the professional relationship. Behaviour of a sexual nature between a College registrant and a client is harmful and is an abuse of power by the College registrant. College registrants shall not engage in behaviour of a sexual nature with clients. This prohibition applies at the time of referral, assessment, counselling, psychotherapy, and/or the delivery of any professional services.
Practice Notes: Boundary Violations
Practice Notes: The Slippery Slope to Sexual Misconduct: Be Informed, Be Aware
Practice Notes: Shattered Trust – The Sexual Abuse of Clients
8.1 College registrants shall be solely responsible for ensuring that sexual misconduct does not occur.
8.2 College registrants shall not have sexual intercourse and/or any other form of physical sexual relations with clients.
Physical sexual relations include, but are not limited to, kissing, touching of breasts, genitals, anus, or buttocks, genital contact, and/or masturbation of the registrant by, or in the presence of, the client or masturbation of the client by, or in the presence of, the registrant. In this context, presence includes in person, over the telephone, and/or by any electronic means.
8.3 College registrants shall not engage in touching of a sexual nature with clients.
Touching of a sexual nature includes but is not limited to, hugging, holding, patting, stroking, rubbing and any form of physical contact which is unnecessary to the helping process.
8.4 College registrants shall not engage in behaviour or remarks of a sexual nature towards the client, other than remarks or behaviour of a professional nature appropriate to the service provided.
Behaviour or remarks of a sexual nature include, but are not limited to, amorous, romantic, seductive, suggestive, and sexual behaviours or remarks. Behaviour or remarks of a sexual nature include, but are not limited to, the College registrant:
- expressing that they are “in love” with the client;
- making requests to date the client;
- giving gifts (other than giving or receiving culturally appropriate gifts of nominal value);
- unnecessarily arranging sessions in off-site locations and/or outside normal business hours;
- making unnecessary comments about the client’s body or clothing;
- requesting details about the client’s sexual history or sexual preferences that are not pertinent to the services that are being provided;
- initiating conversations about the registrant’s own sexual problems, preferences, activities, and/or fantasies; and/or
- displaying pornographic or other offensive material and/or making jokes or remarks that are sexually provocative, suggestive and/or demeaning.
8.5 If a College registrant develops sexual, romantic, or otherwise unprofessional feelings toward a client that could put the client at risk, the registrant shall seek consultation/supervision immediately and develop an appropriate plan.
8.6 If a client initiates behaviour of a sexual nature, the College registrant shall clearly state that this behaviour is inappropriate by virtue of the professional relationship and shall conduct themselves in a manner that discourages the behaviour and does not reciprocate.
8.7 If a client makes sexual overtures and/or behaves in a sexually provocative manner toward a College registrant and this cannot be appropriately and safely addressed in the context of the professional relationship, the College registrant shall terminate the relationship and take steps to assist the client in seeking alternate services.
8.8 College registrants shall not provide counselling or psychotherapy or other professional services to individuals with whom they have prior and/or existing relationship of a sexual nature. (See Principle II: Competence and Integrity, Interpretation 2.2.3)
8.9 Sexual intercourse, physical sexual relations and/or touching of a sexual nature between College registrants and clients to whom the registrants have provided psychotherapy and/or counselling services, or with respect to whom the registrants have performed the controlled act of psychotherapy, are prohibited at any time following termination of the professional relationship.
8.10 Sexual intercourse, physical sexual relations and/or touching of a sexual nature between College registrants and clients to whom the registrants have provided social work or social service work services, other than psychotherapy or counselling services and/or the performance of the controlled act of psychotherapy, are prohibited for a period of one (1) year following termination of the professional relationship and continue to be prohibited if, after one year, a non-professional relationship with the former client would give rise to a conflict of interest or otherwise contravene the Standards of Practice of the College.
8.11 College registrants shall not engage in a non-professional relationship (sexual, romantic, or otherwise) with a client’s relative or other individuals with whom the client has a close personal relationship when there is a risk of exploitation or potential harm to the client or when such activities would compromise the appropriate professional boundaries between the College registrant and the client. (See Principle II: Competence and Integrity, Interpretation 2.2.2).