Bartering: Accepetable Form of Payment For Counseling Services?

Bartering: Accepetable Form of Payment For Counseling Services?

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Bartering for Counseling
Most Therapists receive payment form third parties or clients for services with little apprehension because the transaction is not unethical. Bartering however is an issue with many ethical questions and differently levels of ambiguity. Bartering also consist of philanthropic giving and accepting third-party payments.

Before therapy commences the norm is to disclose all the rules and regulations with the client before any therapeutic services are provided. Additionally the client is given the information which includes the therapist hourly fee, the purpose and intention of therapy, a copy of policies and procedures. The client is advised of their rights and responsibilities, all financial arrangements related to professional services including the use of collection agencies or legal measures for nonpayment before therapy begins, and bartering in not normally advised (ACA, 1995).

According to the code of ethics of the ACA of 1995, bartering for counseling is typically discouraged, therapists usually refrain from accepting commodities or services from clients in return for therapeutic services because such arrangements have inherent potential for conflicts, mistreatment, and distortion of the client therapist relationship. Therapist may participate in bartering relationships only if it is not exploitative, and it is clearly written in a contract, and the arrangement is the accepted norm among professionals in their society (ACA, 1995).

Additionally the ACA states that "When Possible counselors are aware of their influential positions with respect to clients, and they avoid exploiting the trust and dependency of clients. Counselors make every effort to avoid dual relationships with clients that could impair professional judgment or increase the risk of harm to clients" (ACA, 1995). Therefore in my opinion, it would not be advisable to barter with a client in a therapeutic situation, because what does a therapist do if they are not satisfied with the level of work the client is providing, how does the therapist ethically handle that situation and still give appropriate therapeutic services.

Ethical issues related to fees and bartering include accepting third-party payments and philanthropic giving. Rodwin stated when payment is made by third parties, (counselors) "may serve the interests of payers, not patients" (Rodwin, 1993, p. 14). Therefore third party payers are something else to consider because when the therapist is working for a third party payer, the level of care the client is receiving must not be lowered. Therapist can not lower their level of service to low income families who receive managed care. Additionally, philanthropy is the foundation the non profit organization who care for the indigent population and needy. Philanthropic work such a pro bono work supported by virtually all codes of ethics.

In conclusion, therapists receive payment form clients for services or third parties with because it is not unethical. Bartering may be an issue because it has many ethical questions and may be vague. Also there are ethical problems associated to fees and bartering consists of philanthropic giving and accepting third-party payments.

Corey, G., Corey, M.S., & Callahan, P. (2007). Issues and ethics in the helping profession, Seventh edition. Belmont, CA: Thompson Brooks/Cole.

Rodwin, M. (1993). Medicine, money & morals: Physicians conflicts of interest. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Retrieved on 3/31/09

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