New Zealand

The counselor offers the vulnerable woman a room to rent in exchange for ending her mental health support. Photo / 123rf

A counselor exploited a vulnerable client for financial gain by offering her and her three children a room to rent in exchange for ending her mental health support.

The case was investigated by the Health and Disability Commission (HDC) after the woman complained. Today a report was released stating that the adviser violated the Consumer Rights Code of Ethics for crossing professional boundaries.

In the adviser’s medical notes, he falsely documented that the woman was moving and that no further counseling was needed and that her case would be closed, according to the report.

Then, a week after the woman and her three children moved in, the counselor evicted them because he had found cheaper accommodation.

The names of the woman and the adviser were not included in the report, with HDC citing confidentiality reasons.

HDC recommended that the counselor undertake additional ethics training and that the Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Drug and Alcohol Practitioners (DAPAANZ) consider whether he is still qualified to practice.

The decision comes two and a half years after the woman first told the counselor, in a private session, that she was stressed that she couldn’t find accommodation.

“Taking pity” on the woman, the counselor told HDC he offered the woman a room to rent in his home on the grounds that she would not be able to have further counseling sessions with him if she agreed.

The counselor told the HDC that he explained to the woman that he should refer her as a client “because of the ethics surrounding [his] role “and because” it could [him] struggling with work “.

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The woman told HDC he never said she would need to see another counselor.

In the report, she said the advisor said he would need to “burn the files because he could have a lot of trouble for helping [her]”, And told him that he was“ struggling too ”and“ couldn’t pay the rent on his house himself and that he really needed someone ”.

The counselor confirmed to HDC that one of the reasons he offered his client a room was because he could not afford the rent and “needed the money”.

However, he denied that he said he was going to burn the recordings, “because everything was in the database.” He told HDC: “I just said I should send her back as a customer.”

Deputy Health and Disability Commissioner Kevin Allan ordered the adviser to write an apology to the woman, which he did, according to the report.

“By not adhering to appropriate professional boundaries and keeping accurate records, and knowingly recording false information, the counselor failed to provide the woman with safe and supportive service and failed to meet ethical standards and relevant professional skills, ”Allan said.

“I thought long and hard about this situation and… [i]It’s an action I’ll never do
repeat. … This event has certainly been a learning curve and I must repeat that there has been
never any meanness involved, ”the adviser said in the report.

“I accepted and with great regret I admit that the borders were crossed with
[Ms B]. For this, I am deeply sorry… I hope all my actions are now reflected with
integrity and honesty. “

The counsel in New Zealand told HDC that the counselor should have been well aware of the standards he must meet given his experience and training.

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This notice was published: 2021-05-10 02:00:00


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