Red Light Green Light: Considerations on Professional Relationships
- Frequently thinking of the patient when away from work.
- Sharing “inside” information with the patient about your job, information that relates to problems on the unit (e.g. interpersonal conflicts, frustrations about work, other staff, etc.).
- Frequently planning other patients’ care around the patient’s needs.
- Spending free time with the patient or a disproportionate amount of time with the patient.
- Spending time with the patient when you are “off duty” (such as during your breaks, after you’ve clocked out or on the weekend when you are not working).
- Discovering that the patient goes out of their way to be with you or please you, e.g. noticing that your patient stays up to see you when you are on the night shift or that (s)he dresses in a particular fashion prior to seeing you.
- Noticing that your style of dressing for work has changed since you started working with this patient.
- Noticing that your patient talks freely and spontaneously with you but remains silent and defensive with other staff or avoids other staff.
- Sharing more than superficial information about yourself with the patient such as personal information or work concerns.
- Feeling particularly worried about the patient’s or family’s view of you as a person if you don’t meet their expectations.
- Feeling that you are the only one who understands the patient; that other staff are too critical of the patient, that other staff are jealous of your relationship with the patient.
- Feeling competitive with other staff over the patient’s feelings about you.
- Viewing the patient as “your” patient in a possessive way.
- Keeping secrets with the patient.
- Not charting or sharing certain information about the patient or communicating only a portion of the relevant information about the patient.
- Feeling so strongly about the patient’s goals that you don’t “hear” staff’s comments or client’s/family’s wishes if they run contrary to your beliefs.
- Feeling unusual irritation if someone or something in the system creates a barrier or delay in the patient’s progress.
- Feeling guarded and defensive when someone questions your interaction or relationship with the patient.
- Noticing more physical touch than is appropriate or required for the situation or sexual content in interactions with the patient.
- Sensing that the patient/family may be more dependent upon you for tangible or emotional support than they may need to be.
- Receiving, gifts, cards, letters, other personal belongings and/or personal phone calls from the patient.
- Giving gifts, cards , letters, personal belongings or initiating personal phone calls to the patient/family.
- Tending not to accept that the patient is a patient.
- Recognizing your intentions in helping the family/child go beyond what you have been hired to do as a professional.
- Recognizing what you do for this child/family, you would not or do not do for every child/family.
- Recognizing that some things you are doing for the patient/family could or should be done by others/without you, e.g. that what you are doing might be promoting reliance/dependence on you rather than independence.
- When asking yourself about the possible positive outcomes and the possible negative outcomes of what you are doing for the child/family, you find yourself minimizing the negative outcomes to justify doing what you want to do.
- Recognizing that other patients/families, if they were to know what you do for this patient, may perceive that you do not provide equal care.
NASW Code of Ethics