Natalie Jambazian , MFTI


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May-June 2017

Best Practices by Natalie Jambazian

Best Practices: Boundaries, Social Media, and Scope of Competence

It is important to recognize the framework of what falls under Best Practices as mental health professionals, working to do our best to maintain regulations. At times trusting our instincts may not be enough, therefore we must learn to consult and trust our resources to gain expert knowledge. In this issue, I would like to discuss three common mistakes made by therapists.

Mistake #1: Crossing Boundaries
I had a client say "my therapist asks me to hang out with her after working with her for 10 years." Within the scope of best practices and ethics, this behavior would not be in the best interest of the client and could be considered exploitive because as it represents poor boundaries and could lead to an ethical violation. These types of "blurred lines" can impair professional judgment and interfere with the therapist's ability to effectively assist the client with implementing clinical goals. It could be tempting to be the nurturer rather than challenging clients to seek resources outside of the therapy room. Not all interactions are considered dual relationships, however grabbing lunch or coffee with a client who is currently still seeing you would not be in the best interest of the therapeutic relationship.

Mistake #2: Social Media Etiquette/Testimonials
Adding a client on social media invites him or her to view your personal life and navigate through your profile and is surely a poor display of self-disclosure. Be cognizant of the information you post on social media; such as personal phone number, email, pictures, home address, etc., In addition, be mindful not to post information about clients on social media and careful of how/what you share with colleagues. Although you may limit what you share through your privacy settings, some information may be archived and seen by others. As clinicians we must make an effort to inform our clients during "informed consent" of our practice of not adding clients to social media while explaining the boundaries of the therapeutic relationship. Setting such a precedent not only protects us as therapists but helps clients understand boundaries; especially in the case of a client who is new to the therapeutic experience. Discussing these issues up front can avoid embarrassing or shaming your client by denying his or her request to connect.

Testimonials in general are considered unprofessional conduct by the BBS. This practice can appear to be an attempt to convince the public the therapist is the best in the field, which may be misleading information and considered solicitation. This type of advertising can create false expectations of what the therapist can do to help a client as well; it may send a mixed message to clients and can lead to breach of confidential information.

Mistake #3: Scope of Competence
I see this all too often. We work in a community in which we would like to help every client that calls us to seek treatment, however, consulting with a client to determine if his or her case is within your scope of competence is considered best practice. Certain interventions require specific training to work with a client to meet his or her specific goal. New clinicians just entering the profession must be certain to assess the client, couple, family, or child to determine the best way to meet the client's needs. This does not mean a new clinician needs to turn down all clients whose issues may be a challenge but instead be wise in seeking counsel through consultation with a more seasoned therapist to learn how to best help the client. It is important to be proactive about getting continuing education and keeping up with the latest trends in treatment to be able to best serve our clients.

We are all human and bound to make errors, which is why it is so great we have a board and an association on whom we can call to consult CAMFT attorneys and BBS when we are uncertain about an issue.

Natalie Jambazian is a Marriage and Family Therapist Registered Intern working in private practice under the supervision of Anita Avedian, LMFT, CAMS IV. Natalie is currently an Anger Management facilitator through Anger Management Essentials and NAMA facilitating groups in Sherman oaks and Glendale. Anger Management 818 accepts both volunteer and court ordered clients, In addition, Natalie works with children, teens, and adults and her specialty includes but not limited to anger management, ADHD, PTSD, divorce, and grief. Natalie has received training in NLP, CBT, Mindfulness, and Trauma Focused Therapy. She is fluent in Armenian as her second dialect and can be reached at 818.334.8786 or via email at, Please visit her website at

San Fernando Valley Chapter – California Marriage and Family Therapists