2 CE Credit Hour Presentation on Ethical Challenges in the Digital Age

Boundaries and Self-Disclosure in the Digital Age: Top Ethical Challenges


June 28, 2024
9AM Pacific | 10AM Mountain | 11AM Central | 12PM Eastern

Are you Googling your clients?
Are they Googling you?
How do we think about boundaries when so much personal information exists online?

What if our previous protocols around self-disclosure no longer serve us or our clients, given that
self-disclosure may be inadvertent or unknown? And how do we talk to our clients about this new landscape while trying to navigate it ourselves? Ethical questions and dilemmas abound.

The truth is that therapists must better understand the digital world in which we are currently practicing. Though traditional boundary issues have always been an ongoing challenge for therapists, this new online reality magnifies the myriad issues surrounding how we manage and conceptualize therapist boundaries and choices around self-disclosure

Live and Recorded

CE Credit Hours

Learn how to
bring yourself fully into sessions in ways that are both productive and ethical, and that
protect you and your clients

Learn from Kirsten Lind Seal, PhD, LMFT as she zeroes in on the most important aspects of “Self-of-Therapist” work, including practical guidance on boundaries, both traditional and digital, and how to reconceptualize self-disclosure in this new digital age of ours.

Who is this event for?

This course is designed for solo practitioners, group practice leaders, and group practice clinical staff members. It is also suitable for practices that consist of 100% in-person, 100% telehealth, or a mixture of in-person and telehealth treatment.

green check mark  In-person Practices

green check mark  Hybrid Practices

green check mark  Teletherapy Only Practices

This training will benefit clinicians throughout their careers, especially those clinicians who are not digital natives but digital immigrants. Psychologists, social workers in clinical practice or case management, marriage and family therapists and community, clinical and school counselors are all good candidates to attend. Everyone needs regular ethics trainings, and this webinar offers practical, clinically applicable interventions and new ways of thinking for clinicians of every level.

 Thank you for the information and for making it so accessible. Somehow you take the driest material and make it fun and immediately relevant. You folks knock it out of the park!

Maegan Carney

Understand Self-Disclosure

Describe three different “self-of-therapist” orientations and how this might affect the therapeutic alliance and decisions around self-disclosure

Understand Impacts

Recognize and name 3 possible negative consequences of self-disclosure

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Strategies for Care

Develop a usable plan for deciding on when, if and how much self-disclosure to use in session

Ethical Applications

Recognize and name the difference between boundary crossings and boundary violations, both traditional and digital, and explain why this difference is crucial for
ethical practice

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Ethical Principles

Integrate relevant ethical principles and professional ethical codes into managing boundaries and decisions around self-disclosure

Develop a Plan

Develop plan in order to better recognize and minimize porous boundaries in clinical practice, both traditionally and digitally (in-person and online)

Course Details

2 CE Credit Hour. Live Interactive CE training. 

Title: Boundaries and Self-Disclosure in the Digital Age: Top Ethical Challenges

Authors/Presenters: Kirsten Lind Seal, PhD, LMFT
CE Length: 2 CE credit hours, legal-ethical
Legal-Ethical CE Hours: 2 legal-ethical CE hour 

Educational objectives: 

  • Describe three different “self-of-therapist” orientations and how this might affect the therapeutic alliance and decisions around self-disclosure
  • Recognize and name 3 possible negative consequences of self-disclosure
  • Develop a usable plan for deciding on when, if and how much self-disclosure to use in session
  • Recognize and name the difference between boundary crossings and boundary violations, both traditional and digital, and explain why this difference is crucial for
    ethical practice
  • Develop plan in order to better recognize and minimize porous boundaries in clinical practice, both traditionally and digitally (in-person and online)
  • Integrate relevant ethical principles and professional ethical codes into managing boundaries and decisions around self-disclosure


1. The therapeutic alliance
a. Therapist characteristics that strengthen the alliance
b. Definition and importance of self-of-therapist work
c. Three self-of-therapist orientations
d. Common factors research

2. Therapist self-disclosure (TSD)
a. Two categories and four common types of TSD
b. Differences in TSD inclinations due to different therapeutic orientations
c. Determine own tendencies of TSD orientation
d. How to decide on deliberate TSD in session

3. Various sequelae of TSD
a. Positive sequelae of TSD
b. Negative sequelae of TSD
c. How TSD can deepen the therapeutic relationship
d. Recommendations for using TSD as an intervention

4. Boundaries
a. Definition of boundaries
i. Classic
ii. Culturally aware
b. Historical view of boundaries
i. What Freud did
ii. What D.W. Winnicott did
c. Category of traditional boundary issues

5. Boundary crossings and boundary violations
a. Examples of possible boundary crossings
b. Myths about boundary crossings
c. Examples of digital boundary crossings
d. Examples of possible boundary violations
e. Crucial difference between these two actions
f. Reasons that crossings or violations can be problematic in clinical practice
g. Therapist characteristics/life situations that leave us most at risk for boundary violations

6. Foundational ethical principles
a. Definition/explanation
b. Application to boundary crossings
7. Shift to telehealth
a. Effect this had on managing boundary issues in clinical practice
b. Ways to ensure ethical practice via tele-mental health/tips from Ofer Zur
c. How clients felt about this shift in practice
d. Influence this shift might have on the therapeutic alliance
8. How clients may use online tools to cross our boundaries and what to do
a. Main reasons clients search online for their therapist’s information
b. Practical tips for navigating conversations about digital boundaries in
c. Connection between digital boundary issues and informed consent
d. Current recommendations for relevant language in informed consent
9. Addressing boundary issues ethically either in or out of session
a. Three methods of creating boundaries with clients
b. Four new ethical issues in the digital age affecting the therapeutic alliance
10.Relevant ethics codes and addendums for managing boundary issues
a. Relevant professional ethical codes/guidelines about boundary issues,
both traditional and digital
i. APA
ii. ACA
iii. NASW
b. HIPAA and HITECH links
11.Reasons boundary issues are inherent in TSD via social media
a. Therapists’ own usage of social media
b. How to manage online presence and to what extent change current
behavior around use of social media
c. Cultivating a personal and professional “public self”
12.Recommendations for creating and holding boundaries with clients
a. Steps for managing boundary issues of traditional boundaries
b. Steps for ethical management of digital boundaries

    Meet Our Presenter

    Presented by

    Kirsten Lind Seal, PhD, LMFT

    tara sanderson

    Kirsten Lind Seal, PhD, LMFT holds an MA in Counseling Psychology and a PhD in Couple and Family Therapy from the University of Minnesota. Dr. Lind Seal teaches Ethics at two universities and regularly conducts trainings on Ethics and Cross-Cultural issues at the local, regional and national level. She is currently Adjunct Associate Professor at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota and Core Ethics Faculty (adjunct) at Chaminade University of Honolulu. She has extensive training in teaching and learning: at Saint Mary’s she was a Teaching Fellow (2013-2014), and she completed the Preparing Future Faculty Certificate Program at the University of Minnesota in 2014.

    Dr. Lind Seal’s research has been published in Psychology Today, the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy and Family Process. She has also published several case studies and an Ethics-focused “In Consultation” piece in the Psychotherapy Networker and reviewed for The Journal of Critical Psychology, Counselling, and Psychotherapy (UK). She is currently conducting a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning research project examining the impact of her Cultural Context Ethical Decision-Making model on
    graduate students’ cultural growth and ethical decision-making at Chaminade University
    of Honolulu.

    Dr. Lind Seal’s professional memberships are with the Minnesota Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and the New England Association for Family and Systemic Therapy, for which organizations she has created, presented and recorded numerous trainings and webinars on a variety of Ethical issues. She has been participating in ongoing monthly Anti-Racism groups through NEAFAST for the last four

    She has a completely virtual private practice where she works with individuals, couples and family, and offers ethics consultations to colleagues. She has been interviewed as a content expert by MPR, CNN.com, and the Minneapolis Star Tribune and is in her tenth year as a regular on-air creator/contributor on Relationship Reboot, a weekly segment on relationships on WCCO TV’s Channel 4 (CBS Twin Cities).



     Resources & Citations:

     – Ofer Zur’s website https://www.drzur.com/
     – Zur Institute https://www.zurinstitute.com /
     – Kenneth Pope’s website https://kspope.com /
     – Best Practices in the Online Practice of Couple and Family Therapy (AAMFT)
     – Social Media: 10 Tips for Professional Counselors (ACA)
    https://www.apa.org/about/policy/guidelines-optimal-use-social-media.pdf (APA)
     – HIPAA home
     – HIPAA journal on HITECH act
     – HITECH act
     – PROQOL (Professional Quality of Life Scale)
    –  Ten Percent Happier (meditation app and podcasts)

    Kirsten Lind Seal’s website http://www.kirstenlindseal.com
    Email [email protected]


    Ackermann & Hilsenroth (2003). A review of therapist characteristics and techniques positively impacting the therapeutic alliance. Clinical Psychology Review, 23. 1-33.

    Anderson, Sanderson & Košutić (2011). Therapist use of self questionnaire: A reliability and validity study. Contemporary Family Therapy, 33, 363-384.

    Aponte et al., (2009). Training the person of the therapist in an academic setting. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 35(4), 389-394.
    Aponte (2022). The soul of therapy: The therapist’s use of self in the therapeutic relationship. Contemporary Family Therapy, 44, 136–143.

    Berg, Bjornstad, Våpenstad, Davidson & Binder (2019). Therapist self-disclosure and the problem of shared decision making. Journal of Evaluation of Clinical Practice. 26. 397-402. doi: 10.1111/jep.13289
    Black, C. (2018). To cross or not to cross: Ethical boundaries in psychological practice.Journal of the Australia and New Zealand Student Services Association, (49), 62-71. https://doi.org/10.1037/fsh0000598

    Corey, Corey & Corey (2019). Issues and Ethics in the Helping Professions. Cengage Learning.

    D’Aniello & Nguyen (2019). Considerations for intentional use of self-disclosure for family therapists. Journal of Family Psychotherapy, 28(1), 21-37. https://doi.org/10.1080/08975353.2017.1283147

    Gutheil & Gabbard (1993). The concept of boundaries in clinical practice: Theoretical and risk-management dimensions. American Journal of Psychiatry, (150), 188-196. Retrieved January 3, 2024 from https://kspope.com/ethics/boundaries.php

    Haber & Braga et al. (2022). Therapist use-of-self and the development of a culturally aware professional in family therapy. The Family Journal: Counseling and Therapy for Couples and Families, 30(3). 274-280. doi: 10.1177/10664807211061834

    Johnsen & Ding (2021). Therapist self-disclosure: Let’s tackle the elephant in the room. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 26(2), 443–450. https://doi.org/10.1177/1359104521994178

    Kellen, Schoener, Turnns, Madhusudan & Hecker (2015). Ethical decision making while using social media sites: Potential ethical and clinical implications for marriage and family therapists. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 43, 67-83. doi:

    Levitt, Minami, Greenspan, Puckett, Henretty, Reich & Berman (2016). How therapist self-disclosure relates to alliance and outcome: A naturalistic study. Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 29(1), 7–28, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09515070.2015.109039
    Moody, Pomerantz, Ro & Segrist (2021). Me, too, a long time ago: Therapist self-
    disclosure of past or present psychological problems similar to those of the client. Practice Innovations, 6(3). 181-188. https://doi.org/10.1037/pri0000151

    Pinto-Coelho, Hill, Kearney…Spangler & Thompson (2018). When in doubt, sit quietly:
    A qualitative investigation of experienced therapists’ perceptions of self-disclosure. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 65(4), 440-452.

    Trub L, & Magaldi D. (2021). Secret powers: Acts of Googling in the therapeutic
    relationship. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 77, 968–985.

    Werbart, Byléhn, Jansson & Phillips (2022). Loss of rituals, boundaries and
    relationships: Experiences of transition to telepsychotherapy following the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Frontiers in Psychology, 13, 1-14. https://doi:

    Wu & Sonne (2021). Therapist boundary crossings in the digital age: Psychologists’ practice frequencies and perceptions of ethicality. Professional Psychology: Research, and Practice , 52(5), p. 419-429. https://doi.org/10.1037/pro0000406

    Zur (2010). To zip or not to zip (one’s lips), Therapist self-disclosure: Ethical and clinical considerations. Retrieved from https://www.zurinstitute.com/course/self-disclosure/ on July 19, 2021


    Accuracy, Utility, and Risks Statement:

    This program discusses strategies for complying with HIPAA and some other US Federal rules. It may not include information on all applicable state laws. Misapplication of the materials, or errors in the materials, could result in non-compliance with applicable laws or ethics codes.

    The speaker is not an attorney.
    None of the information or comments contained in this training should be
    construed to be legal advice.
    Remember that the majority of our practice is guided by state law and state laws vary widely .
    Legal situations are highly individualized, so please consult a lawyer licensed in your state and who has expertise in mental health issues

    Conflicts of Interest:

    The speaker receives a fee for this webinar from Person Centered Tech.
    The speaker has an employment relationship with Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota and Chaminade University of Honolulu.

    The speaker is a regular contributor/creator of Relationship Reboot
    segments for WCCO TV (CBS) Channel 4’s MidMorning show

    Commercial Support: none.


    Scheduled Maintenance

    We will be temporarily taking the website offline at 10:00 PM Pacific (1:00 AM Eastern) tonight, July 6, in order to make some improvements. We plan to be back online by midnight Pacific (3:00 AM Eastern). We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Dismiss