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Boundary Issues, Vicarious Liability, and LPC Supervision

As an LPC supervisor in Texas, it is essential to educate and guide your Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) Associates on boundary issues. Here’s a detailed approach:


  1. Understanding Boundaries:

  • Begin by ensuring that your associates have a clear understanding of professional boundaries in counseling.

  • Discuss the purpose of boundaries, their importance, and how they impact the therapeutic relationship.

  1. Texas LPC Rules and Regulations:

  1. Types of Boundaries:

  • Physical Boundaries: Discuss appropriate physical contact with clients. Remind associates to maintain a professional distance.

  • Emotional Boundaries: Address emotional involvement and transference/countertransference issues.

  • Dual Relationships: Explain the risks of dual relationships (e.g., being both counselor and friend).

  1. Supervisory Strategies:

  • Case Examples: Present real or hypothetical scenarios involving boundary challenges.

  • Role-Modeling: Demonstrate healthy boundaries in your own interactions with clients.

  • Self-Reflection: Encourage associates to reflect on their own boundaries and biases.

  1. Dual Relationships:

  • Discuss situations where dual relationships may arise (e.g., knowing a client outside of therapy).

  • Guide associates on ethical decision-making when faced with potential dual relationships.

  1. Social Media and Technology:

  • Address the impact of social media on boundaries. Remind associates to maintain professional profiles.

  • Discuss online communication with clients and the need for clear guidelines.

  1. Supervision Format:

  • If providing distance supervision, ensure that boundaries are maintained even in virtual interactions.

  • Discuss the challenges of remote supervision and how to address them.

  1. Documentation:

  • Remind associates to document any boundary-related discussions during supervision.

  • Documenting boundary issues in client records is equally crucial.

  1. Ethical Decision-Making:

  • Teach associates to weigh competing interests (client welfare, confidentiality, legal requirements) when faced with boundary dilemmas.

  • Encourage them to consult with you when unsure.

  1. Ongoing Dialogue:

  • Keep the conversation about boundaries open and ongoing.

  • Regularly revisit the topic during supervision sessions.

Remember, effective boundary education ensures that LPC Associates maintain professional integrity, prioritize client well-being, and adhere to ethical standards.


Let’s explore an example of vicarious liability related to boundary issues in LPC supervision:

Example Scenario: Meet Dr. Rodriguez, an experienced LPC supervisor. She oversees several LPC Associates working in a community mental health center. One of her Associates, Emily, has been providing counseling to a client named Sarah who struggles with severe anxiety.


  • Vicarious Liability: Dr. Rodriguez is vicariously liable for the actions of her Associate, Emily.

  • Boundary Issue: Emily, in her eagerness to help Sarah, starts texting her outside of counseling sessions. They discuss Sarah’s progress and coping strategies via text messages.

Why It’s a Breach:

  1. Dual Relationship: Emily establishes a dual relationship by becoming both Sarah’s counselor and a personal contact.

  2. Confidentiality Risk: Texting outside sessions risks breaching Sarah’s confidentiality.

  3. Professional Boundaries: Emily’s actions blur the lines between professional and personal interactions.


  • Liability: If Sarah experiences harm due to Emily’s boundary violation, Dr. Rodriguez may be held liable.

  • Supervisory Negligence: Dr. Rodriguez’s inadequate supervision exposes her to vicarious liability through Emily’s mistakes.

Supervisory Strategies to Manage Vicarious Liability:

  1. Clearly Defined Policies: Dr. Rodriguez should establish clear policies on communication boundaries.

  2. Awareness of High-Risk Areas: Recognize that texting can be risky and discuss it explicitly with Associates.

  3. Training and Supervision: Provide guidance on maintaining professional boundaries.

  4. Feedback System: Regularly review Emily’s interactions with clients and address any boundary concerns.

Remember, effective supervision minimizes vicarious liability and ensures ethical practice. 


To help prevent vicarious liability in LPC supervision, consider the following crucial steps:

  1. Clearly Defined Policies and Expectations:

  • Establish and communicate clear supervision policies regarding boundaries, ethical conduct, and professional standards.

  • Ensure that LPC Associates understand their responsibilities and limitations.

  1. Awareness of High-Risk Areas:

  • Recognize situations where vicarious liability is more likely to occur.

  • High-risk areas include dual relationships, confidentiality breaches, and inadequate supervision.

  1. Appropriate Training and Supervision:

  • Provide thorough training to LPC Associates on ethical guidelines, legal requirements, and best practices.

  • Regular supervision sessions should address boundary issues and risk management.

  1. Understanding Supervisee Strengths and Weaknesses:

  • Assess each Associate’s strengths and areas for improvement.

  • Tailor supervision to address specific needs and enhance competence.

  1. Develop an Adequate Feedback System:

  • Regularly review LPC Associates’ interactions with clients.

  • Provide constructive feedback to address any boundary violations or errors.

  1. Supervisors Knowing Their Own Responsibilities:

  • As a supervisor, understand your role and legal obligations.

  • Stay informed about changes in regulations and professional standards.

Remember, proactive risk management and maintaining high professional standards are essential to minimize vicarious liability in LPC supervision.

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