Ethical Violations In Counseling

Counselor Are Supposed to Help and make you feel safe enough to open up, share your secrets, and address the problem so that you can get better.

So, What it the world was this counselor thinking?!?

As counselors, we have the power of helping others heal; and the responsibility of taking their most intimate thoughts and vulnerable feelings and keeping them safe. Yet, there are counselors, such as Jennifer Hamersky, licensed clinical professional addictions counselor in Severn, MD that makes our jobs difficult.

Deb Belt, of the Annapolis Patch, revealed in her article that Hamersky was indicted by a grand Jury in Severn for “conspiring to conceal alleged violations of pretrial release of one of her clients. Hamersky was contracted to provide mental health and substance abuse assessments, counseling, and urine drug screen testing for pretrial offenders.

Personally, I wouldn’t do it.

It’s foolish to think you can continue to get away with this type of behavior AND to think that it’s ok. I wouldn’t dare. You risk inflicting so much pain on the client, enabling negative behavior, and not to mention, you risk your whole career.

As a seasoned substance abuse counselor, with experience with providing assessments for probation and court orders, I understand the significance of accuracy in the documentation for the purpose of adequately servicing the client and the legal referral agencies. I also, understand the implications and the consequences of intentionally providing false documentation. It is a disservice and potentially damaging to the client receiving services for their diagnosis, not to mention damaging to the profession of counseling.

It’s Can Already Be Difficult Enough!

It is very hard to develop a therapeutic relationship with someone court ordered to receive treatment because most feel like they don’t need the service. For a counselor to take advantage of this situation to address their personal needs is detrimental to future therapeutic relationships this client may have to encounter and fosters a distrust of counselors and the helping field in general.

Belt reported that “according to court documents, from October 2015 through at least February 2016, while the man was under Hamersky’s supervision, the pair engaged in repeated sexual encounters, and used narcotic drugs or other controlled substances together.” She also provided false documentation, omitted pertinent information, and forged urine drug screen results.

This was simply for personal gain. In no way was this about helping the client that was under her counseling service. Hamersky may have thought she was doing this for the client, however, she was seeking multiple streams of gratification from this situation. The “alleged” behavior this counselor engaged in is unacceptable and harmful and she had the option to refer the client to a more appropriate and effective counseling service. She chose to make the unethical and illegal choice to engage in an inappropriate relationship with her client and falsify legal documentation. In return she obtained what she wanted, the client obtained what he wanted, and jeopardized both of their freedom.

CONSEQUENCES

Jennifer Hamersky now faces five years for the conspiracy, up to 20 years for each count of obstruction of justice, up to five years in prison for each count of making a false document, and up to five years for making a false statement.

Counselors are to abide by ACA Code of Ethics that protect the clients we serve from abuse, neglect, and exploitation.

 

 

Signed…

Ashley M Dais

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