Oates Institute

Holding the Boundaries: Professional Ethics in Practice


The issues of dual relationships and the intimacy of professional-client/patient/parishioner relationships frequently blindside care giving professionals; whether they are counselors, chaplains, pastors, social workers, or nurses. This recognition has prompted many professional organizations, licensure boards, and denominational agencies to require professional caregivers to show annual continuing education in the area of professional ethics.

This seminar features peer group dialogue around a collection of articles addressing the nature of these boundaries and their implications in care giving relationships.


  • Ethical Character
  • Ethics and Intimacy in the Care Professions
  • Wandering Along the Boundary Lines
  • Sheep in the Midst of Wolves
  • The Healing of an Afterpastor

Learning Objectives:

Following this seminar, participants should be able to:

  1. Define ethics and identify different types of ethical codes and ethical decision-making models.
  2. Understand the importance of professional codes of ethics for personal and collective responsibility.
  3. Be aware of the nature of boundaries between care professionals and their clients and implications for practice/ministry.
  4. Acknowledge the importance of attending to the issue of intimacy to avoid boundary violations in professional/client relationships.
  5. Be aware of areas in professional care giving that often lead to ethics violations and identify “preemptive” principles for professional practice.
  6. Recognize the possible consequences of silence and secret-keeping in community.
  7. Acknowledge the need for self-care of care giving professionals.


Facilitator: Rev. Dale Buffington



You may participate in this seminar from wherever you are. All you need is your tablet or computer and access to the Internet. You may also participate according to your schedule. By spreading the discussion out over several weeks using a discussion forum, you may read others posts and submit your own to the conversation at times that are convenient to you.

This seminar will use the Oates Institute’s Connected Learning approach, which invites participants to reflect on their experience in light of the assigned readings and share the insights of that reflection with the group. This allows us to more fully engage with what the author and seminar facilitator share and we discover new insights about ourselves in light of our experience. Often we discover that we know more than we thought we did. Sharing our insights helps us go deeper and to also learn from one another’s experience. One of the exciting aspects of online seminars is that the participants are from so many other places providing us with the opportunities for learn from other regions and cultures.

Continuing Education Requirements:

As a participant in this online seminar you may earn 12 contact hours of continuing education credit by reading the resource and other presentations and participating in the discussion. Those seeking continuing education credits must contribute at least two posts per week to the discussion — one reflecting on the presentations or case studies in light of personal experience and context and a second responding to someone else’s reflection or inquiry. The evaluation form submitted at the end of the seminar serves as the CEU application. Following your submission of this form you will receive your CEU certificate.


As with all Oates Seminars, registration for this seminar is simple. Members may register for free by simply sending a quick email (from your desired email address) to registration@oates.org.  Non-members may participate with the payment of the non-member fee of $95. Be certain to include your seminar choice in “other instructions.” (Or you can send an email to registration@oates.org as well.)

You may also choose to BECOME A MEMBER! We welcome that choice as well.


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