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Disclaimer: Law, rules and regulations, not Guidelines, specify the requirements for practice and violating them constitutes professional misconduct. Not adhering to this Guideline may be interpreted as professional misconduct only if the conduct also violates pertinent law, rules and regulations.

Guideline 4: Maintaining Appropriate Professional Boundaries

Physical therapy practice requires the hands-on interaction with clients; therefore, it is advisable to seek the client's informed consent before touching, particularly in genital or private areas.
It is your responsibility, not your client's, to maintain appropriate boundaries in your professional relationship. If a complaint is filed, it will be your responsibility to demonstrate that a client has not been exploited or coerced, intentionally or unintentionally.
Be especially vigilant regarding any conduct that could impair your objectivity and professional judgment in serving your client, and any conduct that carries the risk and/or the appearance of exploitation or potential harm to your client.
Recognize and avoid the dangers of dual relationships when relating to clients in more than one context, whether professional, social, educational, or commercial. Dual relationships can occur simultaneously or consecutively. Prohibited dual relationships include, but are not limited to:
  1. accepting as a client anyone with whom you have had a prior sexual relationship or forming a sexual relationship with a current or recent client;
  2. bartering with clients for the provision of services;
  3. referring clients to services in which you have a financial interest, without disclosing that relationship; and
  4. entering into financial relationships with clients other than their paying for your physical therapy services.
Citations of Pertinent Law, Rules or Regulations:
Education Law, Section 6509(9) - "unprofessional conduct"
Regents Rule, Part 29.1(b)(2) – "exercising undue influence"
Regents Rule, Part 29.1(b)(5) – "moral unfitness to practice"
Regents Rule, Part 29.2(a)(2) – "patient/client harassment, abuse, intimidation"
Public Health Law, Section 238 - "health care practitioner referrals"