Social Workers – Maintaining Professional Relationships

The Minnesota Board of Social Work establishes and enforces professional standards, for licensed social workers.  The Board may investigate allegations against social workers whether their license is inactive or active.  A common complaint arises when a social worker fails to maintain a professional relationship with their client and develops a sexual relationship.

Social workers must maintain professional relationships with both current and former clients.  Developing a personal relationship risks impairing social workers professional judgment and severely harming the client.  A personal relationship may be seen as an act breaching a client’s trust for the social worker’s emotional, financial, or political, gains.

Particularly common is the risk that the social worker and client develop romantic feelings toward each other.  This is a mistake, as social workers are prohibited from engaging in or suggesting sexual conduct with a client.  The restriction extends beyond current clients to include former clients, with limited exception.

If you find yourself in a relationship with a former client, you will face an uphill battle in demonstrating to the Board that you never intentionally or unintentionally coerced, exploited, deceived, or manipulated your client.  Additionally, you must prove your actions were in no way detrimental to your client–at any time.  If a violation is found, the Board may order disciplinary action, such as suspension or revocation of your license.

If you receive a notice from the Minnesota Board of Social Work, take action by contacting Attorney Fabian Hoffner, for a free consultation at 612-206-3777.  Together we will discuss your options, your rights, and answer your questions.