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Approaching Former Adult Client

Post Series: Ethics Scenario Archive

Scenario

I moved to Arizona seven years ago, but I started my career here providing habilitation services to adults. However, for the past six years, I have been working with only children. Two weeks ago, I saw one of my previous adult clients working at my neighborhood grocery store. I am aware we’re not allowed to approach families of children we work with, because someone could guess we provide services to them based on knowing what our career is. However, this is an adult I haven’t worked with for seven years. If my main focus has been working with children for six years, is there an issue with approaching my former adult client if he is alone?

Response

  • I see no ethical problem with being a nice person and saying hello! You can decide where to go from there based on his response to seeing you.
  • To be a devil’s advocate, the BACB compliance code has no expiration date for maintaining client confidentiality. A client may not want to acknowledge a connection publicly even years later. However, just saying hello is of course friendly, and not┬álikely to cause harm especially when the client relationship is long over. Perhaps you could even say hello without saying the client’s name; then if they recognize you and want to talk, great! If not, explaining how you know them publicly may not be appropriate.

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