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There are several definitions for professional abuse and distinctions are usually pronounced in definitions according to professional fields. One of the general descriptions, however, that sought to bridge the variations was put forward by the National Council of Psychotherapists, which explained professional abuse as a violation of an organization's code of ethics. Some sources refer to this as standards of behavior, which include the maintenance of professional boundaries and the treatment of people with respect and dignity. A more comprehensive version of this description states that this type of abuse is "a pattern of conduct in which a person abuses, violates, or takes advantage of a victim within the context of the abuser's profession."
Professional abusers are the individuals who prey on the weaknesses of others in their workplaces or in other places related to economical strands of society. Their fundamental behavior is based in the following actions:
- taking advantage of their client or patient's trust
- exploiting their vulnerability
- not acting in their best interests
- failing to keep professional boundaries
Forms of abuse
There are many forms of abuse. It may be:
Professional abuse always involves:
Professionals can abuse in three ways:
- nonfeasance - ignore and take no indicated action - neglect.
- misfeasance - take inappropriate action or give intentionally incorrect advice.
- malfeasance - hostile, aggressive action taken to injure the client's interests.
There are several strategies available to organizations seeking to address professional abuse. A study, for instance, revealed that this problem often arises when there is an extreme power imbalance between the professional and the victim. A framework based on different grades of client empowerment and ways of strengthening it can help solve the problem. Those who have been subjected to professional abuse could also pursue any of the following courses of actions: lodging a complaint; reporting abuse to the police; and, taking legal action.
There are also organizations that can help those who are victimized learn more about their rights and the options available to them.
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