MK: This is an important piece for counselors to understand and it is important to plan healthy alternative ways to meet their emotional and romantic needs.

DK: As mentioned earlier, the 2005 ACA Code of Ethics increases the prohibition on sexual and romantic interactions with former clients.

But sex between therapists and their patients still happens from time to time, and a rather dramatic case in Kenosha demonstrates why Wisconsin state law considers it a crime.

Does that mean that the counselor needs to call off her engagement?

MK: I talked to Rocco Cottone, Harriet Glosoff and Judy Miranti, three members of the Ethical Code Revision Task Force, about this scenario.

It is really important that enough time has passed for the power differential to be resolved.

It is also important to recognize that counselors can decide to make the personal choice to never engage in romantic or sexual relationships with former clients even though the ACA Code of Ethics allows one to do so after a five-year waiting period.

However, if the counselor is found guilty, the insurance company will not pay any monetary damages that are awarded and will also expect to be reimbursed by the counselor for all legal fees incurred in their defense.

The fact that sexual contact is the only exclusion contained in a malpractice policy indicates how harmful sexual contact is to a client.MK: The task force prohibited sexual or intimate relationships with family members because counselors engaging in such relationships with client’s relatives can have a harmful impact on clients.For example, if a counselor were to have an intimate or sexual relationship with a sibling or a former partner of a client, that could have a potential risk of emotionally harming the client.ACA Chief Professional Officer David Kaplan conducted the following interview with ACA Ethical Code Revision Task Force Chair Michael Kocet. Sexual or romantic interactions with clients continue to be prohibited? The 2005 ACA Code of Ethics continues to recognize the harm that can be impacted upon clients when they are sexually intimate with their counselor.David Kaplan: Today we are going to be talking about changes around sexual or romantic relationships specifically as they relate to Standard A.5. To start off, my understanding from the new code is that sexual or romantic interactions between a counselor and a current client continue to be prohibited. DK: However, some things that do change include increasing the number of intervening years that must pass in order to have a romantic/sexual relationship with a former client and a new prohibition on romantic/sexual relationships with the family members and romantic partners of clients. The counseling relationship is one based on trust, so we must respect the power differential inherent in any counseling relationship regardless of the counselor’s theoretical orientation or perspective.Engaging in any type of sexual or intimate relationship with a current client is abuse of power.