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  1. #1

    Default How should I handle this?

    So I was sitting with a teen client yesterday (I'm a psychologist) and she is telling me about the recent death of her grandmother. Apparently her grandmother was a fragrance collector, it was one of her true passions in life, and this girl inherited about 150-200 bottles of vintage and rare perfumes. It was very frustrating because I had to stay professional and sympathize with her grief and all that, but my mind was pretty preoccupied. This woman was a very wealthy lady, and my client was just amazed at how many perfumes she had collected, and that most of them were still with the original boxes (!). Unfortunately, she seems completely unable to appreciate what she has, and was saying that she will probably just throw most of them out because they, "smell really bad". ARGH! It was one of those typical therapist moments where the client is rambling on and I was totally preoccupied and having trouble listening to her for the rest of the session.
    Finally I called her mother in alone for the last 10 minutes of the session and let her know about the potential value of the inheritance. I suggested that they at least have them appraised by an expert. Her mother just shrugged. I felt bad. I really had trouble scraping up the appropriate empathy about this dead grandmother. "Yeah right, dead grandmother, blah blah blah. Now about that perfume stash..."
    Later I realized that the client is behind in their bill several hundred dollars, and I should have proposed a barter of services. It's borderline unethical to propose bartering, but so is throwing away a potential goldmine in fragrances.

    -Slim
    Haikus are easy
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  2. #2
    Merlino's Avatar
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    Default Re: How should I handle this?

    it's completely ethical if the collection contains vintage Djedi

    But seriously, couldn't you just bring it up at the end of the session when she's not on the clock anymore?
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  3. #3
    supracuhz's Avatar
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    Default Re: How should I handle this?

    Bois Noir. Just do it.
    Spring/Summer Wardrobe: vetiver extraordinaire, rose 31, terre d'hermes!

  4. #4

    Default Re: How should I handle this?

    What a predicament you're in, in the one hand you have your professional reputation to uphold, on the other, a chance to save (or even acquire) a goldmine in fragrances.

    Why is bartering for services unethical but monetary compensation is ok?

    How about you just give them a discount? Or even offer to buy some of the fragrances they're wanting to throw away?

  5. #5
    Basteri's Avatar
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    Default Re: How should I handle this?

    what a dilemma, I understand you very well. Go for it. Set the mood outside of your consultation and present and offer.
    The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.

  6. #6

    Default Re: How should I handle this?

    IANAT (I am not a therapist), but it seems to me that it would be unethical to barter only if you deliberately undervalued the perfumes. Can you easily establish some fair market values? Then you would have an objective value to base your barter.

    P.S. Let me know if she has Coty's Chypre or Houbigant's Fougere Royale . . . .

  7. #7
    Merlino's Avatar
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    Default Re: How should I handle this?

    Or any vintage Guerlain
    Looking to swap/buy/receive for free () the following samples/decants:
    Indult Tihota & Rêve en Cuir
    Chant d'Aromes extrait
    Vetiver pour Elle (5ml decant)


    Selling/swapping:
    Versace The Dreamer 50ml (1.7oz) BNIB
    ---

    "The Sunshine bores the daylights outta me!"
    http://polderposh.blogspot.com/

  8. #8

    Default Re: How should I handle this?

    Perhaps the family has caught on to your fragrance obsession and are playing a mind game on you. This story has the hallmarks of a great Larry David plot.
    Last edited by Kevin Guyer; 12th May 2009 at 06:06 PM.

  9. #9

    Default Re: How should I handle this?

    Quote Originally Posted by Advocate View Post
    IANAT (I am not a therapist), but it seems to me that it would be unethical to barter only if you deliberately undervalued the perfumes. Can you easily establish some fair market values? Then you would have an objective value to base your barter.

    P.S. Let me know if she has Coty's Chypre or Houbigant's Fougere Royale . . . .
    Yep. Bartering for services is only considered ethical when a monetary value can be assigned to the services or goods being bartered, and when there is no risk that the client is being exploited or abused in the deal.

    Man, I had not even thought of Bois Noir...
    Haikus are easy
    But do not always make sense
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    ____________________________________________
    My swaps and sales are now listed here:
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    And here (just search for Slim):
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  10. #10

    Default Re: How should I handle this?

    Wow... perhaps you can give her the details of basenotes.net, and encourage her to sell off her collection, if indeed her need for financial help is great.
    Im sure there will be maaaaany interested parties. (Dibs on the Matchabelli's!)

  11. #11


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    Default Re: How should I handle this?

    Personally, I think if you propose a barter then this reflects negatively upon your credibility as a psychologist. One could look at the situation and make the negative inference that you are taking advantage of your client at a time when she is suffering severe and debilitating grief. One could also make the inference that you are manipulating your client and the situation to gain material possessions. This is a big no no. In addition, I bet there are certain ethical guidelines imposed by the Board of Psychology in your State that prohibit you from benefiting financially from a situation involving your client which is the subject of your client's recovery or part of the reason that they seek you as a psychologist.

    You could also make the argument that you are exploiting your client because they are still under the stress of their relative dying, ie they are not thinking clearly, and you bartered a trade to exploit them at at time when they are weak. This kinda makes a bit of sense too because you are clearly benefitting financially from the barter - in a sense you are doing it for your personal gain - not to benefit your client which should be your only concern. I am not saying you would ever do this but this is what the Medical Board would argue if you get dinged with an ethical Complaint.

    Further, the value of those perfumes is probably hundereds of thousands of dollars - so if you arrange some kind of barter (which you should not) then you will probably obtain thousand of dollars of rare/vintage perfumes when you are only entitled several hundred dollars in back bills. This seems really really unfair to your client.

    I am not passing any kind of judgment as to your credibility as a pyshologoist - I am merely giving you my .02 and my very objective opinion.

    So, my advice, if you do this then you may lose your license or brought up under review.
    Last edited by TheAttorney; 12th May 2009 at 06:26 PM.

  12. #12
    Sokkou's Avatar
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    Default Re: How should I handle this?

    Why not merely try to arrange a meeting with the daughter or her parents depending on her age, to inspect the collection, completely outside of the professional patient-client environment?

    I know not of your constraints as a psychologist, I'm merely a grad student for Industrial/Organizational Psychology :-p
    Last edited by Sokkou; 12th May 2009 at 06:23 PM.

  13. #13

    Default Re: How should I handle this?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheAttorney View Post
    Personally, I think if you propose a barter then this reflects negatively upon your credibility as a psychologist. One could look at the situation and make the negative inference that you are taking advantage of your client at a time when she is suffering severe and debilitating grief. One could also make the inference that you are manipulating your client and the situation to gain material possessions. This is a big no no. In addition, I bet there are certain ethical guidelines imposed by the Board of Psychology in your State that prohibit you from benefiting financially from a situation involving your client which is the subject of your client's recovery or part of the reason that they seek you as a psychologist.

    You could also make the argument that you are exploiting your client because they are still under the stress of their relative dying, ie they are not thinking clearly, and you bartered a trade to exploit them at at time when they are weak. This kinda makes a bit of sense too because you are clearly benefitting financially from the barter - in a sense you are doing it for your personal gain - not to benefit your client which should be your only concern. I am not saying you would ever do this but this is what the Medical Board would argue if you get dinged with an ethical Complaint.

    Further, the value of those perfumes is probably hundereds of thousands of dollars - so if you arrange some kind of barter (which you should not) then you will probably obtain thousand of dollars of rare/vintage perfumes when you are only entitled several hundred dollars in back bills. This seems really really unfair to your client.

    I am not passing any kind of judgment as to your credibility as a pyshologoist - I am merely giving you my .02 and my very objective opinion.

    This seems to be an educated opinion on the matter. I would follow this advice if I were in the presented situation.

  14. #14

    Default Re: How should I handle this?

    Next time...

    I'm surprised you didn't mention that you know of a website devoted to fragrances...maybe she can learn about he grandmother's passion and come to appreciate them for herself, or discover their true worth.

    Although, mentioning to the Mom that she should get them appraised was good advice.

  15. #15

    Default Re: How should I handle this?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheAttorney View Post
    Personally, I think if you propose a barter then this reflects negatively upon your credibility as a psychologist. One could look at the situation and make the negative inference that you are taking advantage of your client at a time when she is suffering severe and debilitating grief. One could also make the inference that you are manipulating your client and the situation to gain material possessions. This is a big no no. In addition, I bet there are certain ethical guidelines imposed by the Board of Psychology in your State that prohibit you from benefiting financially from a situation involving your client which is the subject of your client's recovery or part of the reason that they seek you as a psychologist.

    Further, the value of those perfumes is probably hundereds of thousands of dollars - so if you arrange some kind of barter (which you should not) then you will probably obtain thousand of dollars of rare/vintage perfumes when you are only entitled several hundred dollars in back bills. This seems really really unfair to your client.

    I am not passing any kind of judgment as to your credibility as a pyshologoist - I am merely giving you my .02 and my very objective opinion.
    Yes. I've ruled it out as a realistic option. It would be pretty clearly unethical unless they got an appraisal that placed a value of the collection in a range that approximated their bill.
    It's nice to dream.
    It reminds me of another case where I had been seeing a guy for almost 5 years pro bono. He then came in to a LOT of money and wanted to pay me a huge sum to make up for all the free sessions I had given him over the years. That is, unfortunately, unethical as well.

    -Slim
    Haikus are easy
    But do not always make sense
    Refrigerator

    ____________________________________________
    My swaps and sales are now listed here:
    http://flacon.ambaric.net/viewtopic.php?t=124

    And here (just search for Slim):
    http://scentsplits.wikidot.com/current-splits

  16. #16


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    Default Re: How should I handle this?

    Quote Originally Posted by SlimPickins View Post
    Yes. I've ruled it out as a realistic option. It would be pretty clearly unethical unless they got an appraisal that placed a value of the collection in a range that approximated their bill.
    It's nice to dream.
    It reminds me of another case where I had been seeing a guy for almost 5 years pro bono. He then came in to a LOT of money and wanted to pay me a huge sum to make up for all the free sessions I had given him over the years. That is, unfortunately, unethical as well.

    -Slim

    Slim, you sound like you know what is right and what is wrong in terms of the ethics in your profession so I have no doubt you will make the correct decision. I am just trying to play devil's advocate and ask what if? On the other hand, man, it would be sweet to even get to look at the collection though. Even if you could not "dig into it" still be great to see it.
    Last edited by TheAttorney; 12th May 2009 at 06:28 PM.

  17. #17

    Default Re: How should I handle this?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheAttorney View Post
    Slim, you sound like you know what is right and what is wrong in terms of the ethics in your profession so I have no doubt you will make the correct decision. I am just trying to play devil's advocate and ask what if? On the other hand, man, it would be sweet to even get to look at the collection though. Even if you could not "dig into it" still be great to see it.
    Ha, I don't know man. I have enough coveted untouchables in my life as is...
    Haikus are easy
    But do not always make sense
    Refrigerator

    ____________________________________________
    My swaps and sales are now listed here:
    http://flacon.ambaric.net/viewtopic.php?t=124

    And here (just search for Slim):
    http://scentsplits.wikidot.com/current-splits

  18. #18

    Default Re: How should I handle this?

    You know you're gonna just have to check out that collection! I don't see any reason why it would be unethical to ask about a barter/sale, when it could be mutually beneficial for all involved. Do it!

  19. #19

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    Default Re: How should I handle this?

    Absolutely agree with TheAttorney's assessment.

    My advice to the OP is to totally avoid the subject, as there will most certainly be a clash when an element of personal business is injected into a clinical/therapeutic environment and situation.

    It would certainly pique my curiosity, being in that situation, but I would strongly advise not becoming involved - directly or indirectly.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheAttorney View Post
    Personally, I think if you propose a barter then this reflects negatively upon your credibility as a psychologist. One could look at the situation and make the negative inference that you are taking advantage of your client at a time when she is suffering severe and debilitating grief. One could also make the inference that you are manipulating your client and the situation to gain material possessions. This is a big no no. In addition, I bet there are certain ethical guidelines imposed by the Board of Psychology in your State that prohibit you from benefiting financially from a situation involving your client which is the subject of your client's recovery or part of the reason that they seek you as a psychologist.

    You could also make the argument that you are exploiting your client because they are still under the stress of their relative dying, ie they are not thinking clearly, and you bartered a trade to exploit them at at time when they are weak. This kinda makes a bit of sense too because you are clearly benefitting financially from the barter - in a sense you are doing it for your personal gain - not to benefit your client which should be your only concern. I am not saying you would ever do this but this is what the Medical Board would argue if you get dinged with an ethical Complaint.

    Further, the value of those perfumes is probably hundereds of thousands of dollars - so if you arrange some kind of barter (which you should not) then you will probably obtain thousand of dollars of rare/vintage perfumes when you are only entitled several hundred dollars in back bills. This seems really really unfair to your client.

    I am not passing any kind of judgment as to your credibility as a pyshologoist - I am merely giving you my .02 and my very objective opinion.

    So, my advice, if you do this then you may lose your license or brought up under review.

  20. #20
    Dependent RHM's Avatar
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    Default Re: How should I handle this?

    Damn!

    I know you did the right thing but...damn.
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  21. #21
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    Default Re: How should I handle this?

    It seems logical to refer them to a qualified appraiser & then be sure to get in there & purchase some of those items if they're to be sold.
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  22. #22

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    Default Re: How should I handle this?

    tough situation, my head is spinning just hearing this story, I was in a similer when I was a preteen, my great grandmother died and left behind an entire nearly unused Jean Patou Ma collection like this one



    Now since I was into perfume at the time my mom said I could have it but at that time I was in to the fruity sugary perfumes like Pink Sugar that every preteen girl wears so I turned her down and the collection was sold I regret that mistake every time I see a bottle of Jean Patou
    I am not afraid... I was born to do this.

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  23. #23

    Default Re: How should I handle this?

    Attorney is exactly correct.

    It is plugging into something you desire. Your training and position of trust is all about keeping your desires separate, and helping the client. If you are having trouble, imagine substiting sexual attraction for the perfume - would you give into your desires then? Absolutely not.

    By the way - you also did the right thing telling her about the potential value.

    Edt - but reading other people's compassionate posts reminded me that you are a human being as well as a therapist. Bloody difficult situation that and a proper challange.
    Last edited by hirch_duckfinder; 12th May 2009 at 08:31 PM.
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  24. #24

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    Default Re: How should I handle this?

    Quote Originally Posted by SlimPickins View Post
    Yes. I've ruled it out as a realistic option. It would be pretty clearly unethical unless they got an appraisal that placed a value of the collection in a range that approximated their bill.

    It's nice to dream.
    This sums it up pretty well. I can certainly empathize, but if I were on the other side of this as the client or the parent or a friend they relayed the conversation to, I would start to consider it inappropriate if you expressed any more interest beyond that casual suggestion to get the collection appraised.

    But it's nice to dream.

  25. #25

    Default Re: How should I handle this?

    Clearly, if you seriously consider this, you should seek professional advice. Can you call your State's licensing authority to get an ethics opinion?

    I think there is some danger to your credibility in your patient's eyes. At some point in the future, would she shun your advice on the rationalization that "she was all about my grandma's perfume?" On the other hand, she's considering throwing them in the trash, so she's not clinging to them for sentimental value. These folks actually might be thrilled: "You mean, instead of putting this crap in a landfill, you'll take it off our hands and write off our huge outstanding balance? Yippee!"

    We have already discussed how a barter can be approached ethically. Your past due balance can be established objectively. If there were an independent appraisal, or some objective criteria for setting a value, then the perfume collection could be established objectively. There would be a clear paper trail showing that you did not take "advantage of your client at a time when she is suffering severe and debilitating grief."

    The bottom line is that, while you do what you do for people because you want to help them, you also expect to be paid. These folks owe you a lot of money. You provided them with a valuable service, and you deserve to be paid -- by cash, check, money order, or whatever. I would weigh whether there is any therapeutic downside to pursuing the matter. If there were not, then I would run it past my licensing authority and establish objective criteria for the valuation.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: How should I handle this?

    Slim, I just love your story. What a stunning yet painful situation to be in. I think Ruggles's comment about a Larry David script is right on.

    I think it was the right thing and helpful to tell the mother about the potential value. That was a kind and responsible thing to do.

    We all know your integrity and priorities. It sure is nice to dream isn't it? And nice to ache to see and smell the collection--I mean, how could you not? How could you not think about what a coincidence it is that you can appreciate the inheritance?

    Great story, good show, and we really feel for you!
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  27. #27
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    Default Re: How should I handle this?

    Tell me who it is, my friend does appraisals and home clean-outs. He could just say someone at the funeral parlor referred him if they needed help tying up the loose ends. This is why I never continued on with more than a minor in Psych. I would be like "LET'S MAKE A DEAL!!!"
    Quand on boit l'eau, il faut penser à sa source

  28. #28
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    Default Re: How should I handle this?

    I think all of us can sympathize with you Slim, about how incredibly hard this situation is to do the right thing.

    Good luck.
    "Realize deeply that the present moment is all you will ever have."

    -- Eckhart Tolle
    Currently wearing: Shalimar by Guerlain

  29. #29

    Default Re: How should I handle this?

    Good story -- perhaps you could simply ask her if the perfumes are for sale? She may even bring up the bartering idea herself. It's in her power to come up with the selling price -- if she says $250, nice deal.
    Peace ~ Markymark

  30. #30

    Default Re: How should I handle this?

    By the way, here is what the Ethical Principals of Psychologists and Code of Conduct says:

    6.05 Barter With Clients/Patients

    Barter is the acceptance of goods, services, or other nonmonetary remuneration from clients/patients in return for psychological services. Psychologists may barter only if (1) it is not clinically contraindicated, and (2) the resulting arrangement is not exploitative.
    http://www.apa.org/ethics/code2002.html#6_05

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