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Costs and Benefits of a Dual Relationship in Psychology

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One major debate for counselors or psychologists is the costs and benefits of a dual or multiple relationship between the clinician and a client. One way a multiple relationship may occur is when a clinician is holding a professional role as well as playing another role with the same person outside of the professional setting (APA, 2002). Two major types of additional relationships a clinician may be involved in with an individual(s) is a sexual or non-sexual relationship. It is ethically wrong to engage in a sexual relationship with a current client, student, supervisee etc., leaving minimal room for debate. This leaves the debate open for therapists engaging in a non-sexual relationship with current individuals for which they hold a current professional standing. The following will discuss the positives and negatives to engaging in a multiple relationship as well as current professional recommendations. Positives Whether in a classroom setting or conducting therapy sessions, historically, a dual or multiple relationship in the mental health field has been deemed as wrong. However, certain communities or settings may make it difficult to avoid multiple relationships. These settings may be small communities like lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender (LGBT), specific religions, military, graduate school programs, or rural towns. In these specific settings avoiding a multiple relationship would almost mean the clinician blocking out the world around them. Therefore, under some circumstance avoiding these relationships may actually interfere with a healthy professional interaction (Ryder & Hepworth, 1990). For example, a child who has been in therapy may ask their therapist to attend their graduation or some event of importance ... ... middle of paper ... ...ip and the type of activities this new relationship will entail (Burian & Slimp, 2000). Once deciding to enter a dual or multiple relationship the therapist should obtain informed consent that includes set boundaries, confidentiality and privacy for both parties involved (Schank, Helbrok, Haldeman, & Gallardo, 2010). The therapist should also have points of contact to discuss the ongoing relationships and review the relationships. Being educated on how to deal with multiple relationships can also benefit both parties involved. In conclusion there are two different views to multiple relationships in the mental health field. Some believe these relationships should be avoided at all costs where others believe that certain circumstances are okay. Overall when engaging in a multiple relationship one must be extremely careful to protect their client and themselves.
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