Dual Relationships and Psychotherapy

By Arnold A. Lazarus; Ofer Zur | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 28
Authorization to Continue
A Posttermination Friendship Evolves

Exploring boundary issues has evolved from the broader field of applied and professional ethics. Reamer (2001) distinguishes between boundary violations, wherein the key feature is a conflict of interest that harms clients or colleagues, and boundary crossings, wherein a human service professional enters a dual relationship or crosses traditional boundaries in a manner that is not exploitative, manipuladve, deceptive, or coercive but in fact helpful to the client. Boundary violations can involve a breach of ethical standards, while boundary crossings are not inherently unethical. Appropriately handled, boundary crossings, such as judicious self-disclosure, attending a graduation, or consoling a bereaved client with a hug, are helpful (Ramsdell & Ramsdell, 1993).

Dual relationships can be problematic from both an ethical, as well as practice point of view, because role conflict sets up disequilibrium (Corey, Corey, & Callahan, 1988; Kitchener, 1988). A therapeutic relationship involves client vulnerability and practitioner influence, partly because of its uniqueness and partiy because it is a fiduciary relationship. When a client and professional enter a second relationship, the dynamics of the therapeutic relationship potentially continue to dominate and the people involved may be under an illusion that they are defining the second relationship around different roles and rules (Kagle 8c Giebelhausen, 1994).

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