Six Arguments Against Dual
Relationships and Their
Ofer Zur, PhD and Arnold A. Lazarus, PhD, ABPP
TO DUAL RELATIONSHIPS
Dual relationships between psychotherapists and clients have been frowned upon and denounced by the majority of therapists, ethicists, courts, licensing boards, ethics committees, and educators. The main reasons given for this proscription are that clients must be protected from exploitative and harmful therapists and that dual relationships, according to some, are not only harmful to clients but also compromise the integrity of the therapeutic process.
Issues of exploitation in general and sexual or business exploitation in particular are appropriately at the forefront of consumer advocates’ agendas. The valid concern is that service professionals, such as psychotherapists, physicians, pastors, or attorneys, can easily exploit their clients by using their positions of authority or power for personal gain. Clients seeking help with mental health are often in crisis and likely to be highly vulnerable and suggestible. Many regard trust in and vulnerability to the therapist as an inherent part of the healing process (Barnett,