Are Dual Relationships
Alan W. Scheflin, BA, JD, LLM, MA
What causes people to heal? This is the central question guiding physical medicine and mental therapy, and it is the standard by which all treatments and procedures must be measured. Techniques that do not facilitate cure must be discarded; methods that make people well must be endorsed. It is by this yardstick that dual relationships should be evaluated.
Prohibitions against dual relationships have been a recognized part of the ethics of therapy since the creation of psychoanalysis more than a century ago. Indeed, if we include sexual relationships as part of the class of dual relationships, the ethical prohibition goes back at least as far as Hippocrates, who warned, in the still viable Hippocratic Oath: “Whatever houses I may visit, I will come for the benefit of the sick, remaining free of all intentional injustice, of all mischief and, in particular, of sexual relations with both female and male persons, be they free or slave.” In this chapter, I will not address sexual dual relationships, so that no part of the following discussion should be applied to that topic.
The first appearance of the dual relationship issue in courts of law is Landau v. Werner (1961) where the English Court of Appeal held a