in Latin America
Roberto Kertesz, MD, PhD
Dual relationships are the extension of the therapeutic contract between therapist and patient to other kinds of interactions. They most commonly include social events or business ventures. Obviously, the therapeutic contract has precedence over any other link. The needs and welfare of the client are primary. The patient’s trust must never be violated. Psychotherapy in Latin America brings additional and unique complexities to the dynamics of dual relationships.
As observed during my experiences in most of the countries of this wide area of Latin America, as lecturer, therapist, and consultant, family bonds tend to be closer than in Anglo-Saxon countries. Family and community alliances are much more predominant than individual bonds. For example, it is comparatively rare for adolescents to leave their homes to attend a college in another state. Religious differences also exert their influence. Catholic value systems enhance sacrifice and compassion more than protestant ones, which place greater emphasis on work success. These “warmer” human relations and communal ethics spill over into our therapeutic work both in individual- and grouptherapy settings, and in my experience favor the establishment of more than a single bond between therapists and clients.