Dual Relationships and
Rafael S. Harris, Jr., PsyD
It is not the power itself that corrupts, it is the disposition
to corruption (or lack of personal responsibility) that is
amplified by the power.
—Tomm, 1993, p. 11
This chapter will explore the complexities of dual relationships as they pertain to university counseling centers. These centers are most typically housed within the student affairs division of university systems. Their role is to address the emotional well-being of the students in order to facilitate their academic progression for the term of their schooling. Dual relationships between therapists and clients at these centers are often unavoidable due to the nature and size of university campuses and the population served (i.e., students), most of which are housed on campus. Counselors at these centers are presented with ethical and clinical challenges that will be discussed in this chapter.
The controversy over the issue of dual relationships has perplexed and bothered me for many years. From being intimidated in graduate training, to further finger cautioning during my preparation for licensure, I have been at philosophical odds with the dogma that dual relationships equal horror. As a young graduate student, I can still remember feeling unethical, ashamed, unprofessional, and alone in ethics classes for just thinking that the professor was perhaps being