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Case Study: Dual Relationships

Decent Essays
Dual relationships occur when practitioners have two or more overlapping roles with their client. They cannot be entirely avoided and not all are unethical, some may enhance treatment outcomes. It is how practitioners approach setting boundaries and understanding these boundaries that lead to a healthy relationship.

The issues that arise for practitioners with dual relationships are:
• Impaired objectivity
• Impaired competency
• May lead to confidentiality breakdown

The case studies have introduced new ideas about dual relationships such as:
• Behaviour being misinterpreted by a client
• Risk of Transference- client developing intense feelings towards practitioner
• Risk of counter- transference, practitioner developing intense feelings
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Mary Beth Nickel outlines in her article that practitioners in small communities will inadvertently encounter dual relationships, so a global prohibition against such relationships is unrealistic. Practitioners must instead evaluate situations on a case-by-case basis.

Beneficial boundary crossing includes; walking with client or flying with a fear-of-flying client, attend school plays, providing snacks and drinks, playing cards and exchanging small gifts and photos with younger clients. These all lead to a deeper therapeutic relationship.

The AIPC article expresses the need for each case to be assessed unique to the client, similar to Nickel’s case-by-case evaluation. Circumstances change and are different for different people; ridged conformity to a specific set of guidelines can inhibit effective healing and relationship. It is important that psychologists differentiate between harmful boundary violations and helpful boundary
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Stalking and accessing information has become a new concern for people in the health sector.
Breaching boundaries can lead down the slippery slope. The slippery slope argument claims that boundary crossings inevitably lead to boundary violations. Failure to adhere to boundaries and emotional distance will ultimately foster exploitive, harmful and sexual dual relationships . Self-disclosure, a hug, a home visit, or accepting a gift is likely to lead to sex or harm. It is recommended that practitioners avoid unethical interactions to stay away from potential boundary crossing and maintain a healthy professional
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