Sexualized Dual Relationships In Therapy Social Work Essay

The chief concern as a counsellor is making and pull offing professional bounds, which must ever focus on on the best involvements of the client. However, except for behaviours of an illegal nature, ethical concerns can negatively interfere with one ‘s work because there are no straightforward replies. The damaging consequence of sexual familiarities within a professional guidance relationship makes it evident that it is ever inappropriate to hold a sexual relationship with a client. In the first portion of this paper, a instance survey of a client who engaged in a sexual relationship with her former psychologist is illustrated. Main ethical concerns, application of specific ethical codifications, techniques to turn to the issue, and an ethical decision-making procedure are analyzed to decide the instance. In the 2nd portion of this paper, an interview is conducted with a clinical psychologist, which highlights the issues associating to ethical criterions and patterns, transference, multicultural concerns, boundary misdemeanors, and supervising.


The construction within which a healer and client relationship occurs is good for equal guidance. Healthy limits make a relationship that is adept, trusting, and demonstrates an environment for competent psychological guidance. Therapists must cognize that ethical misdemeanors can associate to the grey countries between transference and countertransference ( Redlich, 1990 ) . Corey, Corey, & A ; Callanan, ( 2011 ) province that sexual relationships between healers and clients continue to have significant research in the professional literature. Sexual relationships with clients are doubtless unethical, and all of the chief professional moralss codifications have expressed prohibitions against these misdemeanors. Furthermore, such relationships are a misdemeanor of the jurisprudence. The power instabilities may go on to rock the client good after the terminal of the guidance relationship, and professional criterions forbid a healer from prosecuting in any sexual relationship with a past client in which reding service was provided in the past five old ages ( Bouhoutsos & A ; Greenberg, 1999 ) . Therapists must cognize that any dating relationship is considered a signifier of inappropriate behaviour that could fall within the categorization of sexual maltreatment. The harmful effects of sexual maltreatment within the professional criterions makes it obvious that it is inappropriate to hold a sexual relationship with a client.

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The Dilemma

Rachel, a 24-year-old client, comes into her counsellor ‘s office and provinces that she feels suicidal because she engaged in a sexual relationship with her former psychologist. Because the appraisal and direction of a self-destructive client is highly serious, the counsellor addresses this issue instantly. As she approaches the suicide appraisal, the counsellor keeps three things in head: consult with a co-worker for another sentiment, document the procedure, and measure the client ‘s hazard for harming herself ( Corey, Corey, & A ; Callanan, 2011 ) . The counsellor asks Rachel to subscribe a no-suicide contract. In the contract, she agrees to avoid harming herself, but if she feels she can non command herself, she would name 911, or another individual who is near to her and she can swear. The counsellor besides asks her to speak with her household about her feelings. Rachel states that she disclosed to them that she is really down and is experiencing suicidal.

The counsellor explains to Rachel at length about double relationships. Normally when there is an ethical violation such as a psychologist holding a sexual relationship with a client, the relationship begins with a non-sexual relationship ( Brown, 2002 ) . Rachel says the relationship began in “ good religion ” and as clip passed, the boundaries between her and the psychologist began to weaken. The hazard of injury happening to Rachel increased as the psychologist and client became more intimate, and there is a greater power derived function merely as there exists between work forces and adult females in general. The counsellor explains about how these professionals may work and score female clients deliberately for their ain satisfactions.

Rachel returns to state her counsellor about the symptoms and feelings she is sing: a sense of guilt ; emptiness and isolation ; sexual confusion ; trust issues ; function confusion in therapy ; terrible depression and acute anxiousness ; suppressed choler ; and cognitive disfunction affecting flashbacks, incubuss, and intrusive ideas. The counsellor concludes that the client is so sing about all of the symptoms described as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Main Ethical Concerns

A professional guidance relationship, which involves sexual dealingss, is against the jurisprudence. Sexual development in a professional guidance relationship is described as, “ sexual engagement or extra signifiers of physical dealingss between a practician and a client ” ( Brown, 2002, pg. 79 ) . Situations affecting sexual actions between a counsellor and client are ne’er acceptable. Harmonizing to Moustacalis ( 1998 ) , sexual activity between a client and counsellor is ever damaging to client wellbeing, despite of what ground or beliefs the counsellor chooses to warrant it. However, client consent and conformity to take part in a sexual relationship does non decrease the practician of his responsibilities and duties for adhering to ethical criterions. Failure to take duty for the professional relationship and allowing a sexual relationship to develop is a mistreatment of authorization and assurance, which are sole and cardinal to the healer and client relationship.

In any professional guidance relationship, there is an unconditioned power unfairness. In this instance survey, the former healer ‘s power arises through the client ‘s belief that the healer has the proficiency to assist with her jobs, and the client ‘s confession of personal information, which is normally kept secret. The world that reding services can non be successful unless clients are willing to open up does non alter the chief power instability ( Moustacalis, 1998 ) . Therefore, the psychologist has an of import duty to take action, do no injury, and is finally apt for pull offing boundary issues if misdemeanors occur. Ironically, the former healer in this instance failed to keep appropriate professional ethical criterions and caused psychological harm to his client alternatively of advancing a trusting and healthy professional relationship. Because of the earnestness and complexness of these sexual boundary misdemeanors, Rachel presently suffers from self-destructive ideas, depression, anxiousness, and post-traumatic emphasis upset. The power difference that is in the therapist-client relationship causes Rachel to happen it complicated to discourse boundaries or to acknowledge and support herself against ethical misdemeanors. In add-on, clients may at times prompt a sexual relationship and their behaviour could advance misdemeanors ( Marmor, 2000 ) .

Application of Specific Ethical Codes & A ; Techniques to Address Dilemma

Harmonizing to the 2005 American Counseling Association ‘s ( ACA ) Code of Ethical Standards, “ Sexual or romantic counselor-client interactions or relationships with current clients, their romantic spouses, or their household members are prohibited ” ( A.5.a ) . Associating to former clients, “ Sexual or romantic counselor-client interactions or relationships with former clients, their romantic spouses, or their household members are prohibited for a period of 5 old ages following the last professional contact. Counselors, before prosecuting in sexual or romantic interactions or relationships with clients, their romantic spouses, or client household members after 5 old ages following the last professional contact, show premeditation and papers ( in written signifier ) whether the interactions or relationship can be viewed as exploitive in some manner and/or whether there is still possible to harm the former client ; in instances of possible development and/or injury, the counsellor avoids come ining such an interaction or relationship ” ( A.5.b ) . In this instance, Rachel ‘s emotional strength and emphasis generated due to hard or conflicted personal relational state of affairss may overrule her apprehension of healthy curative and relational procedures. In add-on, it suggests clients, such as Rachel, who possess small curative cognition associating to boundary misdemeanors, or with limited apprehension of therapy, are peculiarly vulnerable ( Marmor, 2000 ) . The ACA Code of Ethical Standards besides states that counsellors act to avoid harming their clients ( A.4.a ) . During their sexual relationship, Rachel ‘s former practician may presume she is responsible in the relationship and can prolong herself emotionally and psychologically. However, non all clients have this ability and expression to their healer for support. Engaging in a double sexualized relationship is destructive to client public assistance and is a dysfunctional agencies to offer ‘security ‘ to a vulnerable client ( Robinson, & A ; Reid, 2000 ) .

Techniques to turn to this instance are complex, yet imperative to see. First, Rachel ‘s former healer demands to be reported to the province licensing board for ethical ailments of sexual familiarities with a client ( Hall, 2001 ) . During this procedure, Rachel should cognize that a breach of client confidentiality will happen as a portion of the coverage procedure. Next, Rachel must happen a reputable lawyer because there is a good possibility that the former healer may deny the accusal or fault Rachel by stating she is doing false claims. The former healer could be the topic of a case. Malpractice is a serious legal construct affecting the failure of a professional to supply the degree of services or to implement the accomplishment that is usually expected of other professionals ( Hall, 2001 ) . He risks holding his licence taken off or suspended every bit good as losing his insurance coverage and his credibleness as a healer. This ethical misdemeanor could hold been avoided if the healer carefully considered the kineticss of a healthy curative relationship and put the client ‘s demands before his ain.

Decision-Making Procedure

The ethical determination devising procedure used for the instance of Rachel would be to first specify the job. Rachel is in hunt of guidance because she engaged in an confidant, sexual relationship with her former psychologist. Rachel presently feels guilty and resentful toward her former psychologist and is sing self-destructive ideas. The following critical measure in ethical determination devising is measuring moral rules ( Corey, Corey, & A ; Callanan, 2011 ) . In this instance, the moral rule that would take precedence is non-maleficence. Rachel expressed her demand to speak with a counsellor and feels she has a limited figure of people she can swear. Since the former healer violated the sense of non-maleficence, it may do Rachel injury if the current healer were to withstand her trust because Rachel could panic and ache herself if she feels she has no other option. Rachel must organize a trusting relationship with her current counsellor, and the counsellor must keep that sense of trust. The following measure would be to speak with a supervisor or co-worker to hear other positions or thoughts. The 4th measure is to do certain as her current healer, determinations are non influenced by emotions ( Corey, Corey, & A ; Callanan, 2011 ) . Having emotional consciousness can guarantee an accurate appraisal of the state of affairs. Therefore, promoting Rachel and edifice up her sense of dignity is indispensable. By making a program that includes psychological aid along with legal action, Rachel will probably experience as though she has some control when measuring each option. The concluding measure is execution, and the healer should assist Rachel follow through with her program.


Dr. Jennifer Lambert is a clinical psychologist and received her Psy.D from the University of Illinois. During the 45-minute interview, she provided thoughtful penetration into the issues associating to ethical criterions and patterns, transference, multicultural concerns, boundary misdemeanors, and supervising. First, doing ethical determinations involves developing an credence for covering with grey countries and get bying with uncertainness. Even though consciousness of the ethical criterions of one ‘s profession is important, this cognition is non plenty. Ethical codifications provide way in helping one in doing the best informed-decisions for the benefit of clients and the practician. These criterions may differ among bureaus, and it is critical that every human service professional becomes cognizant of the exact policies of the bureau.

Second, Dr. Lambert discussed an illustration of transference. She is a supervisor for an adolescent mental wellness clinic and works with many great co-workers. One of her co-workers is an first-class healer, but frequently she asks Dr. Lambert for matrimonial advice. She does her best non to rock her co-worker because Dr. Lambert knows the injury it could do to their relationship. Alternatively, she encourages her co-worker to inspect her ain beliefs and values without enforcing or giving direct advice. This narrative is an illustration of co-worker transference and possible dependence if Dr. Lambert is non cautious when discoursing these issues.

Following, Dr. Lambert spoke about multicultural concerns and boundary misdemeanors in therapy. As a healer, it is cardinal to cognize and appreciate one ‘s ain cultural background, yet non push values onto clients. To be effectual with diverse clients, healers must accept and observe cultural differences and see them as a positive acquisition experience. By practising credence while being funny, it will convey understanding between civilizations and aid in spread outing trust in the curative relationship. Maintaining professional and personal boundaries is a necessity in the curative procedure. If a healer becomes emotionally over-involved with a client, counsellors will probably lose their objectiveness and finally can non exert proper judgement in the assisting procedure. When reding striplings, keeping appropriate boundaries can be complicated. Often, an stripling sees the healer as a friend to confide in, but if the immature client becomes excessively dependent, relationship boundaries may be crossed. This can besides go against boundaries if the healer does non turn to the dependence.

Last, a critical component in the licensing procedure is supervising. Dr. Lambert believes the function played by the supervisor is of import for the appropriate development of the trainee. The supervisee should be unfastened to the thoughts and leading manner of the supervisor. Above all, supervising was developed to assist future healers enhance their competence and during this procedure, the trainee will larn the necessary accomplishments that will help them in their full professional calling. One challenge to supervising is the uninterrupted deficit of qualified professionals and the incapableness to provide sufficient hours for proper competence development. When taking a supervisor, an person with a good lesson and ethical attack is an country of concern. This factor would help in developing a proper personal attack, and a supervisor must learn by illustration the importance of understanding transference/counter-transference, diverseness, and resonance. Supervision is a support system, which gives the chance to show challenges that one may non be prepared to cover with when they occur.


Ethical determination devising in the guidance field is a go oning appraisal with no simple replies. In order to promote the wellbeing of clients, counsellors must ever equilibrate the professional ethical codifications with their ain life experiences and personal values to do critical determinations about how to help their clients successfully ( Redlich, 1990 ) . Therefore, understanding the ethical codifications and the consequence of unequal guidance patterns are helpful for counsellors as they maintain curative relationships with clients. Nonetheless, even though professional codifications of moralss offer guidelines for how counsellors should move with clients, they do non give complete replies for how counsellors must move in every circumstance. Ideally, counsellors should incorporate their cognition of professional moralss with good judgement to ease the best involvements of their clients. It is imperative for counsellors to make personal and professional boundaries with their clients in order to avoid jobs such as unethical guidance, favouritism, development, injury, etc ( Corey, Corey, & A ; Callanan, 2011 ) . Counselors must handle all clients respectfully, pityingly, and responsibly, while non compromising the professional relationship established with them.


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