Role Boundaries In Therapeutic Relationships

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The American Psychological Association (2010) ethics code defines a multiple relationship as “one in which a practitioner is in a professional role with a person in addition to another role with that same individual.” In the present paper, the role boundaries play in therapeutic relationships is explored, as well as boundary crossing and violations. Boundary crossings can enrich therapy, serve the treatment plan, and strengthen the therapist-client working relationship. They can also undermine the therapy, severe the therapist-patient alliance, and cause immediate or long-term harm to the client (Pope & Keith-Spiegel, 2008). It is reasoned that when clinicians engage in multiple relationships with their clients, ethical dilemmas may arise,…show more content…
Their only requirements were that they had to be licensed professionals and practicing for the past 5 years. Their focus of investigation was on the attitudes and practices in regards to "dual professional roles, social involvements, financial involvements, and incidental involvements" (Borys & Pope, 1989, p. 284). In regards to the dual professional roles, the results indicated that the majority of participants’ surveyed (2,133 male and female clinicians) believed that dual relationships were unethical and rarely ever engaged in these boundary crossing behaviors (Borys & Pope, 1989, p. 287). Specifically, female therapists viewed dual relationships as significantly less ethical, though a higher percentage of male clinicians engaged in sexual and nonsexual dual relationships. The majority of clinicians rated unethical situations to include, "sexual activity with a client before termination of therapy (98.3%), sexual activity with a client after termination of therapy (68.4%), and inviting clients to a personal party or social event (63.5%). In only two cases did fewer than 10% of the respondents rate a behavior as never ethical: accepting an invitation to a client's special occasion (6.3%) and accepting a gift worth less than $10 (3.0%) (Borys & Pope, 1989, p. 288). In comparison to the three mental health professions (psychologists, psychiatrists, and social works) in relation to dual relationships, psychologists tended to engage with greater frequency in incidental involvements, whereas, psychiatrists tended to view dual relationships as less ethical (Borys & Pope, 1989, p. 290). Nevertheless, there was no significant difference among the three professions in terms of sexual or nonsexual, social, or financial involvements with clients
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