Boundary Issues and Dual Relationships
Dual relationships and the ethical behavior that revolves around boundaries with clients present a multitude of very complicated situations to counselors where a clearly defined course of action is not always evident. Aside from no accord amongst mental health professionals and boundary issues being unavoidable at times, recognition and prediction of potential benefits or pitfalls correlated with dual relationships can prove to be troublesome as well (Remley & Herlihy, 2010). For most cases, it is best if an outline is used to discern when it is appropriate for a counselor to breach the client-counselor boundary.
Apart from the obvious dual-relationships to avoid such as sexual or romantic involvement with a current client, I have learned that it is best to remain simple when outlining measures to consider when contemplating entering into a dual relationship. Avoid all types of dual-relationships within at least five years of the client-counselor relationship unless the potential benefits can outweigh the potential harmful situations to the client all in a non-exploitive manner. Additionally, it should be a situation in which the expected outcome or issues associated with that outcome are largely transparent. Within the ACA’s Code of Ethics Section A.5.d. it states, “…the counselor must document in case records, prior to the interaction (when feasible), the rationale for such an interaction, the potential benefit, and anticipated consequences for the client or former client and other individuals significantly involved with the client or former client. Such interactions should be initiated with appropriate client consent.” (Remley & Herlihy, 2010, p. 389). The outline I propose, although simple, still incorporates the ethical behavior by which the American Counseling Association expects counselors to act when faced with a decision about whether to...