Ethical Decision Making

Topics: Ethics, Philosophy, Decision making Pages: 6 (1786 words) Published: February 13, 2010

Ethical Decision-Making
Trendelle Vaughn
University of Phoenix
January 17, 2010
Ethical Decision-Making
Dual or multiple relationships between a therapist and his or her client has been the subject of much controversy over the past two and half to three decades. A dual relationship may exist when the therapist takes on another role outside of his or her therapist duties. This second relationship could consist of a social, financial, or personal one that occurs at the same time as therapeutic sessions are taking place. Dual relationships between client and therapist are to be avoided at all costs; a dual relationship can be problematic for both the client and the therapist. This paper will identify what a dual relationship consists of, what the ethical dilemma of a dual relationship is, and apply each step of the first 14 steps of the ethical decision making process to a dual relationship by using a real life situation that a dual relationship came into question. Definition

Dr. Ofer Zur (2010) defined dual relationship as, “Any situation where multiple roles exist between therapist and client.” A dual relationship could consist of one in which the client is a family member, friend, student, or colleague of the therapist. Dual relationships could also be as simple as the therapist inviting his or her client out for munches, excepting invitations to parties, lending financial support to a client, or a relationship of a sexual nature. Dr. Janet Sonne stated, the 2002 American Psychological Association presented research that implied non-sexual dual relationships are sometimes unavoidable and in many cases are not considered unethical (2005, para. 4). However, a dual relationship between the client and therapist of a sexual nature is considered unethical and illegal and should be avoided at all costs. While working for a not for profit agency as a youth advisor, a colleague entered a nonsexual dual relationship with a student. Step 1: Indentify the situation

This step requires the therapist to evaluate and assess the ethical dilemma. As part of the assessment, the therapist wants to know is the ethical dilemma clearly defined, can the wording of the definition be misconstrued to fit the therapists actions, or do the definition hide or bend the important facts (Pope & Vasquez, 2007). As previously stated, a dual relationship is any situation which multiple role exits between the client and therapist. The statement clearly defines what a dual relationship is, which can be misleading or confusing to a therapist is in what action or judgment is considered to be unethical or illegal. In the example provided, the dual relationship was clearly defined as unethical. The youth advisor violated the client therapist ethics by not only establishing a relationship with the student which became more than one of a professional level, but also the course the student was invited to the advisors home. They spent an extremely large amount of time together after hours. The behavior of the youth advisor was a clear violation of work ethics and code of conduct. Step 2: Anticipate who will be affected by your decision

According to Pope and Vasquez (2007), “It is rare that our ethical decisions affect only a single client or a single colleague and no one else” (p. 111); if a situation arises where a therapist enters a dual relationship with a client how the therapist handles the situation could have an adverse affect on the client, the therapist, on his or her practice, and other clients he or she sees as well. In the scenario presented, the youth advisors decision to enter into a dual relationship with the student negatively affected him, the student, his fellow colleagues, and the company. Step 3: Figure out who, if anyone, is the client

Is the therapist confused about who the client may be or if one individual is the client and another individual is...

References: Pope, K.S. & Vasquez M.J.T. (2007). Ethics in psychotherapy and counseling. San Francisco. CA: Josey Bass.
Sonne, J. (2005). Nonsexual Multiple Relationships: A Practical Decision- Making Model for Clinicians. Retrieved January 15, 2010 from
Zur, O. (2010). Dual Relationships, Multiple Relationships & Boundaries In Psychotherapy, Counseling & Mental Health. Retrieved January 15, 2009 from
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