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Benefits and Downsides of Dual Relationships in Counseling

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Multiple relationships are described as practitioners who are in a professional position with a client and takes part in a different role with the client, or with a family member or friend of that individual. When having multiple relationships, it can make it challenging in deciding what are the best interests of the clients. While there are difficulties when combining professional and personal relationships, there are both pros and cons connected with dual relationships.

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Dual Relationships

First let’s begin with the downside of multiple relationships. It is important to note, that it is crucial in professionals educating themselves on how to significantly control multiple relationships. By doing this can result in avoiding stepping over boundaries. This can put the therapist at risk of abusing their power to control the client to their advantage and to the client’s disadvantage. Examples of multiple relationships are having an intimate relationship with a client or becoming emotionally involved. Other examples can connect with money by either borrowing or giving money to the client. Secondly, there is the possibility of the professional lacking to pay attention of the signs of the relationship with the individual they are working with. By the professional not being aware of the relationship, warning signs can result in one not being aware of them engaging in a problematic situation.

Dual relationships are frequently utilized in a mental health work environment. Next there is minimal information on non-intimate relationship boundary situations in the mental health work environments and studies on this topic of relationship situations are restrained. Inside of the mental health practice, contains ethical codes that give minimal guidance with dual connections. Inside of decision making models, are limitations to if one should create a dual relationship instead of how to control it.

To point out, there are problems in small populated communities, that have an outcome of small statistics that describe the local community. With there being a choice of limited relationships, one is preferably going to have up to 6 roles and interact with one another in various situations. Inescapable connections override significant interrelationships with people who are underlying objectives of the social environment built in with low populated communities and may happen at various levels. The various levels can range from personal to professional levels in a relationship. Inside of this field, the standard of more than one relationship is an eye opener for concern. Another concern to add, it is made aware by many that dual relationships can alter the patient’s capability of growing within a trusting and honest relationship with the counselor. This can avoid clinical judgment or negatively affect the practice in the health environment in general. It is believed professionals inside of rural communities can inherently work in a situation of extended along connections, possibly clashing roles and changed healing boundaries that can have an outcome of social situations.

Furthermore, the professional in rural environments can be at risk for different challenges. Minimal is acknowledged of how professionals cope with social grey areas, a select few can occur immediately and need a prompt response. For the difficulties to be suited, an acknowledgment of the essence of engagement objectives – recreational, geographical and lawful – that create the situation in which the services given in rural locations are important. There are three subjects that are influential with professionals who work in the mental health field such as: population, isolation, and assumptions. Scopelliti el al. (2004) states, “smaller population sizes in rural communities mean that mental health service users and practitioners are more likely to have contact in social settings or interact through participation in sporting activities or community services” (p. 955).

On the contrary there are a few positive outcomes for professionals who engage in dual relationships. According to Corey el al. (2019 “counselors consider forming multiple relationships only when its clear that such relationships are in the best interests of the client” (p. 258). First, dual relationships can enhance treatment outcomes. Those inside of the professional environment now view flexible boundaries as beneficial when used morally and that before over stepping boundaries, needs to be judged with various cases. An example would be failing to attend an event for the client for fear of overstepping boundaries. This can make the relationship between the client and professional difficult. Second is using bartering to pay for treatment when a client is unable to pay. This is beneficial to those who suffer from poverty and should be assessed with the client’s necessities, wants, current situation and background. Though bartering is beneficial it can put the therapeutic relationship at risk. Before considering bartering as a way of payment it is cautioned for the professional and client to thoroughly discuss the arrangement, and to comprehend it before resulting in agreement.

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While there are difficulties when combining professional and personal relationships, there are both pros and cons connected with dual relationships. Having dual relationships as a professional can have its challenges but it also can be beneficial depending upon how one approaches the situation aiming for a therapeutic outcome.

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