“Certain behaviors of professionals have the potential for creating a dual relationship, but they are not inherently considered to be dual relationships” (Corey et al, 2006). The problem is that it is not easy to properly identify dual relationship; this is why it may harm the counseling outcomes for both the counselor and the client. Self-assessment tools are designed to help the counselor in identifying the potential threats of dual relationships. Such self-assessment strategies are of vital importance, and can also predict the negative outcomes of dual relationships between the counselor and the client.
The results of my self-assessment have shed the light onto my attitudes towards dual relationships in my future practice. They display my desire to follow the basic ethical principles in my future work. For example, I will never accept a gift from the client, and it seems that judging dual relationships on case-to-case basis is also inappropriate for me. The results of self-assessment have their strengths and weaknesses. On the one hand, self-assessment is important for the counselor to objectively evaluate his knowledge of ethical principles.
On the other hand, self-assessment cannot exactly predict all situations and circumstances in which the counselor and the client may be involved in future. Such tools create an objective but a very general picture of the future attitudes towards dual relationships and boundary issues, and there is no guarantee that the counselor will adequately resolve such ethical dilemmas in practical situation. “Professional boundaries are components that constitute the therapeutic frame.
They can be considered to represent an “edge” or limit of the appropriate behavior by the psychoanalytic psychotherapist in the clinical setting” (Gutheil & Gabbard, 1993). The assessment and knowledge of boundary issues and dual relationships is essential for my future practice. I realize that the results of the discussed self-assessment will ultimately impact my views upon boundary issues, and will allow evaluating such issues more objectively. There is one essential problem connected with dual relationships in counseling: there are no strict criteria to judge whether these relationships are appropriate between the counselor and the client.
Numerous authors suggested that judging dual relationships on the case-to-case basis were the best means of evaluating their appropriateness (Corey et al, 2006). However, my principles will hardly allow me being involved into such kind of relationships with the client. I believe that the counselor faces boundary issues when the direction of the counseling process is initially wrong. Moreover, it is crucial for the client to be involved into the counseling decision-making. When this involvement is absent, both the client and the counselor seek other possible benefits the counseling could bring.
Corey et al (2006) state that to minimize the risks of dual relationships, the counselor must “maintain healthy boundaries from the outset, and secure the informed consent of clients and discuss with them both the potential risks and benefits of dual relationships”. The problem is that the majority of clients do not have any idea about what dual relationships are; this is why they risk being involved into such kind of relationships. Self-assessment helps better understand the implications of the dual relationships. Profound research in the area of boundary issues has made counselors and therapists aware of the risks dual relationships create.
However, there are still many authors who view potential benefits in involving clients into such type of relationships. For example, Lazarus states that a process of negotiation is appropriate when it comes to socializing with clients and having nonsexual relations with them (Corey et al, 2006). This is why self-assessment is required to determine proper attitudes which will be helpful in my future practice. Conclusion Boundary issues create considerable controversies in mental health professions, and self-assessment is the crucial tool of identifying the major risks of dual relationships in the future practice.