Dating a client
The relationship has been rationalized through a series of cutesy excuses: “Well, we only had a handful of therapy sessions … ” and, “Well, if we have a session where the previous client now becomes the therapist, it will all balance out! In no way, shape, or form is dating a current or previous therapist healthy, ethical, or socially acceptable.In California, there is a legal clause that states that a personal relationship between a previous therapist and client may be pursued two years after the termination of services.The boundaries around the therapeutic relationship are essential to the success and integrity of our profession, and I find it inexcusable for our entertainment industry to treat the subject matter so lightly and irresponsibly.We know that the mass public derives their sense of “normal” and desirable from the information presented on the screens in front of them.The therapist portrayed by Gabriel Byrne in struggled with sexual feelings toward a client in the first season of the series.I have not seen these episodes, but I know the series is highly revered and often seen by the general public as an accurate representation of therapy.
However, there are many ways to get off track throughout the process, which is why therapists need to be well-trained, licensed, ethically and emotionally stable, grounded in common sense, and masters of self-discipline and self-care.A well-trained and ethical therapist will seek professional consultation if romantic or lustful feelings arise and will follow wise counsel as to the most ethical way to proceed.Often these feelings can be worked through and resolved without any negative effect on the therapy.If the feelings persist, the responsible and legitimate therapist will control his or her impulses and refer the client to another professional.
With the help of an esteemed consultant, they can determine how best to implement the transition with the client.
Certainly the therapeutic relationship is a unique situation wherein two human beings share space in a room while playing particular roles that ask them to maintain strict discipline of their human instincts, but to share the greatest level of openness and honesty imaginable.