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Managing Boundaries and Multiple Relationships

Managing Boundaries and Multiple Relationships

Having multiple relationships in a professional field is not always unethical or problematic unless they lead to the harm or exploitation of clients. Corey, Corey & Corey (2019) defines multiple relationships as a relationship involving a professional playing more than one role with a client, for instance, being a therapist and simultaneously a business partner or a friend or a supervisor to a client. If a professional provides a therapeutic service to a relative or a family, this is also considered a multiple relationship. This paper offers recommendations for reducing the risk of boundary violations and crossings to protect the therapist and client from problems resulting from various relationships. Ethics codes are one way, although sometimes it is intricate and defy simple solutions. For instance, to encourage the clients’ well-being, clinicians face the challenge of balancing their life experiences and values with the ethics codes as they decide how best to help a client (Corey, Corey & Corey, 2019).

Most importantly, a professional needs to do a self-evaluation and determine whose conditions are primary, especially when it comes to matters such as sexual relationships. It would be impractical to state that a therapist may not experience feelings with a client, but how they respond to these feelings matters. If the therapeutic session proves ineffective because of the multiple relationships between a client and a professional, the therapist can refer the client to another therapist. However, if this is not necessary based on sound judgment, the therapist can consult and have an honest conversation with the colleague to determine the needs at stake and the welfare of both parties. Do you need help with your assignment ?

Ethical issues, dilemmas, conflicts, and violations about therapist multiple relationships

One of the ethical dilemmas when it comes to multiple relationships is confidentiality. For instance, mental health providers in a military setting are often military commanders’ consultants and, at the same time, providers for individual patients (Johnson et al., 2006). In such a scenario, confidentiality is likely to be compromised by the Department of Defense provisions of need to know, and the providers may be needed to shift between evaluative and clinical roles with the patients quickly.

Another ethical dilemma that often happens in multiple relationships is the core obligation of the profession to the organization and the client. For instance, the mental health provider’s first obligation is to the military mission as a commissioned officer. Ethical proscriptions against several roles may sometimes require compromising or direct violation to achieve the military mission. A good example is the case of Harvey Weinstein, a movie entrepreneur, and his lawyer and friend David Boies. In a New York article, Mr Boies had assisted in executing a contract with an investigation company that his client Weinstein had hired to help block adverse reports about him in The New York Times (Goldstein & Liptak, 2017). Mr. Boies’s company, Boies Schiller Flexner, is known for providing external legal counsel for The New York Times about three times within ten years, inclusive of a libel case. The New York Times article stated that the private investigative company that Mr. Boies helped execute a contract had been instructed to find more information on an actress who had accused Mr. Weinstein of sexual assault and to investigate what several reporters knew regarding the allegations. In this case, the relationship between the provider and other clients is in jeopardy, as The New York Times stated that it was ending its relationship with Mr. Boies’s company. Therefore, the multiple connections, in this case, have brought the issue of loyalty and a contractual breach between the provider and the client and other clients.

Historical Laws/Events

Several companies and organizations have developed laws that resolve the issues of multiple relationships. The American Counseling Association, for instance, has identified that a counsellor’s critical responsibility is respecting the dignity and promoting the client’s welfare tests that counsellors should practice only within their competence boundaries based on their supervised experience, training, education, professional experience, and professional credentials at the national and state level (Elliot, 2011). Based on such tenets, this ethical topic has transformed so that counsellors are prohibited from providing counselling services to family, relatives, and friends because this takes away their objectivity. Besides, counsellors have become well informed of the risks associated with taking clients with whom they have past relationships.

Impact of Human Service Delivery

Culture plays a vital role in determining the appropriateness of multiple relationships. For instance, in American culture, a therapeutic session is more than the scheduled 50-minute session. Therapy involves various activities such as travels, ceremonies, shared meals, shared cooking experiences, laughter, playing together, writing, storytelling, having open conversations, singing, touching, and several other activities (Corey, Corey & Corey, 2019). In this case, these activities are seen to bring healing focus. However, in Asian cultures, self-disclosure to a stranger violates cultural and family values and is often seen as taboo (Corey, Corey & Corey, 2019). Thus, some Asian clients prefer traditional counselling involving their close relatives as providers. However, numerous cultural groups like having suggestions and advice from an expert because they believe experts have a higher status and more knowledge in handling such matters (Corey, Corey & Corey, 2019). In such a case, a client in Asia would have to violate their cultural stipulations to get help, negatively affecting the service delivery of professionals in the Asian communities. Perhaps guidelines, in this case, would help.


In conclusion, confidentiality, primary responsibility, and loyalty are usually at stake when a multiple relationship is involved. Such ethical and problematic issues can be avoided in providing service by having a well-guided code of ethics that the professional comprehends and vows to abide by. If counselling a friend or a family is not prohibited, a well-informed consultation should be done to avoid ineffectiveness in the therapeutic sessions and results. More importantly, engaging in sexual relationships between a professional and a client should be avoided at all costs because, in most cases, the clients’ healing is not achieved, leading to therapy failure.


Corey, G., Corey, M.S. & Corey, C. (2019). Issues & Ethics in Helping Professionals, 10E. Boston: Cengage Learning.

Elliott, G. R. (2011). When Values and Ethics Conflict: The Counselor’s Role and Responsibility. Alabama Counseling Association Journal, 37(1), 39-45.

Goldstein, M. & Liptak, A. (Nov 7, 2017). Weinstein Work Pulls Lawyer Back into Ethical Debate—the New York Times.

Johnson, W. B., Bacho, R., Heim, M., & Ralph, J. (2006). Multiple-role dilemmas for military mental health care providers. Military medicine, 171(4), 311-315.


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This is for a Human Service Profession Course in chapter 7 – Managing Boundaries and Multiple Relationships.

Managing Boundaries and Multiple Relationships

Managing Boundaries and Multiple Relationships

1. Description

Like the mid-term essay, write a 3-page minimum paper (not including the cover/title and reference page) on a topic that interests you from Chapters 7-17. Lengthy articles will be accepted. Write about a topic you did not know before you took this class, one you knew little about or one that particularly interests you. TrBepecific with your topic since it is a relatively short essay. I am leaving the topic open so you can write about an area that engages and excites you. I would suggest looking at the Chapter sub-headings, weekly discussions, or journals for ideas on specific topics. If you are unsure about your topic, email me for feedback.

2. Outline

Please respond to the following areas in your paper:
1. Provide an introduction statement or thesis and a general overview of the main topic discussed in the Introduction. What issue or problem does this paper address?
2. What are the ethical issues, dilemmas, conflicts, and violations have occurred related to the topic? Provide examples to support your response, Including significant news events, social/public policies, social movements, or human service programs related to this topic.
3. What past and current historical events or laws have impacted or affected the ethical topic. ? How has thimeroscasetopic changed over time?
4. How does this topic impact human service delivery? How does this topic affect service delivery with individuals and families in the community? What role does culture play?
5. Summarize the main points and discuss any concerns/questions for the future. What
recommendations do you have to address current and future issues or problems in human services?

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