Client/Therapist Relationship

Postby symbolic » Mon Aug 27, 2007 3:30 am

Legally, can there be a friendship between clients and therapists? What are the guidelines for out of work encounters?
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#1

Postby Sluagh » Mon Aug 27, 2007 10:43 am

No. No friendship between client and counsellor.#

Every encounter with the therapist outside the counselling sessions SHOULD be brought into the room and worked with - never ignored.
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#2

Postby symbolic » Mon Aug 27, 2007 9:19 pm

What about after therapy has ceased?
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#3

Postby Michael Lank » Mon Aug 27, 2007 9:32 pm

symbolic wrote:Legally, can there be a friendship between clients and therapists? What are the guidelines for out of work encounters?


What country are you based in? The legislation (if any) relating to this will depend upon where you are.

In the UK there is no law against friendship between clients and therapists.
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#4

Postby Sluagh » Tue Aug 28, 2007 6:15 am

There is no law, but there are the ethics of psychotherapy and counselling. And they are just as important as our 'LAW' as it is all about human dignity and human rights, the well being & protection of client and counsellor. It IS the law if you are with the bacp and a therapist. To fail acting upon those ethics can mess the counsellor (burn out) or the client up even more!! And it cost you your job!
Have a read of this. http://www.bacp.co.uk/ethical_framework It might give you some more insight.
The counsellors duty is to promote the clients well b eing and to avoid harming the client. Any relationship other then the therapeutic one can cause harm to the client.
There are many many reasons why this could be harmful.
One of the biggest reasons is once you are a friend, therapy does not work anymore. Even if therapy stops, the relationship is not based on equality as the counsellor knows so much about the client yet the client knows nothing about the counsellor.
It needs to be explored why the wish is there for a friendship - from both sides.

Aswell, if the counsellor is not careful, the client who has been befriended can scream 'abuse' when things go wrong in the 'friendship'
If a friendship does happen, I woulqd think that talking about it thoughrouly is very important. The reasons why and how.

Of course one can never say never and sometimes people become friends. As long as it is not WHile receiving therapy from this person!! Therapy would have to stop as it would not work if the therapsit is now a friend.
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#5

Postby Michael Lank » Tue Aug 28, 2007 6:47 am

There are a number of issues, which seem to be getting confused:

a) The law, which is what the original poster was asking about.

b) Ethics, is it ethical for a therapist and client to become friends? This is totally subjective; at what point are people 'friends'? In most human interactions people either like or dislike other people, they do not feel completely neutral. If both people like each other are they developing a friendship? Ethics are also completely subjective.

c) Efficacy; does being 'friends' make a client/therapist relationship less effective? I am not aware of any research on this, but subjectively we have all experienced or witnessed friends being very effectively therapeutic to each other, but they don't usually call it 'therapy'.

There is always a low level risk that a client will scream (or whisper!) abuse about the client, forming a friendship may increase or lessen the risk of that, I'm not aware of any statistics in this regard.

You say 'The counsellors duty is to promote the clients well being and to avoid harming the client. Any relationship other then the therapeutic one can cause harm to the client.' Yes, it can cause harm, as indeed the therapeutic relationship can, is there any evidence that it does in practice? I would hope that a friendship would be beneficial!

What the BACP ethical framework prohibits is sexual relations with clients, it says 'Sexual relations with clients are prohibited. ‘Sexual relations’
include intercourse, any other type of sexual activity or sexualised behaviour. Practitioners should think carefully about, and exercise considerable caution before, entering into personal or business relationships with former clients'.
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#6

Postby Sluagh » Tue Aug 28, 2007 7:20 am

I will not comment any further on this. All I have to say is that you are not a counsellor/psychotherapist.

does being 'friends' make a client/therapist relationship less effective?
Yes! I am not talking about using counselling skills on someone (which can also be done between friends) I am talking about counselling and psychotherapy.

Psychotherapy is not just 'some talking or listening'. Psychotherapy is a very healing tool if done properly. If it is not done properly it can mess the client and counslelor up forever or for a very long time.

Ethics ARE the law for counsellors and psychotherapists.

A counsellor can not be a counsellor and friend at the same time. That just shows me how very little you actually know about this profession. And I have to say I am concerend that, as a moderator, you are actually acting unethically right now. If one doesnt know much about a subject - ithink it is best to leave it to the ones who do know something about it.

I dont do statistics. I do FEELINGS and COMMEN SENSE. Statistics are for those who dont trust their own judgement.

You do not go and see a counsellor and pay them to be your friend. Go to a dating agency or friends agency instead.

The therapeutic relationship needs to be held therapeutic otherwise the harm towards the client is even bigger. It cannot be friendship.
Friendship in the counselling relationship is NOT beneficial.


What the BACP ethical framework prohibits is sexual relations with clients, it says 'Sexual relations with clients are prohibited. ‘Sexual relations’
include intercourse, any other type of sexual activity or sexualised behaviour. Practitioners should think carefully about, and exercise considerable caution before, entering into personal or business relationships with former clients'.


You obviously have not read the framework.
Non-maleficence involves: avoiding sexual, financial, emotional or any other form of client exploitation; avoiding incompetence or malpractice; not providing services when unfit to do so due to illness, personal circumstances or intoxication. The practitioner has an ethical responsibility to strive to mitigate any harm caused to a client even when the harm is unavoidable or unintended.

And should the counsellor feel like becoming friends with the client it will be for the benefit of the counsllor NOT the client. And that is a form of abuse.

I am very concerend that there are no moderators on this 'practitioners loubge' who are actually qualified counsellors'psychotherapists and who are able to give ethical advice to people who are obviously very vulnerable.

I read in one of your websites "I am a professional, qualified hypnotherapist, with a
Diploma in Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy from
Uncommon Knowledge"
That is very concerning. Although you hold a 'diploma' in psychotherapy you are no psychotherapist. I wonder why that is.
Very concerning indeed....

Anyway, I have voiced my view on this and hope you (the original poster) can take at least a few things with you.
Good luck.
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#7

Postby Michael Lank » Tue Aug 28, 2007 6:02 pm

I have a friend who practised psychodynamic counselling for years and was in agreement with this aspect of the BACP ethics, since she has trained in brief solution focussed therapy and hypnotherapy she has changed her views on this and says how refreshing that is.


> All I have to say is that you are not a counsellor/psychotherapist.

I really think that a comment like this requires a little more explanation. You know very little of my beliefs and values and nothing of my actual practice as a therapist. This seems to be an ad hominem argument along the lines of anyone who disagrees with your ethics and understanding of the BACP's code of ethics, is not a counsellor/psychotherapist'. A nice example of black and white thinking.


> Psychotherapy is a very healing tool if done properly. If it is not done properly it can mess the client and counslelor up forever or for a very long time.

I agree, except that the 'mess' can be rectified!


> Ethics ARE the law for counsellors and psychotherapists.

Ok to you they are synonymous. To me they are not synonymous. A law can be either ethical or unethical, an ethic can be legal or illegal. They have a different meaning.

> That just shows me how very little you actually know about this profession.

I think it shows that we have different understandings of the profession.

> I do FEELINGS and COMMEN (sic) SENSE.

For many years it was common sense that the earth was flat, until people went out explored and got more informed.

> You do not go and see a counsellor and pay them to be your friend. Go to a dating agency or friends agency instead.

I totally agree.

> You obviously have not read the framework.

Incorrect, I did read that paragraph. Obviously I have a different interpretation of it from you.


> should the counsellor feel like becoming friends with the client ....that is a form of abuse.

So for you wanting to become friends with someone is a form of abuse. I do not feel abused by people wanting to become friends with me, nor do the majority of people.

>I read in one of your websites "I am a professional, qualified hypnotherapist, with a Diploma in Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy from
Uncommon Knowledge"
That is very concerning. Although you hold a 'diploma' in psychotherapy you are no psychotherapist.

I am not sure why you posted this, what point you are making, my best guess is that is a repetition of the same ad hominem argument that you made at the start, which I have already addressed. In this respect I would also ask you to familiarise yourself with the Forum Rules.
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#8

Postby bea3x » Thu Aug 30, 2007 10:12 pm

Actually there are laws, I am not sure in which countries they apply and under what form.

I know that in most (if not all) countries there is a 2 years limit that must pass before a counselor/therapist can have an intimate relationship with a client.

After doing a bit of research I found this article:

"After nearly a 15 year debate, during which time the rules were unclear except for the fact that, after June 1987, it was recommended that terminating in order to have sex was to be treated as a clear violation, the American Psychological Assn. (APA) created an absolute prohibition for two years following termination of therapy. "

Unfortunately I can't post the link, but if you search on Google for "client therapist relationship 2 years" you will get relevant results on your query.
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#9

Postby Michael Lank » Thu Aug 30, 2007 10:24 pm

Hi

Here is the link to that article.

This article is not about forming friendships in general, but about 'sexual relationships with former patients' specifically and is limited to North America.

The section that you quote is not statute, but the APA's rules.

The article does mention licensing requirement varying from state to state. The only statute mentioned is in relation to Minnesota.
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#10

Postby bea3x » Thu Aug 30, 2007 10:25 pm

After reading through your replies in detail, there are two things that should be pointed out:

1. Whether it is legal or illegal to have a relationship with a client is not the main threat. National Psychological Associations have clear rules on this aspect and a counselor will put him/herself to a high risk of losing his/her license to practice if they pursue this type of relationship.

2. Intimate relationships with a client during or after therapy is considered to be a form of abuse in which underlying psychological factors related to codependence and transference are involved. Should a client decide that this relationship was emotionally harmful, abusive or traumatic during or after it was consumed, this represents solid ground for a legal suit against the counselor, who will - most probably - also lose their license to practice in the process.

Threats, ethics, legality or illegality are less important though, the more important issues that should be addressed are precisely the factors that led to this situation, and finding a healthy solution for both parties.
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#11

Postby bea3x » Thu Aug 30, 2007 10:35 pm

Michael Lank wrote:Hi


This article is not about forming friendships in general, but about 'sexual relationships with former patients' specifically and is limited to North America.

The section that you quote is not statute, but the APA's rules.

The article does mention licensing requirement varying from state to state. The only statute mentioned is in relation to Minnesota.


I stand corrected. For a moment I thought we were talking about intimate relationships between clients and therapists.

Perhaps this information can be useful for those clients or therapists who are in this situation.

Friendship with a counselor is not illegal or unethical, although before therapy ends, it is considered as boundary crossing (but has no legal/ethical repercussions on the therapist). Out-of-therapy interactions can have a negative effect on the results of the therapy though, one of the main reasons why therapists cannot become counselors for their friends.
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#12

Postby Michael Lank » Thu Aug 30, 2007 10:42 pm

Hi bea3x,

I do not know of the situation outside the UK, where I am based. In the UK there is at present no licensing of therapists.

I would advise all therapists to abide by any code of ethics and statute to which they subscribe or are subject to.

The code of ethics that I have subscribed to does not disallow friendships with clients, and in with regard to sexual relationships says that the therapist should terminate the therapy and refer the client to another therapist.

In your point 1, does this 'type of relationship' refer to friendship and/or sexual relations? In which countries?
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#13

Postby bea3x » Thu Aug 30, 2007 10:54 pm

Point 1 refers to intimate relationships with clients. Having read your reply only after I posted mine, it might not be too clear.

The Romanian Psychological Association (where I live) has strict rules against any form of sexual contact with a client. Similarly, APA forbids sexual contact with clients during therapy and 2 years after therapy ended.

I'm not sure if this answers your question?
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#14

Postby Michael Lank » Thu Aug 30, 2007 10:57 pm

Hi bea3x,

Yes, thank you that does answer my question. I wanted to be clear as the original poster was asking about friendships, rather than sexual relationships.
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