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Romance and Ethics in Counselling

Consider the following scenario: A 40-year old therapist becomes attracted to a 38-year old client and soon realizes that the feelings are mutual. They discuss the situation and mutually agree to terminate therapy and to begin dating. They eventually get married.

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Source: Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association Code of Ethics

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Romance and ethics in counselling

*Consider the following scenario: A 40-year old therapist becomes attracted to a 38-year old client and soon realizes that the feelings are mutual. They discuss the situation and mutually agree to terminate therapy and to begin dating. They eventually get married.

(1) In considering the dilemma in this vignette, the following sections in the American Counseling Association (ACA, 2004) that is applicable to this vignette include: ACA -- "Roles and Relationships with clients" and are paraphrased in the following summary.

-A.5.a states that a sexual or romantic counselor-client interaction or relationships is prohibited.
A.5b -sets a time limit of 5 years on therapist/client romantic relationship sexual or interactions including relations with former clients.
ACA (Sections F.3.b. and F.10) - addresses multiple relationships under the heading of "Sexual Relationships" extends this standard to include current supervisors, students, and research participants.

(2) The ...

Solution Summary

This solution describes a specific dilemma involving a romantic relationship between the therapist and client. The standards applied to this dilemma by the ACA and CCPA ethical codes are summarized.

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