Dual Relationships with Your Therapist

Despite a common misconception, not all dual relationships are unethical or avoidable. Therapy never involves sexual or any other dual relationship that impairs the therapist’s objectivity, clinical judgment or therapeutic effectiveness or can be exploitative in nature. I will assess carefully before entering into non-sexual and non-exploitative dual relationships with clients. It is important to realize that in some communities, particularly small towns, military bases, university campus, churches, etc., multiple relationships are either unavoidable or expected. As your therapist I will never acknowledge working with anyone without his or her written permission. Many clients have chosen me as their therapist because they knew me before they entered into therapy with me and/or were aware of my stance on the topic. Nevertheless, I will discuss with you, the often-existing complexities, potential benefits and difficulties that may be involved in such relationships. Dual or multiple relationships can enhance therapeutic effectiveness but can also detract from it and often it is impossible to know which ahead of time. It is the client’s responsibility to communicate to me if the dual relationship becomes uncomfortable in any way. I will always listen carefully and respond accordingly to your feedback and I will discontinue the dual relationship if I finds it interfering with the effectiveness of the therapeutic process or your welfare. Of course you can do the same at any time.

Dr. Judith Needham-Penrose PhD, LMFT