Dual Relationships

Psychologists should be aware that the objectivity and appropriateness of professional services could be jeopardized by the existence of dual relationships. Dual relationships occur when a psychologist has more than one type of relationship with a patient or client, such as:

  • A professional relationship and a prior personal relationship
  • A business relationship that develops during a professional relationship
  • Social or personal relationships that develop during a professional relationship
  • Differing professional relationships, such as performing custody evaluations with patients or clients who are in other treatment or business relationships

Sexual relationships with patients/clients either during or within at least two years following the professional relationship may not occur.

When psychologists are involved in a mentoring, teaching or supervisory relationship with a student, the psychologist should take care to maintain appropriate boundaries so that his or her professional judgment is not jeopardized.

The relationship of psychologists who act as supervisors for persons who are gaining experience for licensure purposes is principally with the licensing agency and not with the supervisee. That is, the supervisor must attest to the licensing agency that the supervisee has completed the experience in accordance with the regulations for licensure. This means that the supervisee should not employ the supervisor when the supervisee is gaining experience for licensure. In addition, supervisors would be wise to avoid supervising relatives and close friends.

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Last Updated: June 11, 2009