Ethical implications of online dating

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(Well, professionally.) Presenting: "A Day in the Life of a Matter" -- Well deserving multiple thumbs up, our enthusiastic (and often hilarious) cast of five delivers whatever the equivalent of Oscars are for this sort of thing-worthy performances.

(Though your author opted to shun the spotlight and focus on playing the role of intransigent writer/director/producer.

The client became increasingly defensive and resistant to the therapist’s advice, eventually stalking out and leaving an unpaid bill for the last two sessions.

When the therapist attempted to collect her fees using a collection agency, the client pressed an ethics complaint charging that the therapist was only after her money and her merchandise.

Circumstances can converge to form a “perfect storm” of vulnerability or temptation.

Consider the following scenarios adapted from our case files: How would you have responded to each scenario? The first incident represents the most frequently reported type of temptation.

Also, for ease of presentation, we use the term “therapist” throughout to refer to anyone delivering psychotherapy or counseling services to clients.

The therapist did not prove to be the amazing lover the client had fantasized, and, as the therapist told the ethics committee after the client pressed charges, “I learned the hard way why this client needed serious psychotherapy.” The professional association expelled the therapist and notified the licensing board in his state.

When in doubt, we advise consultation with knowledgeable colleagues and/or professional association ethics committees.

Mental health professionals may puzzle over how intelligent, educated men and women could foolishly engage in unprofessional and unethical behaviors that pose significant threats to their clients as well as to themselves.

The fifth scenario has a couple of unusual features in that the counselor did not know much about the client because the group focused solely on test-taking anxiety as opposed to the more sensitive issues that arise in individual psychotherapy.

Yet, agreeing to meet in a very cozy setting with someone who had come for help, even in a carefully circumscribed way, always holds the potential of putting the therapist in jeopardy.

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