The Client / Counselor Relationship
A Unique & Special Relationship
Counselors have a unique relationship with their clients. Counselors seek to build a positive, trusting, collaborative relationship in which the client can feel save and valued. Although many of the same features are ideally a part of relationships with close friends or physically intimate partners, counselors are neither friends nor can we be physically intimate with clients. In a healthy friendship or physically intimate relationship, each individual plays a mutual role. Each invests in the relationship, and each expects to get something out of the relationship. There is give and take on both sides.
The counseling relationship is different. It is a professional relationship, and we receive a fee for our services. Our professional code of ethics makes clear that our primary responsibility is to respect your dignity and promote your welfare. The entire focus during treatment, and even after treatment, is on what is best for you, the client. Keeping the focus on you is important. This will help your counseling be the most effective. For us it really is all about you.
Dual relationships are when counselors and clients have another relationship besides just client and counselor. This could include being family members, neighbors, business associates, or in the same social circle, as well as others. Counselors try to avoid dual relationships whenever possible, not because we don't like you, but because we want to protect your confidentiality, and we don't want to even appear to be taking advantage of our special role as your counselor in any way. We want to make sure your counseling is all about you, which is more difficult if we are also in another type of relationship. We also want to avoid any situation that might be awkward for you, or that might interfere with your counseling. This is why, if we see you around town, we won't make any sign that we know you. You may not want to explain to others how you know us. We leave it up to you if you would like to approach us, be we encourage you to consider whether doing so is in your best interest. Your counselor would be happy to discuss this with you more.
Friending on Facebook
and other social media
As counselors, we do not accept friend or contact requests from current or former clients on any social networking site (Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.). We believe that adding clients as friends or contacts on these sites can compromise your confidentiality and our respective privacy. It may also blur the boundaries of our therapeutic relationship. If you have any questions about this, please bring them up with your counselor, and together you can discuss this more.
It is never acceptable for a counselor to have a physically intimate relationship with a client.