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Relationship Between Therapist and Client

Gutheil (1989) also points out that certain psychological disorders can sometimes predispose patients toward therapist seduction. It is noted that patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD) are particularly likely to evoke boundary violations, including sexual acting out. Therapists who familiarize themselves with the psychodynamics of these patients and countertransference problems attendant to these psychodynamics can avert the serious outcomes that result from such behavior.

A number of additional motives and emotions have been discussed by Gabbard (1991) who notes that common themes include: the confusion of one's own need to be loved with those of the patient, particularly when one is vulnerable due to personal problems; the fantasy that love in and of itself may be curative; and the tendency of the therapist-patient dyad to reenact incestuous sexual involvement from the patient's past. Gabbard suggests that familiarity with these principal dynamics should be part of every therapist's education, and states that recognition of these dynamics may serve as early warning signals for one's own vulnerability to involvement.

Awareness of the diverse motives that lead to sexual/relational involvement is the first sept a therapist can take toward developing a plan for action in such situations. However, there are a number of additional concrete steps, any one of which or all that can be taken. These include:

(1) Confronting the issue directly with the client.

(2) Discussing the problem with another therapist.

(3) Continuing to see the client but getting into therapy in order to handle the countertransference issues or any other factors contributing to the problem.

(4) Referring the client elsewhere, waiting some recommended period of time and if the feelings still persist, then dating the client.

(5) Referring the client elsewhere and refusing any further contact regardless of his or her post-treatment status.

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Relationship Between Therapist and Client. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 15:27, August 17, 2017, from
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