discussion 2 1 responses

I’ve already done my initial post. Please just type a one to two paragraph response to the two students posts below replying to their posts. Here is the topic:

Describe two examples of multiple role relationships.

Why are multiple role relationships potentially problematic? How can multiple role relationships be either avoided or handled professionally?

Can you think of an instance in which a multiple role relationship might be permissible?

Student One’s Post:

One example of a multiple role relationship is a current one that I have with a coworker now. My current boss is also a friend. We not only have a professional relationship at work, but we also enjoy going out with a couple of the other coworkers for happy hour on a Friday night together. We do have an understanding that work is work and we for the most part leave our work at work, although that’s not always the case of course. We also both understand that neither of us would discuss anything of confidentiality with each other or any of our coworkers while outside of work. If something does come up in conversation that we don’t feel comfortable divulging or getting into we just quickly change the conversation. This is definitely a difficult relationship outside of work to uphold ethical boundaries, but we do both have backgrounds in HR and work for the HR department and have similar guidelines and understandings for each other. This could ethically be problematic if any confidential information was divulged or situations come up from work while outside of work with coworkers, but again we keep these situations in check for the most part. At work could be a challenge as well however I accept constructive criticism very well and my friend knows that so she’s not afraid to tell me if and when I’m not performing at work to her standards. I think this situation can be equally related to business professionals who go out to lunch together or out for dinner with each other; I like to think of Wolf of Wall Street in this example.

Another example I can think of where a multiple role relationship comes into play is one that I’ve seen occur and I’m sure many other have witnessed before as well. When I was in high school, I had a soccer coach who was also close friends with a couple of the players parents. They were always seen together going out for drinks, dinner, etc. and the problem with this multiple role relationship was that the kids of the parents were favored when it came to game time. The coach could not separate the relationships and so he felt pressured to start and keep the kids in who’s parents he was friends with. This was very problematic and went on for years, but parents never confronted the coach about it or complained about it to the right people to fix the issue.

Both of these examples can be problematic if not dealt with and handled properly. Fortunately, in my case, my friend and I have similar backgrounds and we are on the same page with things, so we can keep both of these relationships in check. I think this multiple role relationship is permissible with our understanding. For the second example on the other hand, the multiple role relationships had crossed over and created conflicts and so that scenario had become ethically problematic. In this scenario, to avoid potential problems, he should explain to the parents that he is not going to favor their kids in the games and during the games he should rotate the kids out to show there’s no favoritism.

Overall, multiple role relationships can be very tricky and if both parties are not objective and have similar agreements to both relationships, it can result in unethical behavior (Koocher & Keith-Spiegel, 2016). Such relationships should be avoided if at all possible. If a student offers a gift to a teacher, then the teacher should politely decline the offer as to not show favoritism throughout the class. Professional relationships should be upheld first, and second role relationships should only be applicable if both individuals understand the boundaries within both relationships so as not to become unethical at any point in time (Koocher & Keith-Spiegel, 2016).


Koocher, G.P. & Keith-Spiegel, P. (2016). Ethics in Psychology and the Mental Health Professions. New York, New York: Oxford University Press.

Student Two’s Post:

One example of a multiple role relationship is if a therapist has a client and then unknowingly marries the client’s sister. The client/doctor relationship could be over, but there are still overlapping roles because the therapists knows personal information on his new brother-in-law. Ethically he may not discuss any of this information with his wife. However, it may also be hard for the therapist to be bias if the client reported information about his sister. A second example of a multiple role relationship is if a psychologist has a client and then they both join the same afternoon salsa dance class for lessons. The therapist then becomes a student with the client. The psychological professional is bound ethically and not allowed to disclose his doctor/patient relationship with anyone else in the class. He also can not talk about what transpires in the dance class during therapy sessions.

Multiple role relationships are potentially problematic when they can exploit the client and cause more harm than good. A client could misunderstand the relationship roles and be harmed mentally when they feel a sense of isolation from the therapist. Multiple relationship roles can also cause individuals to cross boundaries and psychological professionals should evaluate and understand the risks of taking on these relationships with their clients.

Multiple role relationships can be avoided or handled professionally by avoiding any other relationships with their clients if possible. Professionals should not disclose information about themselves, make promises to clients, and never accept gifts or money. If multiple role relationships can’t be avoided, the therapist should always behave professionally and maintain proper boundaries.

An instance in which a multiple role relationship might be permissible is when a client becomes an employee. A therapist could treat a client and then receive a job offer to join a reputable company. Once there, he realizes the company also employs his client and he will now be his client’s boss. The psychologist is bound by ethics and can not report that the employee is a current or former client. The therapist has to separate his roles with the client and only evaluate the individual based on their job performance. As long as there are no boundaries crossed or ethical violations, the relationship should be acceptable.


Koocher, G. P., & Keith-Spiegel, P. C. (2016). Ethics in psychology and the mental health professions: Standards and cases. New York: Oxford University Press.

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