Professionals’ ethical guidelines are in place for the protection of public and their welfare. Dual relationship and conflict of interest are among the things that causes exploitation and harm to the public that the professions serve. Dual relationship occurs when a professional behavior analyst has a professional relationship with their client, and doubles up to have a different relationship with the same client (Cohen-Filipic, 2015). This paper aims at discussing some aspects of dual relationship and the reasons why such relationships can be problematic in terms of professional ethics in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis.
Both the Licensed behavior analyst and the certified behavior analyst assistants must be aware that existence of a dual relationship could be jeopardize the existence of professional service appropriateness and objective. In most of the situations and communities, it is both unreasonable and unfeasible for the behavior analyst to avoid social and the nonprofessional contacts with people such their clients, research participants, students and supervisors. There exists some dual relationship difficult to avoid, and these are usually harmless. However, it is not easy to identify the relationships that would turn out to be benign, and the ones that would be problematic (Op.nysed.gov, 2018).
There are several aspects of dual relationship. It occurs when the behavior analyst has more than one type of relationship with the client or therapist. The aspects include; an expert association coupled with a preceding personal affiliation, an occupational relationship coming up because of proficient relation, communal and/or private relationship coming up during the expert’s relation, and differential professional relationship. The dual relationship can be categorized into two types; sexual and non-sexual (Op.nysed.gov, 2018).
Dual relationship can bring with it many problems in terms of professional ethics. The relationship might impair the objectivity of the behavior analyst, as well as the ability of the behavior analyst to effectively perform his or her functions as a behavior analyst. Furthermore, the dual relationship might cause harm or exploitation to the other party. The sexual dual relationship is highly linked with negative outcome, since such relationship causes harm to the emotional and social well-being of the client (Op.nysed.gov, 2018). Apart from being harmful to the client, it damages the credibility of the profession.
Several steps can be taken by a professional in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis so as to be cognizant of the possibility of formation of a dual relationship. The anticipated relationship must be observed based on three-dimensional analysis, either the possibility of the relationship cascading to the right side that leads to long and undetermined end, or if it falls in between the middle, or on the right side of the dimension. But whenever the relationship looks highly unsuitable, the analyst must endeavor to reject or abandon the expected relationship. The analyst who is involved in teaching, mentoring, or is a supervisor to a student must take very good care to maintain the appropriate boundaries so as to avoid jeopardizing his or her professional judgement (Op.nysed.gov, 2018).
Dual relationship has the ability of jeopardizing the objectivity and appropriateness of professionals’ service. There are several aspects of dual relationships, which can be categorized as either sexual or non-sexual. There are several reasons why existence of such a relationship can be problematic in terms of professional ethics. As a professional, one must always be watchful of possibility of such as dual relationship forming.
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