Confronting Real Issues and
Providing Realistic Solutions
Ethical Dilemma or Appropriate Peer Interaction?
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Top Left: Jason, BHPP
Top Right: Ron, BHPP
Bottom Left: Daniel, BHPP
Bottom Right: Sammie J, BHPP
It pretty much goes without saying that one of the toughest things to establish as a peer support specialist are boundaries flexible enough to show compassion, yet rigid enough to keep the interactions with your clients both ethical and legal. In fact, one of the main reasons peers are such an effective member of the treatment team is because we are able to communicate on a level that clinicians cannot. Our ability to relate to our clients on a personal level allows us to gain trust in ways that formal providers simply are unable. And because we have so much in common with the individuals we serve, forming a relationship with qualities very similar to that of a friendship seems to take place quite naturally. However, this can be a slippery slope for a number of reasons. The main concerns become exploitation of or harm to the individual being served.
As we unpack this topic, let's first dive a little deeper from the term "boundary" to that of "dual relationship." While these terms are not the same, they are relational. As keeping healthy boundaries will aide in also avoiding a dual relationship.
A “dual relationship” exists when a professional has more than one type of relationship with an individual they serve.
So what can be done to ensure that the client ultimately stays safe, therefore focusing on receiving services as they were intended?
Company culture plays a huge part in what is deemed "acceptable" as well as "unacceptable" . And culture starts at the tippy top of an organization.
How does the CEO of your company carry him or herself? Are they professional, maintaining boundaries between staff and clients, as well as staff and other staff? Or is it common to see them sitting a little too close, dressing a little too provocative, or hanging out outside of work hours with individuals?
As innocent as any action may seem to those partaking, the view from the outside frequently paints a very different picture. Besides how something might appear, the fact remains that engaging in any sort of dual relationship is wrong and can very easily cause the person harm with whom you are entrusted with caring for.
What did you think of the Roundtable discussion above with 4 peer specialists from varying organizations across Phoenix?
What's your take? We'd love to hear from you!
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