Beginning with the Hippocratic Oath, all the helping professions have prohibited sexual relationships with current clients and patients.
For many years, Melvin provided clinical services to children and families, specializing in child behavior management problems, couples counseling, and family therapy.
5 Melvin was a clinical social worker in independent practice.
The overwhelming majority of social workers maintain clear and professional boundaries with clients.
Like all professionals, however, social workers need to be vigilant in their efforts to avoid inappropriate dual relationships.
This may lead to dating and social worker-client sex.
The pattern is not always this linear, of course, but these elements are not uncommon.
Sexual misconduct between a social worker and a client is often the end result of a series of boundary-related indiscretions in that relationship.
Many of these situations start with a gradual erosion of the social worker’s neutrality in relation to the client; the social worker may take a special interest in the client that gradually leads to discussion of personal issues not part of the therapeutic relationship.
It is natural for professional helpers and clients to occasionally find themselves attracted to each other, especially considering the intimate nature of the clinical work they do together.
One hallmark of ethical practice is the social worker’s ability to identify and properly manage these feelings.
The social worker may begin sharing confidential information about other clients, partly because the “special” client has gained favored status.