Defining the boundaries of internet dating

From graduate courses and texts on ethics, to continuing education workshops on "Risk Management", to attorneys' advice columns, we have been warned never to leave the office with a client, to be very careful about gifts, never to socialize with clients, to avoid bartering and to limit physical contact to a handshake or a pat on the back.We have also been cautioned that boundary crossings are likely to lead us down the slippery slope to exploitive sexual relationships.It will distinguish between harmful boundary violations, beneficial boundary crossings and unavoidable or helpful dual relationships.Most importantly, it will suggest ways to increase clinical effectiveness by appropriately incorporating beneficial boundary crossing interventions into our clinical practices.Making a home visit to a bedridden patient or accompanying an acrophobic client to an open space, like many other 'out-of-office' experiences are boundary crossings that do necessarily constitute dual relationships (Zur, 2001).Similarly, exchanging gifts, self-disclosure, bartering of goods (not services) or extending the therapeutic hour when needed are also boundary crossings but not dual relationships.Dual relationships refer to situations where two or more connections exist between a therapist and a client.

A boundary violation occurs when a therapist crosses the line of decency and integrity and misuses his/her power to exploit a client for the therapist's own benefit.

Of course, sexual dual relationships are always unethical, counter-clinical and illegal in most states.