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There is a dual relationship between a social worker and a patient in the field of sociology, also known as multiple connections. The patient may even be a relative or an acquaintance of the social worker, implying the relationship extends beyond the worker's. The presence of multiple relationships has shown many times to complicate the professional interactions between the two parties concerned, there could be concerns of confidentiality of shared information, which might later become a problem. With dual or multiple relationships there bound to be boundary issues which come up when the social worker develops more than one relationship with their client. The relationship may vary from business to personal which ends up creating the dual or rather multiple relationships. The creation of such relationships is not encouraged for professional reasons such that many may feel entitled because they know the social worker in a different light which will compromise the quality of work from the social worker to client.
Rural areas always challenge social workers as the areas are not friendly to the services they provide to the people. The insufficient equipment and the remoteness of such areas create issues when it comes to service provision (Frazee, 2015). Rural communities tend to have more emergency situations as the access to preventive and intervention services is not easily available for the social workers. The pay for social workers in rural areas is usually less than those in cities and with such comes a reduced quality in services. Workers find it hard to be motivated as the resource to support their works is minimal and most times not quickly available. With fewer social workers in the rural community, the probability of creating multiple relationships is higher. Meeting clients and their family at the supermarket or even a local food court in the rural areas is so likely to happen that there ends up being a relationship that goes beyond being a health care provider (Frazee, 2015). The fact that rural areas tend to be compact and people know each other well it becomes hard for social workers to treat patients with mental health conditions because of the stigma. Patients feel like the fact that their neighbors know about their issues they will judge them and make a mockery of their illness. The issue of stigma makes patients to not show up for appointments which create deterioration in the mental health status in the rural areas (Frazee, 2015).
Social workers must make sure that they protect their integrity and do everything possible to avoid dual relationships with their clients. The social workers must be well aware of the NASW code of ethics when it comes to ways of dealing with the ones they serve (Reamer, 2013). Many social workers come across victims that have gone through traumatic issues in their lives and as an effort to understand some end up befriending the client which is highly unprofessional. The effort should be towards being emphatic and not sympathetic as with sympathy comes a breach in the professional relationship that is required (Doel & Nelson, 2015). As a step to protect the integrity of the practice workers should under no circumstances give their personal social media accounts or communicate with the clients with informal texts and phone calls (Reamer,2013). Meetings between the worker and client should remain strictly professional and not in restaurants or even clubs. The dress code to sessions with patients should be decent and not provocative in any way whatsoever. The time spent with clients should only be the scheduled meeting time and nothing extra (Reamer,2013). Workers should under no circumstances start sharing their personal life experiences to the clients in hopes of making them feel better or understood.
It is the responsibility of the social worker to ensure that there is no dual relationship between them and the clients. The clients come for help, and in that state whatever you feed them with or entertain them with; they will take it as the right thing to do (Doel & Nelson, 2015). Patients seek guidance, and due to their vulnerability they can easily convinced by all the ideas the social worker feeds them, that is why it is the social works duty to set the tone of the professional relationship.
The Social Workers code of ethics 1.09 states that there should be no sexual relationship between worker and client. Such a code assists the parties to avoid the creation of dual relationships. Code 1.10 states that there should be no physical contact even caressing in hopes of consoling a client, which is relevant in avoiding dual relationships (NASW, 2017).
Tolerating ambiguity in issues such as dual relationships is important. Also when faced with such a challenge it is always good to refer to the code of ethics according to the NASW standards. Taking a look at the state laws on such an issue is important in resolving it and also consult the NASW directly for clarification on the diversity of the issue.
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Doel, M. & Nelson, P. (2015) .Rights, and wrong in social work. London: UK, Macmillan Education.
Frazee, K. B. (2015). Rural social workers face an own set of challenges. National Association of social workers, 60 (7).
Reamer, F.G. (2013) .Social work values, and ethics. New York: NY, Columbia University Press.
National association of social workers. (2017). The code of ethics of the national association of social workers. Retrieved April 3, 2017, from http://www.socialworkers.org/pubs/code/default.asp.
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