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mwickize

Rejection based on possible dual relationship, not application itself

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I applied to a program in which my current therapist is a faculty member. This person is not in charge of my grades, but supervises a practicum site. In my feedback, I was told that I had a great application, but was rejected due to some faculty that found this dual relationship unethical. While I completely understand that this could be cause for concern- I am also pretty frustrated that the decision was not based on merit. The faculty member went to the board of ethics when I mentioned I was applying- who said as long as that person did not feel it would be an issue, it would be fine. My therapist made it clear that if I were accepted, the therapeutic relationship would end and that we would have no issues. This is the only school in my state accredited for what I want to accomplish. Is this a situation where an appeal could be acceptable? Or do I really just have to accept that when I happened to choose a therapist, I picked one of two in my town that would make it impossible for me to attend this program. 

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Not sure what you're studying, but honestly the code of ethics for ACA and APA both state that you can't have friendly relations with a client even after the therapeutic relationship is over. One could say that being a member of your program's faculty counts as a relationship that extends the bounds of ethical practice. I can understand their stance and your frustration as well. You mentioned that she supervises a practicum site - would you for sure be attending this practicum site? If you will literally have zero exposure to this therapist during the course of your study (e.g. she's not teaching your classes and you're not going to her practicum) then I don't see why you can't appeal.

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I think their position is totally reasonable. It would be very strange supervising someone who you previously provided therapy to. It would be difficult maintaining a professional relationship with that person, whether or not it's technically against the code of ethics. Mayne you were unaware that this therapist worked at the school you were applying to or you had chosen this field after having her services, but if it were possible perhaps you should have taken that into consideration before selecting her as your therapist. Lastly you say this is the only certified program that teaches what you want to study. You didn't mention the focus of study, but I doubt that a certified program is the only program of certification of that kind in the country.

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It may not be an issue for you and your therapist, but the other people in your work environment (in this case, the department faculty and staff) have a say in this. Although codes of ethics don't have hard and fast rules for EVERYTHING, you and your therapist's interpretation aren't the only ones that matter in this situation. This could be uncomfortable for others around you, too, even though they aren't directly involved (same goes for legal guidelines for harassment--something may not feel like harassment for the people involved, but can still be classified as such if others feel uncomfortable or unsafe).

Edited by artsy16

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I appreciate your responses. I do understand the cause for concern, and maybe I did not make that clear in my first statement. I don't mean to make it sound as though I am being unfairly punished or anything, just expressing my frustration at the situation and asking for honest opinions on whether or not this could be appealed. I chose my therapist based on her specialization because of a traumatic experience I went through- and my therapist is one of a few in my area that I felt would truly be able to support me in that.  This program is the only one in my state that is accredited for Marriage and Family Therapy. My other options for this include an online program or moving out of state, which is just not an option for me at this time. Again, I appreciate the responses. It does look as though my only option is to accept that unknowingly, a decision I made affected my chances at being accepted into the program. Bummer. 

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I can understand why they would be concerned. It is a very very frustrating situation for you though, especially if you didn't know he worked there!

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