Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Beverly A. Belson

Second Advisor

Dr. Edward Trembley

Third Advisor

Dr. Howard E. Farris


The purpose of this study was to address the following questions; What are the attitudes and practices of counselors in small college counseling centers regarding dual relationships? What are the counselor characteristics that appear to affect counselors' attitudes and practices? How do the attitudes and practices of counselors in small colleges compare to other professionals' attitudes and practices?

A nationwide, random sample of 300 small college counselors was surveyed. Half of the sample received a Counseling Practices Survey: Ethics, which sought information about the respondents' attitudes regarding 17 nonsexual and sexual dual relationship behaviors. The other half of the sample received a Counseling Practices Survey: Practice, in which they were asked to report the frequency with which they engaged in these 17 behaviors. Both Counseling Practices Survey forms were adapted from Borys' (1988) Therapeutic Practices Survey. With 217 respondents to the survey, the following conclusions were drawn:

1. A range of views was reported regarding the ethicality of the dual relationship behaviors addressed in the study, though the majority of dual relationship behaviors were likely to be viewed as unethical in most circumstances.

2. Respondents were unambiguous in their attitudes against sexual involvement with current or former clients, and no respondents reported any sexual involvement with a current or past client.

3. A significant correlation existed (r = .902, p < .001) between ratings of ethicality and actual reported practices related to dual relationships. Respondents were less likely to reportedly engage in a behavior than they were to view it as ethical.

Respondents' attitudes and practices were examined in relation to five variables (gender, theoretical orientation, educational background, number of available referral sources, and memberships in professional organizations) . Females were least likely to report engaging in most dual relationship behaviors but no statistically significant difference was found between male and female respondents' attitudes toward dual relationships. In addition, theoretical orientation had a statistically significant relationship to some reported dual relationship practices, and also to some attitudes toward dual relationships.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

Included in

Counseling Commons