Effects of the dimensions of nonsexual multiple role relationships on the former clients' perception of the counselor and the counseling situation

Diyankova, Irina
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The described research project focused on the exploration of the former clients' reactions to the counseling situation, counselor, and attitude towards nonsexual multiple role relationships (NMRR). It was an analogue study, in which descriptions of the counseling situations involving different degrees and types of multiple role relationships were used. We proposed that presence or absence of multiple role relationships was not the only factor contributing to former clients' reactions to the counseling and counselor and their attitudes towards NMRR in the situations associated with NMRR. Our primary hypothesis was that clients' subjective perceptions and reactions to the situations involving multiple role relationships should be considered and evaluated as one of the possible factors. Two studies were conducted. A pilot study tested two instruments, case vignettes and the Reaction Questionnaire, developed to, respectively, introduce treatments and measure participants' reactions. The primary study involved 73 participants, all former counseling clients. Experimental between groups 2 (multiple roles present/absent) x 2 (clients' reactions positive/negative) factorial design was implemented. Participants were randomly assigned to one of the four experimental conditions reflected in the case vignettes. Results showed that presence or absence of NMRR was not the critical factor in the former clients' reactions to the counseling situation or their perception of the counselor. Former clients' reactions to the situation and perception of the counselor changed depending on whether absence or presence of multiple role relationships had positive or negative impact on the client (in the vignette) in the form of the client's emotional reactions. This study has important implications for the clinical practice. It suggests that mental health professionals do not have to avoid multiple role relationships with their clients by any means; rather, they should be sensitive to their clients' unique perceptions of these relationships and involve clients in the decision-making process.