Dual or multiple relationships are when the councillor takes on two or more roles, either simultaneously or sequentially, with a client (Corey, 2009). These roles can be either sexual or non-sexual, where the councillor may require to assume more than one professional role, for example teacher and councillor, or combine professional and non-professional roles together.
The process of being a counsellor is relationship based, and so how councillors choose to conduct themselves in these relationships, determines whether it can have significant ethical implications (Barnett & Hynes, 2015). Some multiple relationships can be clearly exploitive and can do some serious harm to both the councillor and the client. For some, becoming emotionally or sexually involved with a current client can be seen as unethical, unprofessional and illegal (Corey, 2009).
On the other hand, some relationships are not always problematic and can be beneficial to clients, as long as they are implemented thoughtfully with integrity (Lazarus & Zur, 2002; Zur, 2007). Such beneficial interactions include attending formal ceremonies, purchasing a service or product provided by a client or hospital visits to a family member (ACA Code of Ethics, 2005).