Understanding the experience of dual and multiple relationships in rural and remote social work practice
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AbstractSocial workers in rural and remote communities have found the occurrence of nonsexual dual and multiple relationships to be a constant practice issue. Most existing ethical codes and standards of practice contain caveats prohibiting or advising against nonsexual dual relationships and, while a variety of analytical models have been created with the intent of providing some means to evaluate issues of dual relationships, the basic premise of these codes, standards, and models assumes that nonsexual dual relationships are harmful to both client and practitioner. A comprehensive literature review reveals that most research on dual relationships has come from the professions of psychology and psychiatry, with limited research into the experiences of social workers and nonsexual dual relationships. In addition, while it is often acknowledged that human service workers in rural and remote communities must experience these types of relationships more frequently than workers in an urban context, there is minimal research that directly addresses this experience. The focus of this study was to gain an understanding of the experience of nonsexual dual and multiple relationships for social workers in rural and remote communities. In the process of the study, it was decided that the research would approach the issue from the perspective of philosophical hermeneutics - a worldview that grants value to the contexts and understandings of place, history, experiences, voices, and text. Hermeneutics was a response to the empirical, rationalist thought of the Enlightenment and this study found that the same empirical "urban" valuation of meaning has resulted in the disqualification of what is truly understood to be rural and remote - including the experience of being connected to others and to community. As a consequence of employing a hermeneutic perspective, the consequent loss of subject/object separation allowed the experience of rural and remote, including that of dual and multiple relationships and exploitation, to be understood differently. A hermeneutic perspective suggests that dual and multiple relationships are a valuable and inseparable component of rural and remote social work practice.
Bibliography: p. 175-192