Welcome to the Nexus of Ethics, Psychology, Morality, Philosophy and Health Care

Welcome to the nexus of ethics, psychology, morality, technology, health care, and philosophy

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Vignette 12: A Request for Assistance

Dr. Lilith Crane, a psychologist from a small rural campus, calls you on the phone for a consultation.
Dr. Crane currently works with an undergraduate student, Dan, on issues related to self-esteem and depression.  An ongoing theme in therapy revolves around his sexual orientation.  Dan recently came out to his parents, who were accepting of his gay orientation and lifestyle.  From that positive experience, Dan wants to start a support organization for other GLBTQ students on campus. 
Dan explained to Dr. Crane that this group would be student-led and meet on campus.  He does not view it as a therapy group.  Dan’s vision is that the group would meet periodically to provide one another with support, to do problem solving, to share information and personal struggles, and perhaps to provide some psycho-educational work on campus.  Dan indicates that they may also want to engage in fundraising in order for GLBTQ students to attend state or national events.
Dan asked a number of faculty members to be the faculty advisor of this group.  While most were supportive, all declined the invitation (likely because the campus is small and in a conservative area of the state).
Out of options, Dan asked Dr. Crane to be the faculty advisor.  Dr. Crane applauded and appreciated the student’s energy and creativity, but indicated some concern about dual role with the student.  She told the student that she would think about the request prior to answering.
Dr. Crane is questioning the pros and cons of being the psychologist and the faculty advisor.  Dr. Crane feels ambivalent because of their therapeutic relationship, but also wants to help Dan because he appears to have limited options.
What are the possible downsides to entering the dual relationship?
What are the possible steps Dr. Crane can take to mitigate any potential difficulties?
What are other steps that the psychologist may want to take in this situation?