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Waiting period for dating your therapist

"If something goes wrong in the eventual relationship, the professional may be liable civilly and criminally, and stand to lose a great deal.

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The practitioner is the authority figure and has the power to directly affect the client's well-being.This differential is amplified by the physical aspects of massage therapy.The client is in a much more vulnerable position—usually fully or partially unclothed and in a lying or seated position that gives the practitioner access to his or her body.Moreover, it's the therapist who's held liable for any legal or ethical violations that may occur."Although the literature, ethics codes, and licensure standards have focused on the danger to the former client, professionals need to be aware of their own liability and vulnerability," explains psychologist Gary Schoener, a respected expert in the field of ethics, boundaries, and sexual abuse issues.When La Rue Lundeen and Kirk Fjellman began dating, neither had a clue that Lundeen would be accused of breaking the law because of their relationship.But up until four months before the relationship began, Fjellman had been Lundeen's massage-therapy client—and in Minnesota, where both live and where Lundeen practices, a therapist must wait two years before engaging in an intimate relationship with a former client.As we mentioned earlier, the individual may be violating state laws or professional codes of ethics and could risk losing his/her license or expulsion from a certifying organization.Later in this article we'll examine these regulations in greater depth.The clients' thoughts, feelings, and behavior toward the therapist may be driven by their early experiences with little or no connection to present reality.For example, some people may feel compelled to continually seek the therapist's approval, just as they did with their parents.


  1. Jan 15, 2006. It is also important to recognize that counselors can decide to make the personal choice to never engage in romantic or sexual relationships with former clients even though the ACA Code of Ethics allows one to do so after a five-year waiting period. DK For the first time in its history, the ACA Code of Ethics.

  2. Jan 4, 2017. "Romance is not medicine," said a psychiatrist. "Both were widowed, and he transferred her care to a colleague before they started dating. One in five doctors now say a romantic relationship is permissible—but only after a waiting period of 6-12 months, once the doctor/patient relationship has been.

  3. The circumstances of termination; 4 the client's/ patient's personal history; 5 the client's/patient's current mental status; 6 the likelihood of adverse impact on the client/patient; and 7 any statements or actions made by the therapist during the course of therapy suggesting or inviting the possibility of a post-termination.

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