Ethics of Dual and Multiple Relationships in Total Institutions
By Ofer Zur, Ph.D.
This page provides background and resources regarding the ethics of the often complex therapeutic boundaries and multiple relationships in total institutions, such as group homes, residential treatment centers, wilderness therapy programs, psychiatric hospitals, cor¬rectional facilities, inpatient rehabilitation programs, and military bases.
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Total institutions is a term that was coined in the 1950s by the renowned sociologist Erving Goffman, Ph.D. Total institutions are defined as an enclosed and isolated social system, which controls most aspects of its participants’ lives, most often 24/7. Examples of total institutions are group homes, residential treatment centers, wilderness therapy programs, psychiatric hospitals, cor-rectional facilities, inpatient rehabilitation programs, and military bases. Undoubtedly total institutions involve many types and forms of multiple relationships. Spending often intense 24 hours a day with a client in a wilderness program, residential treatment centers or military bases either inherently involved or can easily lead to, primarily, social multiple relationships. Multiple relationships in the military, inpatient rehabilitation programs, and correctional facilities have been discussed separately.
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