Sudden discovery of a previous nonclinical relationship with a potential patient: implications for subsequent psychiatric treatment

Harv Rev Psychiatry. Mar-Apr 2013;21(2):102-5. doi: 10.1097/HRP.0b013e318288b064.


Suddenly encountering a patient who happens to be a person with whom a therapist has had a previous nonclinical relationship poses special problems for both the therapist and patient. The problems--including countertransference issues, dual relationships, and other concerns surrounding subsequent therapy--are discussed in this column through the use of examples. The authors conclude that the potential disadvantages of treating such patients outweigh any advantages that might come from previous relationships. The consequent recommendation is that such patients be referred to other clinicians.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physician-Patient Relations / ethics*
  • Psychiatry / ethics*
  • Referral and Consultation