All therapeutic relationships involve a power differential.
The practitioner is the authority figure and has the power to directly affect the client's well-being.
The American Psychological Association (APA), however, has an interesting take on this.
It views this relationship as a “guilty until proven innocent” one.
For Psychologists in the United States, personal relationships (whether they be sexual or platonic) after professional ones are frowned upon.
The reason for this and all ethical codes is client protection.
Relational/cultural theory frames this as striving for a “power with” instead of a “power over” relationship.
DK: So the reason that the 2005 ACA Code of Ethics continues to give no leeway and to ban all sexual or romantic interactions with clients is because we know that harm always occurs when that happens? Even if it appears on the surface that a client is open to a sexual/romantic relationship, there are always things that happen, and the client could later turn around and say that he or she wasn’t able to make a decision that was in their best interest at the time and therefore felt coerced.
Kirk Fjellman's former wife turned in the couple (who had married in September 2003) to the state which then ordered the now-named La Rae Lundeen Fjellman to not have sex with any former client and to pay a civil penalty, according to an Associated Press article [2016: URL no longer exists].
The state of Minnesota rescinded its order against her in February 2007, but not before Lundeen Fjellman had spent more than ,000 in legal fees, another AP article [2016: URL no longer exists] stated.
Many therapists haven't given much thought to the issue of sequential relationships and may be unaware, as this therapist was, of the potential risks.
In the sections that follow we look at various aspects of dating former clients—including the types of risks involved, factors that increase or decrease those risks, relevant government regulations and codes of ethics, as well as practical guidelines for therapists who find themselves attracted to clients or discover that clients are attracted to them.
Justice Jeannette Knoll concurred to emphasize that a lawyer's ethical duties to the client don't stop just because representation is over: "Inherent in the duty of loyalty is the corresponding duty to protect the client's best interests.