Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Social workers-Training of, Social workers-Professional ethics, Psychotherapist and patient, Psychotherapy-Moral and ethical aspects, Sexual attraction, Supervision, Clients, Social workers-Supervision of, Social work, Training


This exploratory/descriptive study was undertaken to determine if master of social work students in a current field placement experienced sexual attraction to clients, and whether they felt adequately trained on the subject. The study also inquired about how the students handled their feelings of sexual attraction and whether they discussed them with their supervisor and/or fellow students. An email was sent out to the researcher's fellow social work students asking them to complete the qualitative and quantitative survey and to pass it along to others in master of social work programs. To be eligible, all survey respondents had to be currently enrolled in a master's of social work program as well as currently participating in a field placement or internship. Ninety subjects started the survey but only seventy-two qualified to participate and completed it. The findings of this study indicate that responding students in master of social work programs reported that they did not receive adequate trainings on the subject of sexual attraction to clients. Half of the subjects stated that they had experienced sexual attraction to at least one client, noting that this is a common occurrence among students in their field placements. However, only three subjects noted discussing the feelings of sexual attraction to a client with their supervisors, and few indicated that supervisors raised this topic or seemed able to help them as interns discuss it. Given that sexual contacts comprise a large fraction of the complaints to ethics boards in clinical professions, interns' lack of training seems a significant omission.




v, 47 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2011. Includes bibliographical references (p. 34-35)