Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Psychotherapist and patient, Psychotherapy-Moral and ethical aspects, Self-disclosure, Therapeutic alliance, Accidental encounter, Extratherapeutic encounter, Chance encounter, Boundary violations, Accidental


This study was designed to determine how clinical outpatient social workers deal with accidental encounters with their clients outside of the therapeutic setting. The study also addressed whether or not clinicians felt that extratherapeutic encounters affect the therapeutic alliance. Twelve clinical outpatient social workers were interviewed in a qualitative study. This research was an attempt to examine how clinical outpatient social workers handle extratherapeutic encounters and their experiences when dealing with such an encounter. The study is also focused on how clinical social workers prepare clients, if at all, for the fact that they very well may run into clients outside of the therapeutic setting. The findings from the interview conducted concluded that it is inevitable that clinical social workers will face extratherapeutic encounters during their career. Other findings that are examined in this study include; preparing clients for encounters, the effects encounters can have on the therapeutic alliance, and training and supervision in the field regarding extratherapeutic encounters.




iii, 69 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass, 2009. Includes bibliographical references (p. 62-64)