Multiple Role Relationships in the Training of Genetic Counseling Students. By Leah Betman
The supervisor-student relationship is a complex issue that has been explored in psychology and counseling training programs. Current literature suggests that there are serious consequences of multiple relationships in supervision. However, little research has been conducted on this issue in the genetic counseling field. This study explored the perspectives of genetic counseling training program directors about the potential for multiple role relationships between students and program directors, faculty members and clinical supervisors. Program directors of 30 genetic counseling training programs in the United States and Canada were extended an offer to participate in the online survey. Nineteen (67%) program directors responded to the survey. The online, anonymous survey presented questions regarding types of relationships engaged in, the conflicts presented by the relationships, potential strategies for resolving the conflicts, and potential interactions between relationships. Program directors, clinical supervisors, and non-clinical faculty were all reported to have at least one additional relationship to the primary relationship with students. Most respondents indicated that there were little perceived conflicts between program directors and non-clinical faculty regarding multiple relationships with students. More respondents indicated that there were conflicts regarding multiple relationships between clinical supervisors and students. The results showed that there was a higher potential for multiple relationship conflicts involving clinical supervisors and students, especially if there was a social relationship involved. The results indicated that program directors felt that the issue of multiple relationships in genetic counseling was an important one for discussion, but not all programs provide training regarding multiple relationships to students, non-clinical faculty, and clinical supervisors. The results of this study can provide information regarding development of educational materials for genetic counseling training programs regarding the issue of multiple relationships between students, program directors, clinical supervisors, and non-clinical faculty.