Dating students after graduation
What can we do, as individuals, as professions, and as institutions to help ensure that appropriate student-teacher boundaries are maintained?This paper will explore these questions in light of recent concerns expressed about boundaries between professionals and clients,2-7 sexual harassment in the academic setting,8,9 and recent data suggesting a high frequency of sexual interaction between graduate students and teachers.10-12 In early Greek and Roman times, sexual relationships between youth and their mentors were often considered to be a normal extension of a close male bonding, both in the study of philosophy and in the training of warriors. Teacher-student relationships differ from those between therapist and patient because of the collegiality considered important for the student’s development. Such relationships include those between teacher and student, especially those involving research or clinical supervision.Studies have come from two rather separate bodies of literature.Some research has emerged from a growing concern about sexual exploitation of clients by professionals, primarily in the mental health professions,2,11,12 but also in such fields as medicine, law, and religion.3,6,7,15 More recently, extensions of the literature on sexual harassment in the academic setting have addressed the issue as well.10,16 Glaser and Thorpe11 received survey responses from 44 percent (464) of the female members of the Clinical Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association.
I would like to thank Kathleen Donofrio, Peter Fagan, Stuart Keill, Stephen Max, Catherine Nugent, Judith Plaut and Bernice Sigman for their critical review of the manuscript.
A good mentoring relationship can be what is sometimes called a “peak experience” for both mentor and student — a sharing of something unique that no one else may experience in quite the same way.
The student experiences an acceptance of ideas and contributions that may be unequalled in previous life experience.
The teacher maintains certain evaluative responsibilities and the student continues to be dependent on the mentor’s guidance and approval.
Sometimes, however, the very closeness of the relationship challenges that necessary distance.