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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.
Over 95 percent of all the respondents considered such relationships to be ethically inappropriate, coercive or exploitive, or potentially harmful to the working relationship.
In a study of 235 male faculty members from all departments of “a prestigious research-oriented university,” Fitzgerald et al.10 found that 26 percent reported sexual involvement with women students.
In a healthy mentoring relationship, the student is encouraged and expected to be candid in responding to the teacher’s ideas, methods, or words.
A unique aspect of the mentoring relationship among professional relationships is that the student is, at the same time, both student and colleague.
Feelings of admiration and respect may become intense and personal.
When those feelings do occur, what do we do with them?
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.