Ethics and Relational Dialectics in Mentoring Relationships

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Abstract

Training relationships that evolve along the mentoring relationship continuum (MRC) become dynamic, reciprocal, emotionally connected relationships that benefit mentees, mentors, and the profession of psychology. This article examines prominent ethical tensions and obligations in mentoring relationships within professional psychology. The authors frame these ethical issues in terms of relational dialectics theory (RDT), a theory of communication that addresses the tension and struggle between equally desirable relationship goals. We consider each of the 3 salient dialectics proposed by the theory: integration–separation, stability–change, and expression–privacy and offer a training vignette to illustrate each. We highlight the mentorship-relevant ethical quandaries and tensions nested within each relational dialectic and conclude with a discussion of the implications for psychologists in training roles.

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