Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling Psychology & Community Services


Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing psychologists, who provide services to the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing community, face unique dilemmas when dealing with overlapping relationships. Similar to psychologists from other small or rural communities, dual relationships are generally unavoidable. The ethical guidelines for psychologists do not provide for the exceptional struggles that many Deaf therapists face in this regard.

This study was conducted to explore the decision-making patterns that Deaf therapists have used in negotiating nonsexual, multiple relationships with clients. Ten taped interviews were conducted to collect preliminary data on the overlapping relationship dilemmas of participants who are Deaf, licensed therapists and have been providing therapy in the Deaf community for at least a year. Grounded theory qualitative research approach was used when analyzing the data to identify themes and categories in an effort to identify primary topic areas for future research, further our understanding of ethical decision-making theory, and propose a model for ethical decision-making.