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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My class project about therapist sexual abuse

For my senior level psych class I am putting together a blog and a presentation about therapist abuse. Here is a link to my blog that is still under construction, and should be finished Dec. 1.

I will have many personal accounts of clients who experienced sexual abuse from their therapist (some local stories as well) and along with this the research data that will show the detrimental effects on a client that this causes.

I am in support of new movement that is wanting requirement of psychotherapists to remain in supervision through out their careers and for the requirement of a pamphlet (like California now requires) to be given to every client that enters into therapy that states therapy should not EVER include sex.

I believe to be successful in reducing the rates of therapist abuse, there needs to be patient education and awareness (kinda like "stranger danger" that is used with children.) Therapists have been having having sex with clients since the beginning of Freud therapy, even with training classes and research about how harmful this is, some therapists still continues to abuse. So trying to educate therapists is not enough to protect the client.

Studies have found that most abusing therapists are over the age of 40 who have been in practice for ten years or more. Many times they are the ones who are supervising beginning therapists and/or sitting on many professional boards within the community. A lot of times their record is clean. (with only 3% of victims of therapist sexual abuse reporting, this seems rather obvious) The first step a therapist takes on the "slippery slope" is with his self disclosure. Then what is described as "grooming behavior" proceeds in most cases.

While only 3% of patients taking action against an unethical therapist with the APA board, it sure must give those who are engaged in unethical behaviors a good peace of mind that they probably won't be caught. Then according to my research the therapist is often protected by his colleagues. Many are in disbelief that someone they know who has been charged with something of this nature and their first instinct is to blame the victim or not belief them. It comes to a shock to most therapists who find out one of the colleagues are doing this behavior. Many times they have been in the community for a long time with a good reputation. So even if the victim decides to trust another therapist (many don't go back to therapy) and try therapy again, the client may have trouble finding another therapist in the community to be objective since the abusing therapist is well known by all their colleagues.

Then you have the fiduciary relationship that should protect the client, but in cases of abuse, the power of position that the therapist has over the client also protects the therapist. Who is the APA or anyone else going to believe, the "crazy" patient or the PhD. therapist? Therapist have the cognitive training in order to make anything the client says or does look like they are unstable and/or lying about the therapist's actions. It is easy for them, they are privy to this information. They will use their position of power in order to save their butts in a lawsuit or a board complaint, at the expense of the client. This is why many victims do not go forward with a complaint.

I want to do more about this to prevent more clients from going through this abuse, I hope with my blog it will help educate them and promote changes that are needed within the "helping people" profession. While most therapists are ethical, the ones that are not, really cause a lot of personal harm, a lot of times with the client attempting suicide. An ethical therapist for years may start to have problems, and this is why supervision should be required through out their careers in order to keep themselves "in check."

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