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Sexual Misconduct by Mental Health Professionals

Both the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association forbid sexual activity between therapists and patients, so one might think that popular culture’s depictions of such liaisons would be almost purely fictional; however, they are more common than one might imagine. Sexual misconduct by mental health professionals has accounted for a substantial portion of malpractice payouts from insurance companies, and for thousands of investigations by licensing and registration boards, leading to criminal charges in the most extreme cases. Controlled studies as well as therapist self-survey reports estimate that at some time during their careers 7% to 10% will have a sexual encounter with a patient. This entry examines the insidious progression from unheeding treatment to sexual misconduct and also describes how such pitfalls ...

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