'No Sex Please, We're British' says the movie/play title. Apparently that's due for an update, with a re-edit to ' No Sex Please, We're Therapists'.
Of course, it's no joke. There are very strict ethical guidelines with regard to therapist-patient relationships. Yet according to psychiatrist Professor Carolyn Quadrio from the University of NSW, one in every ten male therapists will have sex or develop an intimate link with a female client. Between one and three percent of female therapists will do the same.
Maybe I'm naive but these figures really surprised me. Anyone have any thoughts on this?
I understand that in the therapeutic process, particularly in the setting of good rapport and the discussion of often very intimate subjects, the potential for a blurring of boundaries can be great. When the therapist is the one person who has listened, seemed to understand or appeared to care for the patient, patients can come form a close bond with their therapist. This is a situation that requires very careful management.
Professor Quadrio's research is important in that it gives some indicators of the therapists most likely to be at risk of letting things get out of hand - those who were dealing with their own depression or experiencing difficult times and thus vulnerable to the adoring client, bad eggs who "prey" on clients and "ego maniacs". Professor Quadrio explains that this last group are the hardest to identify because these individuals are often highly talented and admired by colleagues and patients alike.
Professor Carolyn Quadrio will present her findings today at the World Psychiatric Association conference in Melbourne. It looks like a very interesting conference with many interesting speakers, including a personal favourite of mine, Professor Paul Salkovskis, who has undertaken extensive work on hypochondriasis/health anxiety (an area of particular interest) and obsessive-compulsive disorder. You may have seen his recent series "The OCD House" on the ABC.
Ah, if only I was in Melbourne...