Warning – contains spoilers for Season One of In Treatment.

I have just finished watching Season One of In Treatment, and I have some very mixed feelings about some of the so-called therapy that Paul dishes out to Laura. Therapy sex is an absolute no-no, and the fact that Paul can’t get it up and has an anxiety attack trying to do so doesn’t make it any less unethical, immoral and completely illegal. The therapist who sexualizes his clients, no matter what the provocation (and Laura is a very seductive erotically-transferred client) is committing a crime.

M. Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled, said that if he thought it would benefit his clients, he would sleep with them. But the cure is not through sex, it’s through relationship. The power differential between therapist and client is always there — even after therapy has essentially finished; and no amount of time will ever resolve the fact that one person has major power over the other.

I know sexual feelings, on the part of the client, is not unusual. I am a female heterosexual, who has never had a lesbian affair, having therapy with a female heterosexual therapist, yet sexual feelings (only on my part) arose in my therapy about six years ago. It freaked me out considerably. I was able, after a few years, to raise the subject in the context of “fluid sexuality” that most human beings — even my therapist — experience on a continuum, with heterosexuality on one pole and homosexuality at the opposite end. It is normal for most people to have feelings for the same sex on a sliding scale.

Therapy is such a deep and close intimate connection that these body feelings can surface and surge and sexual fantasies occur.  It’s (I feel) more to do with wanting to merge and bond in a visceral, concrete manner rather than the sex act itself, but our body experiences it as sexual. When I am with my therapist, I don’t think about sex with her, and I think for me that has always been the telling point. If I constantly thought those feelings in session, it would be an issue.

It would become much more of a problem if the therapist reciprocates those feelings. Certain clients tend to regress heavily in therapy, sometimes to the age of a pre-teen or younger. For a therapist to take advantage of this, it would be akin to incest, or paedophilia. One could argue that these sexual feelings are in the here-and-now of the relationship but anecdotal evidence in Deborah A Lott’s book In Session: The Bond Between Women and Their Therapists would suggest otherwise.

My very wise and astute therapist once sent me a radio transcript of a hidden conversation between a psychiatrist and a client where the psychiatrist is begging and pleading in a regressed, whiny, imploring manner for the client to have sex with him — again. I said to her that the client should have taken some responsibility and her reply was that the therapist was always to blame.

Perhaps Dr. Paul Weston should have listened to that tape before he drove to Laura’s house that day.

 


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    Last reviewed: 8 Apr 2010

APA Reference
Neale, S. (2010). Sex With Your Therapist. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 2, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/unplugged/2010/04/sex-with-your-therapist/

 

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