Is there ever a good time to have sex with your therapist?

According to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal in Australia who noted that ”in some circumstances, it may be appropriate for a psychologist to have a personal and sexual relationship with an ex-client,” but that it should not start until at least two years after therapy ends.

However, in the case of one particular transgressing psychologist, it wasn’t two years and the client wasn’t a fully consenting adult, he was a brain-damaged sex killer on parole.  Apparently this makes no difference. According to the tribunal, the ruling for losing her licence would be unnecessarily crushing for this poor misunderstood psychologist and that it was “one off” and “not predatory.” Therefore keeping her licence would appear to be in the best interests of the Victorian public and thus the mentally ill will still be able to receive her special brand of therapy.

So what was she thinking?  She confessed she was looking for love and had developed a rescue fantasy that her feelings ”would have the most therapeutic value for him and that they would be the best therapy.”  I used to work with a man, a loathsome repugnant slug with a narcissistic personality disorder who told me on a regular basis that he could cure women (especially me) of their problems and issues with his “magic wand,” but seeing as it was the eighties, very little could be done about his slimy, repulsive and ugly behaviour.

Let’s take a look at the brain-damaged client.  I am not aware of the circumstances of his imprisonment but he has legally served his time and is free.  Along comes Dr. Love, who drives to his house, declares she has feelings for him and leaves him when he becomes violent.  He is jailed again and upon release she has sex with him again because “she was scared what might happen if she did not.”   As far as I am aware, calling the police when you are threatened with violence is a much more intelligent response.  However that would mean explaining her “relationship” in the context of the situation to the authorities.

Glenn O. Gabbard and Nancy McWilliams have both stated the importance of the practicing therapist to be in a healthy relationship where emotional and physical needs are met in a satisfactory manner.   The session room is not a pick-up joint and clients are not part of a stable of potential lovers.  No matter how demanding, how much you think you can “cure” your client through sex, rescue fantasies do not work.  No matter how desperate you are to see your client get well again, sex simply screws up the client’s brain.  Not only does the client have the initial presenting problem to deal with, but they now also have the “added bonus” of therapeutic rape.

I can only hope that during her own therapy and subsequent supervision, she learns and understands what the tragic consequences of her errant, retraumatising behaviour is, otherwise she will once again think she can have her cake and eat it.