51 thoughts on “Sex With Your Therapist

  • April 9, 2010 at 10:03 am

    Oh my goodness I am obsessed with In Treatment! LOL. The 2nd season is better…but actually as I type this In Treatment(Season 1) is playing in the background. Anyway I think sex is NEVER ok even after the therapy has ended. Your therapist is right the culpability ALWAYS falls on the therapist because of the power dynamic. A patient/client might THINK they really want to have sex with their therapist…but the meaning behind that may be something deeper(erotic transference) that needs to be explored. Having sex with a patient would completely ruin the relationship and the patient(more so than not) will probably be shocked if a therapist reciprocated the sexual feelings.

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  • April 9, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    I have a different opinion, I am a male who was seeing a female psychologist, for OCD.She was and in my opinion still is very professional.After 2 months of thearpy she and I had sex, she felt guilty about it and I ressured her I was a consenting adult,and in no way had she manipulated me.I pointed out the fact that my IQ test revealed above average intellegience and other tests revealed no delusional problems,or brain defects.We still communicate by email and are great friends,as I told her “You are a human being first and a thearpist second the notion that a thearpist does not have emotions or conflicts as we all do is silly”I also pointed out to her that since I had been open with her more so than any previous relationships we started out with no skeletons in the closet.As long as its two consenting adults with no brain defects there should be no problem.It was more than sex it was caring as I’ve said before we still keep in touch and probably always will.If its a crime it only because society has said it is illegal yes immoral no.

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  • April 9, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    It’s not about therapist being free of emotion. It’s about them being able to deal appropriately with issues of transference and counter transference without abusing the privileged relationship with the client.

    This is illegal because it’s genuinely abusive. Consent should be free from such power imbalances to be valid.

    It’s an abuse of a position of trust.

    Cheers,

    Stuart

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  • April 10, 2010 at 1:02 am

    Sorry to break it to you Justin…but your therapist does not even know the meaning of the word professional. Not only is she unprofessional, she is reckless, has poor boundaries/impulse control and should be out of a job. IQ and intelligence has absolutely nothing to do with sexual relations between clients and therapists. I can absolutely understand the temptation that might linger in the room…but a competent therapist MUST NEVER act or initiate any kind of sexual interaction..even something like the exchanging of hugs can get people into trouble. Sorry if this was a bit harsh..but even having the slightest inkling that sex in a therapists office is okay is just plain ignorant,unjustified and wrong(unless it’s a home office and between the therapist and their spouse after client hours…abet a bit gross LOL still nothing illegal going on there).

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  • April 10, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    To follow up on your comment Erin, I can see your point of view and the point you are trying to make.The sexual relations between she and I occured outside of the office.The deeper problem I think is the assumption that thearpist are “God like” and they are robots,let me ask you some questions.Cannot any induviual be a patient whether it is metal health or physical?If I went to a general doctor for a broken arm, and while there asked her on a date and she accepted would this be unethical if we went out?If so why?We as society fight to have mental health issues treated the same as a physical health issue, and yet if a relation begins with a mental health provider it is labeled “wrong,unethical,immoral,etc.”simply because the mind is being treated instead of the body, by saying what she did was wrong would be shifting my freewill,and responsibilty for my own actions as an adult on to her.I told her if she was a house cleaner instead of a doctor it would be irrealavant to me.The point is no job title or profession or diplomas can stop chemistry between two consenting adults,nor should it.

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  • April 10, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    What is so bad about a therapist and potential patient meeting briefly before entering a mutual relationship?

    I am against sexual relations between therapist and patient, but I don’t see anything wrong with a potential patient and therapist meeting twice, for example, discovering they have a mutual attraction so they decide against therapy and date, while the patient is referred to someone else.

    There would be a problem drawing a line – 1, 2, 3, 4 sessions? But what is wrong with the above scenerio? Is a therapist who met with a person twice deemed just as “guilty” af the therapist who violated a long-term patient/therapist relationship? If so, I don’t think they should be.

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  • April 10, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    Justin sexual relations in the office was not to be taken literally. If you had sex with your therapist outside of the office it doesn’t really matter. It still doesn’t make it right. It still doesn’t change the dynamic. The dynamics that exist between a medical doctor(unless its a psychiatrist) and a patient are not the same dynamics that exist between a client and therapist..not even remotely the same. What happens in a therapy session can be very intimate and a client can find themselves in a very vulnerable situation, in which case the therapist can take advantage(if the therapist is inept). I should hope a therapist wouldn’t take advantage of their clients, but obviously it does happen..case it point Justin. Yes therapists are human and not even remotely god-like they are allowed to have relationships but not with their clients…it is a conflict of interest. Just like teachers can not date students, and bosses shouldn’t sleep with their employees. Sorry Justin but the board of ethics doesn’t agree and if your therapist was caught sleeping with her clients I am willing to bet she would get in a heap of trouble. Not to mention the feelings of her other patients. If I found out that my therapist was sleeping with some of his patients but not me…I would do a number on my self-esteem..having me think “oh he could sleep with them but not me..what is wrong with me?”

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  • April 11, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    Erin my dear lets analyze what you said in your latest comment.You say that a medical doctor and therapist aren’t the same due to the vulnerability factor involving intimacy.What about a gynecologist?in other words are we only assuming that intimacy is on an emotional level where do we draw the line or define what is intimate.In any relationship whether its online dating,or meeting at a bar there is a level of vulnerability in all relationships,you state that a therapist can take advantage if they are inept well once again you are assuming the therapist is a master manipulator with better brainwashing tactics then the next person because they have a degree.In my case and I would say in most cases it is the patient that is pursuing the doctor not vice versa,I made the first move on her and it led from there.If she slept with other patients in no way would it offend me to believe that I am the only man she would find attractive would be egotistical and childish.You also have to realize Erin that physical appearance plays a role if she was 80 years old she would not have been able to “manipulate”me and if I was 80 she would have remained “professional”.The board of ethics would not agree with me but they are just induviuals with a title and an opinion,I only agree with the majority if I agree with their opinion and in this case I don’t so I will be in the happy minority.You know why most patients develop feelings for their therapist?simply because they are good listeners its the same reason bartenders get hit on.A therapist and a bartender seem really interested in what you have to say and give advice ones got a diploma the other serves booze.Half the therapist when they’re with patients are “listening” when actually they’re probably wondering what to prepare for dinner,who’s going to be the next american idol etc.My therapist told me one of the reasons she was attracted to me was I saw her as a human being not some paid,mechanical listener.Anyhow it’s nothing personal Erin we just have opposing views, I’m sure you are probably a nice woman.

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  • April 12, 2010 at 9:49 am

    I am not even going to sit here and argue with you Justin. It’s like talking to a brick wall…and the fact that YOU made the first move is even worse on her part. She should not have reciprocated..instead she should have discussed what that meant and used that as a part of your therapy process. Erotic Transference happens ALL THE TIME in therapy. Most therapists DO NOT act on these feelings and they shouldn’t…it’s unprofessional..and CAN cause more damage than harm. There are no arguments here..your therapist was wrong and should be out of a job..I don’t say that..the ethics board does.

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  • April 12, 2010 at 9:51 am

    Oh and PS Justin…addressing me in “my dear” is condescending…

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  • April 12, 2010 at 11:10 am

    sorry justin, I am with erin on this one. I cannot think of any conceivable way in which sexual relations between a therapist and patient is ok. That goes the same way in terms of friendships. I think sonia even made a blog post a while back about how its not okay at all to even have a friendship with your therapist even after the therapy has ended. and comparing medical doctors to therapists is like comparing apples and oranges. just like comparing dermatologists and anesthesiologists is like comparing apples and oranges…also chances are you don’t see your medical doctor once a week and divulge your most intimate secrets and problems to them do you? it’s a one way street, you don’t know anything about the therapist…I agree any therapist that willingly has sex with their patient is inept and should get on the unemployment line.

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  • April 12, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    Are we still using the ethics board Erin?At one time women weren’t allowed to vote that was actually a law,at one time schools were segregated,are you going to follow every law or rule no matter how foolish it is.And as far as “my dear” being condescending it sounds to me like you have paranoia issues, and this constant bickering about sex between two consenting adults is ridiculous.Your comments reveal you do have self esteem issues,and your using peoples jobs as an excuse to limit sex is interesting kinda of like people that can’t go out and party so they don’t want anyone else too.Maybe there is control issues and feelings of being neglected on your part as well.Anyhow you can hate me,maybe call me some names,call the therapist names,its ok I’ve got tough skin.If the therapist and I went out together and prayed in church for 2 hours that might be ok huh?As long as “evil” sex doesn’t reveal its ugly head.What can I say some people’s line of thought amazes me.

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  • April 12, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    Well George as I’ve said before to Erin we all have the right to opposing views.I actually know as much about my therapist as I have my past relationships,and what sonia or anyone else says is just like what I say, an opinion.Everyone implys its wrong but other than qouting ethics boards or implying im a vulnerable 30 year old,who doesn’t know up from down,or using words such as transference no one has really or can specifically say why its wrong other than”thats what the ethics board says”or “my pastor” or “society”.I will continue to think for myself to put it in simple terms she’s a therapist I found physically attractive and intelligent, and I’m a sailor who she felt the same way about,so sex happened and we’d do it again so the opposing opinion of others is no real bother.I don’t expect the majority of people to see things my way if we didn’t have different views the world would be a boring place.

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  • April 13, 2010 at 12:29 am

    Wow Justin. I am very impressed with your therapy skills…where did you get your clinical psychology degree? I am paranoid and have self esteem issues? and you gather this from a few comments on a blog? Look how defensive you get…people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones…This will be my last comment on this post and I will not be returning to read anymore new comments so no need to respond…my fragile self esteem has really taken a turn for the worse and I really can’t get my feelings hurt any longer…translation…I really don’t feel like talking to brick wall anymore.

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  • April 13, 2010 at 11:52 am

    You don’t have to have a degree to know human nature Erin.That probably was your last comment,but I bet you come back to make sure you got the last word.As far as glass houses I know I’m a little crazy,never denied it.Heres one final thought you say I’m a brick wall yet I mention specifics as to why I believe in my point of view,I just don’t keep playing the “ethics board” or “its just wrong” song.You know what makes me a little crazy?Talking reason to the unreasonable.After all this I might need to see my therapist maybe a little transference will take place.

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  • April 14, 2010 at 12:28 am

    How do I know if my therapist “groomed” me for a sexual relationship vs. acted “human”? What if I healed from therapy. What if his methods worked??
    Shouldn’t I feel grateful for the good done in my life? Don’t all of us make mistakes…even therapists? Was I groomed, or was I loved?

    I felt loved…but now I am not sure.

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  • April 14, 2010 at 1:47 am

    http://www.survivingtherapistabuse.com/my-story/

    Hi Georgia,

    I cannot answer your question, but I do know it’s not what happens in our life, it’s how we feel about it, what perspective we take and whether or not it was damaging to us.

    I have read in a psychotherapy book by Nancy McWilliams that sometimes therapist/client sex does work out, but most times it doesn’t. Some therapists have married their clients and it has lasted. But the majority of the cases are predatory therapists with no scruples grooming vulnerable clients for a sexual relationship.

    Have a read of this website and it may help you.

    All the best, Sonia

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  • April 14, 2010 at 11:41 am

    Two points.

    a. Sonia writes above: “I have read in a psychotherapy book by Nancy McWilliams that sometimes therapist/client sex does work out, but most times it doesn’t…” I think this is the point that Justin is trying to make. He believes he’s in that minority where it does work out.

    b. Even if sometimes it does work out, that doesn’t mean that the vast majority of time it doesn’t, and that the harm done in the vast majority of time ranges from noteworthy to catastrophic. If that’s the case, then I think it should still be banned and sanctioned on a strict liability basis. Its a bad analogy, but sometimes drunk drivers get home safely. That doesn’t mean, though, that we shouldn’t have an objective blood alcohol level test above which you are per se in violation of the law, even if you’re one of those folks who can see the road clearly through a half-bottle of Jim Beam.

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  • April 14, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    In my case there was no intent on an “outside” relationship, only the need to fulfill a deep connection.

    My desire to connect with my therapist was so intense it was tearing me to pieces inside. My therapist seemed upset afterwards and didn’t want to talk about it. We maintained a therapist/client relationship from then on.

    My therapist did help me, but there was a cost. The no talking policy made me wonder what was the agenda. I feel embarrassed to write that, because I was helped. I was healed from many problems and difficulties…I wonder if I am “bad” for wanting him so intensely…is he “bad”? He doesn’t seem a complete villain.

    Was I a victim, or did kindness go to far?

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  • April 14, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    Sonia, thanks for leading me to the other website. There are some things in her story that twist me up a bit.

    In fact, I have the slightest little itch or wonder if they are one and the same therapist/person…of course he is still practicing so it cannot be true.

    NOT that my sexual relationship was anything near to what she experienced. I feel floaty right now.

    I don’t know what is true. I am really embarrassed about that. I want to hold my therapist up, because to hurt him is like hurting myself. I have worked a long time to overcome. Maybe my therapist is working to overcome as well.

    I don’t want to give up the compassion and love that I feel and have. I don’t want to look at the world with disgust. Things are not always so black and white.

    I am an adult…I was really alone and vulnerable. I was child-like, and my therapist did care for me, but what was his intent? Can anyone know, can I?

    I feel like I am the traitor for writing this. I feel I should be sentenced to death for having doubt. I should be jailed for having suspicion, for not having faith in a gift given to me.

    That is why I am on this website. I am crucifying myself for not having complete faith. I did something wrong. I messed up. I am to blame also. I do carry some of the responsibility.

    I don’t care to punish anyone. I just want to like myself.

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  • April 14, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    Hi Georgia,

    People are not heroes or villains, we are all flawed human beings who do what we have to in order to survive. That is what you did.

    That floaty feeling you mentioned does bother me a bit, it sounds like a bit of dissociation happening which is understandable.

    Do you have a current therapist or a support person or someone you can talk to preferably face to face or at least on the phone? This forum may not be enough for your situation.

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  • April 14, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    He is my therapist. I am ok.

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  • April 15, 2010 at 10:45 am

    I might also recommend our support forum for folks who are grappling with feelings toward their therapist — and the emotions such feelings invoke:

    http://forums.psychcentral.com/forumdisplay.php?f=108

    There’s no judgment in having these feelings toward your therapist — they are normal and natural and a part of many people’s therapy experiences. The key is how the therapist reacts toward them and treats you.

    I encourage you to seek out additional help for this issue, from a different professional.

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  • April 15, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    Thank you for your advice.

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  • April 18, 2010 at 12:18 am

    This reminds of a time back when I was in 10th grade. My father had died from lung cancer and he was such a wonderful, loving, caring and important person in my life…we had such an impenetrable bond and when he died my world literally fell apart. I didn’t seek out help from a therapist but a teacher in my high school that I was fond of(not romantically) but as in a sort of stand in father figure kind of way. Anyway he was very soothing during days that were rough(before my father died I was very well-adjusted and generally very happy…after he passed away I did a complete 180..I was angry, emotional and generally morose on most days, but generally I was prone to bouts of anger) and I almost saw this teacher as a kind of a life raft after the serious trauma of losing my beloved dad at such a young age(my mother was of great support..and not neglectful in anyway…she took was there for me as well..but sometimes a girl just needs her dad, especially since the relationship shared by me and my father was exceptional and genuine)…anyway its blatantly obvious of the power differential..I was still enveloped in grief and vulnerable, and he was a strong authority figure..the ball was obviously in his court…

    One day after school I was just hanging out in his classroom just chatting for a few minutes before I had to go home when he really TRIED to use his power to his advantage. He started massaging my shoulders and told me that if we slept together and made our relationship intimate that it would solve all my problems I was having in dealing with the loss of my father. Needless to say I didn’t walk out of the classroom…I ran…and I reported him…only he mysteriously quit two days after the incident…how convenient. Once he saw that I wasn’t going to participate he quit…I guess he knew that I was going to report him(I did) and he didn’t want to deal with being investigated and being fired..it would be difficult finding a job elsewhere after having been fired for coming onto a minor student.

    Needless to say I was seriously CRUSHED…as if my problems weren’t bad enough this incident sent me into a downward spiral and landed me into the hospital for a two week stay in the adolescent psych unit. I couldn’t stop crying and I seriously wanted to die…I made threats of suicide and a family member intervened before I reached the point of no return…I never went back to public school again..I was home schooled for the rest of 10th grade and then went back to a private school for the rest of my high school career. I was devastated because I really was attached to teacher, and was extremely fond of him(I didn’t think of him sexually at all it wasn’t about romance). I needed comfort during a very tumultuous time and I thought I had gotten that from him…boy the rug was ripped from under me quickly..after that I was mourning two losses..the loss of my father and the loss of someone who I thought cared for me.

    Anyway the point of sharing this story is because it is similar to sexual tendencies/desires/actions between therapists and clients. A man in a position of authority tried to take advantage of someone vulnerable and weak(and much younger…he was in his mid-forties…I was only fifteen at the time). He saw me as prey and pounced on me like a cat does a mouse. I probably should have sought out therapy in the first place after my dad died but hindsight is always 20/20…but I am happy to say that I am now 27 and doing just fine..I am married to a great and wonderful man and we have a baby girl…but not a day goes by that I don’t think about that terrible and awful place I was in after that teacher tried to pursue me romantically…it took me a LONG LONG time to recover…I had two more hospitalizations after the first one and lots of therapy and medications to recover.

    I only skimmed through some of the comments..but I am seriously against having sex with your therapist(or any authority figure) now matter what the reason…even if it is consensual..initiated by the client or whatever. Even if the consequences of it are harmless and leave no damage afterward, these rules are put in place for a reason. I understand that not everyone who engages in sex with their therapist is going to end up in the hospital, extremely emotionally distraught…but keep in mind I was VERY young and already suffering from trauma, but still it doesn’t matter, under no circumstance should a therapist and client engage in any sexual activity…NO MATTER WHAT.

    Sorry my reply was a bit long..but maybe if my story can help just one person, then sharing it is worth it.

    Carlie

    PS: Sonia…I love your blog…you are a great writer!

    Reply
 

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