Sexual Issues in Psychology Training & Practice

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Sexual Issues in Psychology Training & Practice

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Full-text Articles

Sexual Intimacy in Psychology Training: Results and Implications of a National Survey [American Psychologist]

This national study found that 17% of the women, compared with 3% of the men, reported sexual contact as psychology students with their psychology faculty; that 19% of the men, compared with 8% of the women, reported sexual contact as psychology educators with their psychology students; that 25% of recent female graduates reported engaging in sex as students with their psychology faculty; and that12% of the males, compared with 3% of the females, reported sexual contact as psychotherapists with their clients.

Sexual Attraction to Clients: The Human Therapist and the (Sometimes) Inhuman Training System [American Psychologist]

This national study found that 87% of the participants reported sexual attraction to at least one client; that 9.4% of men and 2.5% of women reported acting on such feelings (i.e., engaging in sex with a client); that a majority reported feeling guilty, anxious, or confused simply by feeling attracted; that about half reported receiving no guidance or training concerning this issue; and only 9% reported that their training or supervision was adequate.

Sex Between Therapists and Clients [Academic Press]

This 2001 chapter examines the history of this issue, reviews the research, discusses gender patterns, analyzes potential harm, and notes the profession's urgent, unfinished business in this area.

Prior Therapist-patient Sexual Involvement Among Patients Seen by Psychologists [Psychotherapy]

The findings from this national study suggested that harm occurred for about 90% of the patients who engaged in therapist-patient sex; harm occurred for about 80% when the sex began only after termination; 5% involved minor patients; 3% involved marriage to the therapist; 32% involved patients who had experienced child sex abuse; 10% involved patients with a history of rate; 11% required hospitalization of the patient; 14% involved patient suicide attempts; 1% involved completed suicides; and 12% involved formal complaints.

Therapist-Patient Sexual Intimacy Involving Children and Adolescents [American Psychologist]

In this study, the ages of the female patient ranged from 3 through 17, with an average of 14; the ages of the male patients ranged from 7 through 16, with an average of 13.

Therapist-patient Sex as Sex Abuse: Six Scientific, Professional, and Practical Dilemmas in Addressing Victimization and Rehabilitation [Professional Psychology]

This article uses historical quotes and data to examine 6 problems in adequately addressing issues of therapist-patient sex: (a) acknowledging the scope of the phenomenon, (b) affirming the notion and the mechanisms of accountability, (c) assessing the validity of allegations, (d) evaluating the nature and validity of research evidence, (e) overcoming perpetrator stereotypes and inclinations to collude with or to enable sex offenders, and (f) confronting the notion of victim responsibility.


Sexual Feelings In Psychotherapy:Explorations for Therapists and Therapists-in-Training by Kenneth S. Pope, Ph.D., ABPP, Janet Sonne, Ph.D. & Jean Holroyd, Ph.D. Publisher: American Psychological Association.

"Like a trusted confidant, this reassuring yet challenging book shows how research, theory, and the reader's own feelings can be used to guide clinical practice. It is that rarest of books with which the reader shares an intimate dialogue of personal discovery. Powerful, truthful, and adventurous, it will serve as an essential text to which seasoned therapists will return again and again and should be required reading in all training programs." -- Professor Jesse Geller, Yale University

Sexual Involvement With Therapists: Patient Assessment, Subsequent Therapy, Forensics by Kenneth S. Pope, Ph.D., ABPP. Publisher: American Psychological Association.

"A landmark contribution. The research, forms, and lists of cross-examination questions will be invaluable to subsequent therapists who appear in court. This unique resource is essential reading for expert witnesses and trial attorneys." -- Nancy Adel, Esq., Partner, Law Firm of Adel & Pollack

Sexual Intimacy Between Therapists and Patients by Kenneth S. Pope & Jacqueline Bouhoutsos

"A thoroughly unique, impressively comprehensive, and long-awaited contribution. A storehouse of information. Plaintiff and defense lawyers and expert witnesses would be well advised to be aware of its contents." --Jay Ziskin, Ph.D., LL.B. Past President, American Psychology-Law Society


National Survey of Social Workers' Sexual Attraction to their Clients: Results, Implications, and Comparison to Psychologists [Ethics & Behavior]

In this national study of social workers, most participants reported having experienced sexual attraction to a client, causing (for most) guilt, anxiety, or confusion; 3.6% of male participants and 0.5% of female participants reported sex with a client; training was related to likelihood of offending, though the effect was small and complex; an analysis of 8 national studies found significant effects for gender and year of study but not for profession.

Licensing Disciplinary Actions for Psychologists Who Have Been Sexually Involved with a Client [Professional Psychology]

This study of licensing disciplinary actions for psychologists who had been sexually involved with a client collected information about offender age, gender, and marital status; for each case, the number of clients involved and whether they were adults or minors are provided.

Therapists' Sexual Feelings and Behaviors: Research, Trends, and Quandaries. This chapter appears in Psychological Perspectives on Human Sexuality (pp. 603-658), edited by Lenore Szuchman and Frank Muscarella, published by John Wiley and Sons, 2000.

This chapter includes the following sections: introduction; Education About Sexual Feelings; A Topic Not Just for the Intellect (vignettes, exercises & discussion questions); What  Percentage of Therapists Engage in Sex with Their Patients?; Common Scenarios of Therapist-Patient Sexual Involvement; History of the Prohibition; Initial Research; Gender Patterns; When The Majority Masks the Minority; How Therapist-Patient Sex Affects Patients; Special Treatment for Offenders; Research and Rehabilitation; What To Do When You Don't Know What To Do; References.

Sexual Behavior Between Clinical Supervisors and Trainees: Implications for Professional Standards [Professional Psychology]

This article notes that at least 4 areas need attention: the prevalence and nature of such sexual contact, its effects on clinical training, ethical implications, and the potential legal liability of supervisors who engage in sexual intimacies with trainees.

Therapist-patient Sexual Involvement: A Review of the Research [Clinical Psychology Review]

This article reviews research findings about the occurrence and effects of therapist-patient sexual intimacies, looking at such variables as gender, discipline, theoretical orientation, age, patient risk factors, and consequences for patients.


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