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You may ask yourself...How does a normal, healthy therapeutic relationship shift into a power imbalance that results in sexual abuse?
In the literature, like other survivors, therapy survivors like Mary frequently experienced a similar kind of manipulation for sex. The abusive professional would gradually reframe or reinterpret his client's childlike dependency on a parental figure. In the course of this reinterpretation, the parent or parental figure would become a romantic or sexual partner.
In her book "Betrayal," Julie Roy describes her therapist teasing her about having a "bathtub party" and making frequent inquiries about her sexual fantasies about him. Later, he suggests that they have sex, claiming that this will remove her fear of men and cure her of being a lesbian. Initially she refuses, telling her therapist, "I feel I would be destroyed. In the end it would be bad for me."
The therapist insists that she needs to love him, so that she can learn to love men. Over the course of the next few months, he progresses from touching her, kissing her and caressing her. Over the three years that she saw her abusive therapist, when he returned from conference trips, he would bring her coins, records, trinkets, and other gifts. He also invited her to go to a conference with him.
♦ 7 Key Exploitative Behaviors
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Goren, E. R. (2017). A call for more talk and less abuse in the consulting room: One psychoanalyst–sex therapist’s perspective. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 34(2), 215–220.
Keem, S., Shalley, C. E., Kim, E., & Jeong, I. (2018). Are creative individuals bad apples? A dual pathway model of unethical behavior. Journal of Applied Psychology, 103(4), 416–431.
Kouchaki, M., & Wareham, J. (2015). Excluded and behaving unethically: Social exclusion, physiological responses, and unethical behavior. Journal of Applied Psychology, 100(2), 547–556.
Pizer, B. (2017). “Why can’t we be lovers?” When the price of love is loss of love: Boundary violations in a clinical context. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 34(2), 163–168.
Summers, F. (2017). Sexual relationships between patient and therapist: Boundary violation or collapse of the therapeutic space? Psychoanalytic Psychology, 34(2), 175–181.
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