Victims of abuse often suffer the most severe trauma when they are abused by those they know and those they should be able to trust. Whether their abuser is a parent, a teacher, doctor or therapist, the sexual abuse is compounded by manipulation and betrayal.
Sadly, it appears as though a Pennsylvania therapist abused his power and took emotional, mental and sexual advantage of at least two patients. He used “touching therapy” to break boundaries with two female patients who were already vulnerable due to histories of sexual trauma.
It is unclear if the 53-year-old therapist actually believed his methods were beneficial or whether he was just using them to manipulate his patients into sex. In either case, he should not be allowed to practice. Thankfully, his license was revoked in 2013 by the state Board of Psychology and is now facing criminal charges.
These reprehensible acts of sexual abuse took place over a period of several years, often in the therapist’s office while his wife worked as his secretary in the next room. He also billed approximately 700 of these “sessions” to insurance companies and received more than $70,000 in compensation.
Therapists are bound by a strict code of ethics, and for good reason. Therapists must create a safe space and maintain professional boundaries at all times. Any patient seeking therapy should be considered vulnerable, which means they cannot consent to sex or sexual activity, even if they are adults.
Therapists who “bend the rules” may have exercised poor judgment and should be disciplined appropriately. Therapists like this one, who violate professional ethics and human decency need to face criminal prosecution and perhaps a civil lawsuit filed by each patient they have harmed.
Source: New York Daily News, “Ex-Pennsylvania therapist who allegedly groomed patients for ‘touching therapy’ accused in fraud,” Nicole Hensley, Aug. 21, 2014