American Live Wire caught wind that a psychiatrist blog titled “Shrink Rap” posted in opposition of House Bill 33, Lynette’s Law, which would criminalize the sexual exploitation of patients by mental health professionals (Shrink Rap: Should it be a Crime for a Therapist to Have Sex with a Patient?). There is some interesting debate within the comments section of that blog. Here was American Live Wire’s response, although much more could have been (and very likely will be) said:

First of all, let’s get this strangely perceived notion of consent out of the way. The very nature of the mental health professional-client relationship makes it impossible for consent to occur. It it lopsidedly unequal, the therapist in such a position of power, the person who the patient has trusted with his or her deepest and darkest secrets. Secrets that even spouses don’t know about. The DHMH booklet “Broken Boundaries” explains: “By its nature, the relationship between helping professionals and their clients is unequal. Trusting that professionals have their best interests at heart, clients become vulnerable in the health care setting. … Because they depend on professionals’ trustworthiness, knowledge, and authority, clients tend to not question a professional’s judgment or behavior. This places the professional in a position of power and can make the client susceptible to exploitation.”

Furthermore, “Broken Boundaries” describes a sexually exploitative relationship as, “Sexual contact occurs between a helping professional and client in a relationship that, on the surface, may appear to be mutually consensual, but the patient’s role make it impossible for her or him to give meaningful consent.” Hey, guess what? Sex without consent is… rape! That’s a crime. (http://www.examiner.com/article/sexual-exploitation-not-consent)

Long term effects of sexual contact with a mental health professional are similar to that of rape victims. Kenneth S. Pope, Phd., ABPP, author of Ethics in Psychotherapy and Counseling and considered one of the foremost experts on therapy sex abuse, provides the following statistics of a national study: “The findings suggest that about 90% of patients are harmed by sex with a therapist; 80% are harmed when the sexual involvement begins only after termination of therapy. About 11% required hospitalization; 14% attempted suicide; and 1% committed suicide.” The most common effects of victims that have been involved with therapist-patient sex include ambivalence between escaping the abusive therapist and protecting him or her, cognitive dysfunction, intense emotional eruptions, emptiness and isolation, impaired ability to trust, guilt, increased suicidal risk, role reversal and boundary confusion, sexual confusion (including believing their only worth is to provide sexual gratification to others), and suppressed anger which may lead to self-loathing, self-punishment, and self-destructive behaviors. (http://www.kspope.com/sexiss/sexencyc.php)

So a mental health professional’s sexual exploitation can cause a person to try to murder themselves, among other things that have them hurt for life. How is that not a crime?

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