Therapist dating a former patient

Possible Consequences The Consumer information page of Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards ASPPB — an alliance of state, provincial, and territorial agencies responsible for the licensure and certification of psychologists throughout the United States and Canada — states that sexual contact of any kind between a psychologist and a patient, and in most cases even a former patient, is unethical and grounds for disciplinary sanctions3. Additionally, in some jurisdictions, such activity may constitute a criminal offense. All psychologists are trained and educated to know that this kind of behavior is inappropriate and can result in license revocation.

Why are such relationships considered unethical? To begin with a sexual involvement makes the work of psychotherapy or analysis impossible. For this reason, A sexual involvement is unethical because the psychologist can no longer exercise beneficence in the professional relationship.

Then again, the psychologist is in a position of power over the patient. In medico-legal context, the relationship between a psychologist and a patient falls in the ambit of a fiduciary relationship.

Can Psychologists Date Patients or Former Patients?

In a fiduciary relationship, there is an overarching ethical obligation not to derive illegitimate forms of satisfaction that place the patient at risk of harm. A sexual involvement violates the fiduciary nature of the relationship and is therefore unethical. In the end, there is no doubt that a dating relationship between a psychologist and patient is fraught with complications that can prove to be damaging to both parties if boundaries are crossed. However once the professional relationships has ceased completely and a considerable time period has elapsed, it may be possible for a doctor and a former patient to date each other provided the new relationship is equal and emotionally healthy.

Skip to main content. Nothing huge, mind you, as he's not an idiot and wouldn't be so brash as to say some obvious flirtation neither would I to someone I was a therapist to! I lament that I don't seem to have any interest in them, but that they all seem to be vastly interested in me, to which my therapist states , "I can't imagine why not, your gorgeous, intelligent, funny, [pause] and have the most intriguing eyes".

He then stops as if he's unsure he's said something inapporpriate and we just keep talking.

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He has a habit of staring at me and smiling in a manner that's different than the mannerisms in which I see him interact with other patients. I know it's possible for me to see what I want to see, but really, I don't know how to convince anyone here that I'm not one of those people who does that. I pride myself on being incredibly perceptive, which is a trait that has made me very good at my job, and I do believe that he finds my personality to be intriguing and I'm fairly certain he is physically attracted to me. So, Im not sure what to do now. Do I end the therapy, and find a new one?

Do I tell him the honest reason why I feel we might need to end our professional relationship, or do I make up some bogus excuse? And, lastly, should the opportunity even arise that we should become aquainted on a social level provided our therapeutic relationship is OVER, of course , should I even consider it? These and other questions And no, please do not give me the typical "well, if you are asking, you must know it is wrong" responses, because those are just silly.

People question many things in life, that doesn't make them all wrong. I'm sure I've left out something, but we shall come back to that if anything comes up in responses of people! Thank you very much for reading this lengthy posting, and I appreciate seeing other people's viewpoints on this matter. Oh, and if anyone needs to know or it matters, him and I are approximately the same age early 30's , I am a doctorate level psychologist, he is an MSW level therapist, not that it matters, but that's the most personal information I can give on here and still be totally anonymous ;-. Share Share this post on Digg Del.


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I think that you should end the therapy no matter what. It clearly is no longer serving the purpose it is intended to serve. And if you know the rules about dating patients, why all the rationalization about why they don't apply to you? The theoretical relationship would always be affected by the power differential. Find a new therapist, and find other men to date.

Or if you aren't comfortable with that, discuss your feelings towards him. Didn't they address how to handle things like this ie what to do if a patient is attracted to you in your training?

Can My Therapist Also Be My Friend?

Likewise, I'm sure he is trained to handle that conversation coming from you. Its wonderful that he can get to know you like this. If you stopped seeing him and saw someone else in an attempt to date him, do you think you would still feel attracted to him without the circumstance you're in now? There's something appealing about this "taboo" and also its great that you're not dating, trying to impress on another, or doing some mating dance.

I'd just keep seeing him. When things become more heated I'd ask him if he'd like to get together outside of therapy sometime. Or maybe ask him about himself? I don't know but it really sounds like he's attracted to you. You should always follow your intuition about sex because its usually dead on. Especially those comments he's made. You should just wait and see if things progress and if they start to feel like something REAL then you should find a new therapist and tell him its because you want to see him.

You should definitely end the therapy sessions with this man as soon as you possibly can, and if he asks why, tell him it's because you're attracted to him. Then see what happens But don't try to rationalize continuing to see him; going down that road will only lead to unnecessary complication. That's why they have "supposed rules" about therapist-patient dating. Then I think once you've had a good amount of time away from him, you can re-address your possible feelings for him. But don't forget - even if YOU decide you're okay with dating your former therapist doesn't mean that HE will be.

I understand why the rules are there. I've been involved on both sides of the equation I'm not a schooled anything-having-to-do-with-that-stuff, but have worked in a counselor capacity. IMO, as long as you're both cautious, aware of the boundaries and restrictions involved, it's all consensual, I don't see the big deal. You being a therapist yourself, I would imagine you understand a little better than most how easy it would be to manipulate patients, but I don't think that's the "issue" in your case. Although I could be wrong, I suppose. Some people are really good at denial.

It's a professional relationship but the dilemma ingrained is one of a romantic nature. Right, so, sarcastic responses aside which I'll dutifully ignore forgive me if no one has been sarcastic, it doesn't come across well in typed forums , I know this seems like a silly question coming from someone who should "know better", trust me, but I suppose all those rules you follow on a general basis when it's to do with other people suddenly become questionable when you are trying to apply them to yourself in this situation, does that make sense?

That isn't the case with me, as the "patient". If me and him were to not be patient-therapist anymore, I don't feel there is some imbalance or vulnerability on my end at all.

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As I said, I don't go there out of helplessness or depression, it's more venting on daily life in a way. And again, he doesn't know anything that the majority of my close friends don't know. There are no deep dark secrets of abused childhoods, past intense traumas, illegal activities, etc. When I talk about past dating relationships to him, I don't say anything I wouldn't say to anyone I'm close with to a reasonable degree.

Granted, I wouldn't say all of that to someone on a first date or something, but I've dated guys that I was friends with first in the past, and those guys knew as much about me as this therapist does for the most part. I know to some it sounds like Im trying to find a loophole or rationalize, but believe me when I say this is sort of how I approach everything-- by discussing it from all angles.

It's my pseudo-scientific approach to life ;- I like to analyze everything.

Why Your Therapist Can’t Be Your Friend

Or just habit, I suppose. Anyway, it's somewhat odd, as this is not behavior I myself would engage in on my own professional platform. I have had attractive patients before and never been tempted in any way, shape or form. Somehow my mind automatically shuts them off, as you would with a brother or something. No sexual attraction whatsoever no matter who they are.