Licensed therapists must maintain professionalism when providing services because their work can be complex and sensitive. Whether a psychiatrist, psychologist or counselor, these service providers must uphold specific standards and avoid inappropriate behavior. If your therapist shows unethical behavior or instigates sexual contact with you, it can be illegal, warranting intervention from the relevant licensing board.
Unfortunately, clients often go to therapists when they are vulnerable or under severe stress, making them prone to abuse or manipulation. It is vital to know your rights as a client and spot the following inappropriate behavior when obtaining therapy services:
- Intimate conversations involving lewd exchanges of images and other media
- Sharing stories that are sexual
- Initiating unwelcome physical intimacy
- Excessive and unnecessary interactions outside of scheduled sessions
- Having your therapist share their emotional and mental baggage, such as personal issues, marital concerns and other inappropriate information
- Expressing affection or love for each other
- Giving gifts between you and your therapist
- Manipulation, such as the therapists giving harmful advice or supporting unhealthy behaviors like isolation
These examples of inappropriate behavior are often warning signs of sexual misconduct by the therapist, depending on the circumstances. These practices could violate your rights as the client, making it reasonable to file a complaint to the appropriate licensing board.
Addressing inappropriate behavior before it gets worse
You can take legal action against your therapist if they sexually harass or abuse you. However, these incidents can also cause damage and emotional or psychological distress. You can exercise your rights as the client by filing a complaint for any misconduct that violates your right to quality service in a safe environment.
Reporting these incidents might not put the violator behind bars, but it could kick off investigations that may result in disciplinary actions issued by the licensing board. Addressing inappropriateness as soon as possible can help prevent worse incidents, potentially saving you from further harm.