Sexual Exploitation Common among Mental Health Practitioners

Psychiatric Watchdog Group Offers Assistance to Victims, Urges Filing Report

Psychiatry Professor Carolyn Quadrio of the University of New South Wales presented research at the World Psychiatric Association conference in Melbourne on Dec 1 showing between 7 and 10% of male therapists have had sexual relations with a patient.  This study is only the latest in a long line of evidence that psychiatrists and psychologists routinely sexually exploit vulnerable patients, according to the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR). Too often, says the group, mental health practitioners who molest their patients escape criminal prosecution because the cases are handled by licensing boards, which treat it merely as “professional misconduct”.

CCHR, an international psychiatric watchdog group, strongly advises patients to report any sexual abuse by psychiatrists and psychologists to the police.

Quadrio’s findings correspond with an earlier Canadian study, which found that 10% of psychiatrists admitted to sexually abusing their patients.  80% of those were repeat offenders.  Another study, by British psychologists Tanya Garrett and John Davis, found that almost 40% of psychologists knew of others in their profession who’d had sex with patients—yet only 13% of the psychologists who knew of such stories had taken any action.

As a public service to law enforcement agencies, health care fraud investigators, licensing boards and the general public, CCHR has tracked more than 1,000 mental health workers convicted of crimes and has created a database of these criminals, found at http://www.psychcrime.org

CCHR also actively alerts the media to mental health workers in their area who have been disciplined for sexual assault of patients. Two weeks ago, a former psychologist was fired from a high school teaching position in Florida after CCHR provided information about her previously undisclosed past: The psychologist, Constance Reynolds, had lost her license in Montana after being accused of having a sexual relationship with a patient who died in her care.

Laws exist in 19 states making therapist sexual exploitation a crime, though this should be otherwise prosecutable as sexual assault or rape.  If you have been molested or abused by a mental health practitioner, file a complaint to the police and fill out CCHR’s psychiatric abuse report form at http://www.cchr.org/abuse

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