Obstacles to the dynamic understanding of therapist-patient sexual relations

Am J Psychother. 1992 Oct;46(4):515-25. doi: 10.1176/appi.psychotherapy.1992.46.4.515.


Several dynamic resistances appear to interfere with rational and empirically based discourse about therapist-patient sexual misconduct. These resistances include the lure of reductionism and a longing for simplicity; wishes for "political correctness"; gender bias; and confusion about the nature of the trauma in sexual misconduct. We conclude that (1) empirical study may produce unpleasant results; (2) "politically incorrect" models of misconduct merit study with care equal to "politically correct" ones; and (3) those reenactments we call transference-countertransference should be viewed in all their human complexity. Only then will our increased understanding of misconduct offer hope of prevention.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ethics, Professional
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Professional-Patient Relations*
  • Psychoanalytic Therapy
  • Psychotherapy / standards*
  • Sex Factors
  • Sexual Behavior*