Treatment for Professional Sexual Misconduct.
I have helped many clients who engaged in Professional Sexual Misconduct change the thinking, lifestyle choices, and other dynamic and long term factors that contributed to their engaging in this destructive/self destructive behavior. I have helped them improve their life, increase safety from this, and with their lawyer, have helped some, but no all, regain their professional licence from the state. I bring an optimistic and informed perspective, and help clients change what they can change, let go of what they cannot change, not judge them on past behavior, but help them with what can be done right now to improve their situation. Below is some explanation of what Professional Sexual Misconduct is, and how some otherwise careful, rule following, and kind persons find themselves acting out.
A person in a position of professional authority having sexual contact between themselves and a subordinate or client is Professional Sexual Misconduct. In practice, this often is doctors and their patients, college professors and their students, clergy and their congregants, and supervisors and their subordinates, or any similar fiduciary and or imbalance of power situation, that becomes sexual. Sexual contact in these situations is the exploitation of a client, is among the most serious of professional misbehaviors. While these behaviors are sometimes not illegal, it is often against a professional code. For example, a teacher, doctor, or therapist may have his or her professional license revoked, and additionally, the person in the subordinate position may sue the professional, regardless of if one or both parties are motivated to engage in this sexual activity. In any clinical relationship, having sexual contact with the client even long after the professional contact has ended remains unethical for the professional, because of the client’s transference has not ended, and it is assumed that client’s transference to that professional never ends.
Because of this permanence in the transference, there is no real mechanism for that former clinical professional relationship to expire and leave the professional in a position to be able to, for example, “date” the former client. There is more than one specific path a healthy and appropriate professional takes to this place of pain and inappropriate behavior, but almost always that path includes “progression”. The other almost universal issue present is the professional going through personal or professional crisis. Unresolved issues may take over, triggered by such things as business/professional despair, midlife crisis, death of a someone very close, marriage failure, or any other emotionally current traumatic event, or unresolved event from the past being triggered in the present. Ongoing or newly developing mental health issues, such as untreated psychiatric illness/mood disorder/personality disorder, active substance abuse, paraphilic urges, or a return to sexual addiction, can all leave the professional in a position to be more likely to break boundaries.
The arrangement or style of a professional practice or institution can contribute to these behaviors, by such things as insufficient supervision, a professional being asked to provide services which they are less professionally capable of, or worse yet an environment of generalized poor boundaries that predates the professional in questions time there. The professional may think and act in a style that is exclusively motivated by sexuality, with no emotional attachment to their victim, or they may go in the other direction and believe they’ve “fallen in love” with their client and have much loftier goals for the “relationship”. The way Professional Sexual Misconduct is portrayed in products made by our TV and Film industry is concerning, and can further confuse any professionals with already poor boundaries. The media portrayal of Professional Sexual Misconduct would lead one to believe that sexual contact with a subordinate or client would lead to a life of happiness “ever after”, when in reality, the professional will have a very different outcome. When persons with little to no history of criminal or self destructive behaviors act one out, seemingly out of nowhere, there is always a build up phase, where that person “builds” or “moves” towards the behavior. This is a gradual internal change, they are not necessarily knowing their thinking is slowly becoming less rational. This change in thinking can sometimes be noticed by others, but usually it is not picked up until seen from hindsight. Build up behaviors leading up to the Professional Sexual Misconduct can include, scheduling clients at times so others are not around, meeting clients in not necessarily inappropriate settings but unusual or questionable from what is typical, meeting a client at a social setting or agreeing to have a meal or a coffee with a client when that is not at all customary for his or her field, and giving gifts.