Psychologist dating former patient
All ACA members are required to abide by the ACA Code of Ethics, and 22 state licensing boards use it as the basis for adjudicating complaints of ethical violations.As a service to members, Counseling Today is publishing a monthly column focused on new or updated aspects of the ACA Code of Ethics (the ethics code is also available online at However, if the counselor is found guilty, the insurance company will not pay any monetary damages that are awarded and will also expect to be reimbursed by the counselor for all legal fees incurred in their defense.The fact that sexual contact is the only exclusion contained in a malpractice policy indicates how harmful sexual contact is to a client.Extensive research has led to recognition of the extensive harm that therapist-client sex can produce.Nevertheless, research suggests that perpetrators account for about 4.4% of therapists (7% of male therapists; 1.5% of female therapists) when data from national studies are pooled.
All liability insurance policies that I have seen provide a lawyer and defend a counselor if he or she is accused of sexual contact with a client.
Engaging in any type of sexual or intimate relationship with a current client is abuse of power.
Clients come into counseling emotionally and psychologically vulnerable and in need of assistance, so a counselor trying to engage in such relationships would be trying to take advantage of that client and their vulnerabilities to meet their own needs.
Editor’s note: American Counseling Association members received the 2005 ACA Code of Ethics bundled with the December 2005 issue of Counseling Today.
Completed over a three-year period, this revision of the ethical code is the first in a decade and includes major updates in areas such as confidentiality, dual relationships, the use of technology in counseling, selecting interventions, record keeping, end-of-life issues and cultural sensitivity.