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Counsellor’s relationship with former patient (14HDC00627)
Download Counsellor’s relationship with former patient (14HDC00627) (PDF 119Kb)
Professional boundaries ~
Inappropriate relationship ~ Former patient ~ Code of Ethics ~
A woman was referred for counselling by her general
practitioner. The woman saw a counsellor in a professional capacity
on a number of occasions over three years.
Within one month after having ceased their professional
relationship, the counsellor and the woman began a personal
relationship. Both the counsellor and the woman confirm that
their relationship was sexual. The counsellor and the woman's
personal relationship ended after approximately six years.
Approximately two years after their personal relationship ended,
the woman complained to the counsellor's employer about his
relationship with her. Following an internal investigation by the
counsellor's employer, the counsellor resigned from his employment.
The counsellor's employer was not aware of the counsellor's
relationship with the woman, prior to receiving her complaint.
It was held that the counsellor acted unprofessionally and
unethically by failing to maintain appropriate boundaries and
engaging in a personal relationship with a former patient. The
counsellor failed to comply with professional and ethical standards
and, accordingly, he breached Right 4(2).
The counsellor's employer was not vicariously liable for the
counsellor's breach of the Code.
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