Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Eroticized transference: Mental health professionals explore the impact of a sexualized relationship with their therapists
by Winegarden, Debra L., Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2010, 187; 3447668
Abstract (Summary)

This study focuses on the investigation into the impact of the experience of mental health professionals who have had a sexualized relationship with a former therapist.

Descriptions of the lived experiences of 10 mental health professionals in various stages of their careers were gathered from semi-structured interviews. A Consensual Qualitative Research (CQR) method of data analysis yielded results which were structured first by the specific domain topic areas, immediately followed by categories describing responses in each domain. The approximate strength of the category provides an illustrative core idea that is divided into General, Typical, and Variant.

The results of this study clarified the issues involved in therapist-client sexual relationships. On the positive side, participants felt that they will be better therapists because of the experience. On the negative side, typically the participants experienced deeply disturbing consequences ranging from sadness and loneliness, to more profound clinical implications such as anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress, depression, and lowering of function. Variant results showed positive outcomes for participants who had sex with their therapists.

Results were organized and discussed from a legal, and a moral-sexual-philosophical perspective that calls on mental health professionals to consider sexual ethics as crucial when dealing with these complex issues that can become more difficult when approached with antiquated, authoritarian codes that simply state: do not do it. Consent, autonomy, and mutuality are the primary moral categories which are discussed, weighed, and compared.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Kipnis, Aaron
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 72/05, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Ethics, Psychology, Clinical psychology
Keywords: Boundary violation, Countertransference, Eroticized transference, Ethics, Psychoanalytic, Sexualized relationships
Publication Number: 3447668
ISBN: 978-1-124-52083-4
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