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Alpert, J. Sexual boundary violations: A century of violations and a time to analyze. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 34 2
Jump to navigation. On a recent study tour to the USA, funded by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, I visited seven places providing specialist evaluation, rehabilitation or educational services for professionals who have transgressed professional boundaries. These services typically deal with a range of different professions, including health workers, clergy and psychological practitioners.
Far too many therapists and analysts tend to think about ethics from a paranoid—schizoid position. Necessary, but somehow cast with an unsavory and unwelcome tinge of Other, our ethics codes are apt to feel more like intruder than companion, certainly not something easy to fold comfortably into our charged and busy days. When I teach ethics workshops to colleagues, some come with a stoic attitude—in local jurisdictions, six hours a year are required for license renewal—and the braver enter with a note of defiance, as if it were offensive to the analytic enterprise that the rules of our professions should apply to us.
Sexuality is a vital, defining part of our identity. We are subject to sexual shaming from early childhood, when we are most vulnerable to moral judgments from family and society—and to boundary violations from family members and those older than us. As adults, we seek a partner and try to balance the constraints of monogamy with sexual adventure.
Prevention of professional boundary violations in psychotherapy is a matter of crucial importance for the mental health field. Patients are damaged by boundary violations. Families of therapists and patients alike are devastated.
This workshop would present the problem of sexual boundary violations among mental health practitioners and other relationships that contain an inherent power imbalance. The form of the workshop would be multi-media, power point in a manner designed to encourage audience participation. I would review and incorporate findings from empirical studies on prevalence, precursors, risk factors and prevention. Most importantly, I would provide the audience with a preventive measure, based on a study of personality characteristics of transgressors.
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