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The Fallout From Sexual Exploitation by a Therapist

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Sexual exploitation by a therapist or sexual contact between a therapist and their client is not only a violation of trust and highly unethical, it can subject the therapist to a civil lawsuit. In Illinois, there are civil statutes that address therapist liability for being engaged in sexual contact with patients. One such statute is the Illinois Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Confidentiality Act (740 ILCS 110). Under this act, a therapist who engages in a sexual relationship with a client may be subject to civil liability for breach of confidentiality and other related claims.

The impacts of a therapist having inappropriate relations with a client can be significant and wide-ranging. Some of the key impacts to a client include:

  1. Emotional and Psychological Harm: The client may experience emotional distress, confusion, guilt, shame, and a sense of betrayal as a result of the inappropriate relationship. This can lead to mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and post-
    traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  2. Violation of Trust: Exploitation by a therapist can erode the trust that is essential for a therapeutic relationship. This can have long-lasting effects on the client's ability to trust others, including future therapists.
  3. Impact on Future Relationships: Because of the vulnerabilities experienced by the patient, they may struggle with forming healthy relationships in the future due to the betrayal and boundary violations experienced in the therapist client relationship.
  4. Impact on Therapy Outcome: The inappropriate relationship can derail the therapeutic process, making it difficult for the client to achieve their therapeutic goals and potentially causing harm to their mental health.

It’s important to consult with a qualified attorney familiar with Illinois laws and regulations regarding therapist-client relationships to understand the specific legal implications in any given situation. There are several claims that should be considered and pursued through civil actions for damages, including emotional distress, professional malpractice, and breach of fiduciary duty. At Dolan Law, our lawyers can provide guidance on how to move forward with a potential claim.


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