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'Neutralising the Patient': An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of Therapists' Accounts of Sexual Boundary Violations.

McNulty, Nick. (2009) 'Neutralising the Patient': An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of Therapists' Accounts of Sexual Boundary Violations. Doctoral thesis, University of Surrey (United Kingdom)..

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Abstract

Sexual contact between psychological therapists and their clients is regarded as highly damaging, both to the clients and to the professions. Regulatory bodies impose increasingly severe sanctions upon disciplined therapists. Theoretical accounts of these sexual boundary violations were generally psychodynamic in orientation and observational in character. This study sought to capture therapists’ own accounts of sexual contact with clients. Three therapists who had been disciplined following sexual relationships with current or former clients were interviewed. Analysis of the transcripts using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis suggested that, for these therapists, an important step in enabling the relationship was a neutralisation of the client’s status as a mental health patient. This was achieved by minimising their mental health problems and emphasising the conventionality of the relationship. The origins of the relationship were not revealed to supervisors. The course of the relationship had important implications for the therapist’s identity, whether they saw themselves as a victim or a perpetrator. An important goal for future research efforts was to establish whether these beliefs represented efforts to avoid shame or condemnation, or were enabling scripts that might facilitate boundary violations. The study generated material for training interventions. It also reinforced the central importance of the supervisory relationship in helping therapists to avoid sexual contact with clients.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Divisions : Theses
Authors : McNulty, Nick.
Date : 2009
Additional Information : Thesis (Psych.D.)--University of Surrey (United Kingdom), 2009.
Depositing User : EPrints Services
Date Deposited : 06 May 2020 14:06
Last Modified : 06 May 2020 14:09
URI: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/id/eprint/855974

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