Therapist abuse can impact a survivor’s life physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially. If your therapist exploits, abuses, or mistreats you, it can have lasting effects on your overall well-being.
Fortunately, you can hold an abusive therapist responsible for the harm they caused. You can seek economic justice and recover financial damages with a therapist abuse lawsuit. A personal injury attorney can help.
How Does Therapist Abuse Affect Survivors?
Your therapist is someone you turn to for help. To openly discuss your issues, the relationship demands trust and vulnerability. Sometimes, this can lead to transference, where clients develop romantic or familial attachments to their mental health care provider. In addition, countertransference can occur when a therapist projects their emotions, desires, or unresolved trauma onto a patient.
Transference can be a helpful therapeutic tool when used correctly. However, when misused, exploited, or employed as a tool for grooming, it is abusive and can cause significant harm.
Therapist abuse can affect a survivor’s life in the short and long term. As Medical News Today explains, abuse can cause:
- Shame and guilt
- Feelings of hopelessness or powerlessness
- Muscle tension
- Chronic physical pain
- Difficulty concentrating
- Loss of sense of self
- Substance abuse problems
The above symptoms caused by therapist abuse can have far-reaching effects on survivors’ lives, affecting their relationships, ability to maintain employment, and overall physical and mental well-being. Furthermore, survivors who experience therapist abuse as children can develop learning disabilities, anti-social behaviors, health problems, and developmental delays.
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Types of Therapist Abuse
As a medical expert and someone you turn to for help, your therapist is in a position of authority. Any exploitation of this position or distortion of the boundaries of your professional relationship for personal pleasure or financial gain is abuse.
Abusers can use many tactics to control those they wish to harm. Types of therapist abuse include:
- Emotional/mental/psychological. Abuse of this kind includes psychological manipulation, coercion, fear, and humiliation. It also includes name-calling, yelling, belittling, blackmail, and threats of violence or retaliation. Abandonment is also emotional abuse.
- Sexual. Sexual abuse in a therapeutic relationship is any form of sexual contact, from fondling to intercourse. It can also include verbal harassment, sexual jokes, inappropriate questions, and coercion. Therapists should not engage in romantic or sexual behavior with a patient under any circumstances. Doing so is exploitative and abusive.
- Financial. Financial abuse may include overcharging a patient, charging them for unneeded services, or taking advantage of a relationship with a patient to extract gifts or money. Financial abuse can also take the form of controlling a patient’s financial decisions.
As mentioned, your therapist is in a position of power, and you are coming from a place of vulnerability. When these factors combine, it can become difficult to recognize the signs of abuse, especially when the exploitation comes from a professional trained in psychology and the subtleties of behavior.
The following are signs of an abusive relationship involving a therapist:
- Your therapist encourages a romantic or inappropriate relationship.
- Your therapist asks to meet outside of the office.
- You receive phone calls, texts, and emails from your provider that discuss personal matters and are unrelated to your treatment.
- Your therapist presses you to discuss personal details unrelated to your therapy (or shares personal information about themselves).
- Your therapist engages in negligent medical practices (i.e., shows up drunk for sessions, frequently cancels or neglects to treat you, suddenly abandons you, or recommends unneeded treatments).
- Your provider encourages you to isolate yourself or causes tension between you and others.
- Your therapist breaches doctor/patient confidentiality.
These examples are only a handful of potential warning signs. The bottom line is you should trust your gut. If something does not feel right, it may not be right. If you suspect therapist abuse, you can file an official complaint with your local or state psychology licensing board. The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards lists regulatory agencies.
You can also reach out to a lawyer with our firm to learn more about your legal options and how you can seek compensation for therapist abuse damages.
You Can Seek Damages With a Therapist Abuse Lawsuit
You could recover financial compensation for damages arising from therapist abuse. We can help you pursue awards for the following:
- Current medical expenses
- Costs of long-term treatment
- Mental anguish
- Emotional suffering
- Anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Physical pain
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Impaired quality of life
How Long Do You Have to Take Action in a Therapist Abuse Case?
The time you have to pursue a therapist abuse lawsuit depends on where you live. Each state has a statute of limitations for medical malpractice, but most deadlines are two or three years after you knew or should of know of the abuse. If the survivor suffered abuse as a child, you may have longer. In addition, states each have a code of ethics and rules and regulations for therapists.
Jenner Law serves clients from across the country. Our attorneys can help you understand your state’s medical malpractice and abuse laws and take action before time runs out. We can also assist you by:
- Preparing and filing your therapist abuse claim or lawsuit
- Identifying your damages and proving your right to compensation
- Protecting your rights and negotiating on your behalf
- Representing you in court if necessary
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Jenner Law Helps Survivors Fight for Economic Justice
Jenner Law has nearly 50 years of collective experience fighting for survivors. We want to help you get the justice you deserve and do so with as little burden on you or your family as possible. We understand the impact of therapist abuse on survivors’ lives, so we offer compassionate and professional legal services that allow you to focus on getting your life back on track. At the same time, we will fight for your financial recovery.