Individuals in positions of power sometimes abuse that power and harm others. Unfortunately, therapy is no exception. Therapy requires trust and vulnerability, making patients susceptible to being targeted and taken advantage of by bad actors.
Some common violations are:
- Engaging in dual relationships
- Breach of confidentiality
- Unethical billing practices
- Sexual relationships
- Client abandonment
Understanding Ethical Violations in Therapy
This list is not definitive and is just the tip of the iceberg for the types of violations committed by therapists. If you believe you are being manipulated, abused, or otherwise violated by your therapist, you have the right to hold them accountable for their actions.
Your therapist should not be your friend, family member, business partner, or otherwise. Therapists have an ethical duty to provide the highest standard of care for their patients. To do so, they must refrain from engaging in dual relationships with patients that could potentially impair their professional performance.
Breach of Confidentiality
In some cases, therapists are required to release information about you when requested by employers, spouses, insurance companies, or other institutions. Your therapist should be clear about the limits of confidentiality, how confidential information is stored, and when and why they are releasing this information.
However, if a therapist is not required by law to release information and has not received your consent to share information, they may be guilty of breaching confidentiality.
Unethical Billing Practices
Therapists are required to bill patients and insurers accurately. Before beginning treatment, they should explain their billing policies. Some examples of unethical billing practices could be:
- Up charging for services rendered
- Duplicating charges (billing more than once for a service)
- Phantom charges (billing for services never rendered)
- Misrepresenting quantities of medications or items received by the patient
Unethical billing is a serious offense, like other violations, and can land therapists with serious consequences.
It is never okay for a therapist to engage in a sexual relationship with a client. Not only do sexual relationships impair the professional performance, but they can also have dire emotional and psychological consequences. We see this form of improper conduct much too often, and it always ends poorly for the patient.
For example, patients may experience regression, experience guilt, be at an increased suicidal risk, feel isolated, and lose their ability to trust.
Generally, engaging in a sexual relationship with a client is not permitted before two years after ending care. However, even then, it can be dangerous.
You or your therapist have the option of ending care at any time. However, abandonment happens when a therapist abruptly ends services when care is still necessary. Instead, termination of services should be carefully thought out and discussed by both parties.
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How Therapy Abuse Happens
Therapy abuse happens for many reasons, and none of those reasons is the patient’s fault. Therapists are highly trained professionals aware of the above ethical violations and how to avoid them. Yet, they may still abuse the therapist-client relationship for the following reasons:
- Inability to set and keep boundaries
- Personal or financial gain
- Personal issues
Abuse is abuse regardless of the reason or intent, and if your therapist is committing an ethical violation, you have the right to hold them accountable for their actions.
Reporting Unethical Violations
If you believe your therapist is committing ethical violations, you can report them to your state licensing board. The licensing board will review your complaint and any evidence you submit and decide whether the complaint is valid. Based on this decision, they may take disciplinary action against the therapist, including but not limited to terminating their license, requiring additional training, or fining them.
You can also file a lawsuit against the therapist if you believe they committed medical malpractice. A medical malpractice lawsuit is a civil suit that allows you to claim compensation for your sustained damages. For this lawsuit, you would have to prove that:
- The therapist owed you a duty of care.
- The therapist breached their duty of care.
- The therapist’s breach of duty of care caused you harm.
- You sustained damages due to the harm.
A therapist abuse lawyer can help you build your case and collect evidence to support these claims.
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Getting Help with a Therapy Ethical Violation Claim
When standing up against your abuser, having an attorney on your side can benefit you. Therapy abuse lawyers will review your case and advise you on how to proceed. They can also conduct an investigation, collect evidence, build a legal case, and represent your interests in and out of court.
Our attorneys at Jenner Law are committed to helping people like you reclaim their power and heal in peace. Contact our office today.