Victorian Psychologist Called Out On Inappropriate Client Conduct

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Victorian Psychologist Called Out On Inappropriate Client Conduct

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A former psychologist who penned a love letter to a vulnerable client has been found to have engaged in professional conduct.

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal this week reprimanded the man for engaging in unprofessional conduct of a serious nature while treating a woman between 2002 and 2004, AAP reports.

While retiring last year, the psychologist accepted his behaviour was unprofessional, which included physical contact including hugging, private meetings and a number of inappropriate emails.

"Words and feelings just seem to come naturally from nowhere, demanding to be expressed," he reportedly wrote in one of four emails.

"Up you pop from nowhere in my life with your endearing and funny little ways. I feel you as an ongoing and significant warm and lovely part of my life. Did I know you in another life? Are we, unknown to ourselves, really grown up childhood sweethearts? Loving you."

Treatment for the “highly psychologically vulnerable woman” began in late 2001, with the patient telling the psychologist during their fifth session she thought was “was in love” with him.

Despite the declaration, he continued their sessions, allowing physical contact between them and private meetings outside sessions.

The tribunal said despite no allegation of an intimate relationship between the pair, appropriate boundaries between a psychologist and client was of concern.

An expert psychological report to the tribunal said it was “mystifying” that sending love letters could not be viewed as encouraging someone to fall in love with them, which had characteristics of grooming.

The ex-psychologist said he regretted his “inappropriate behaviours” towards the woman, who he considered anxious and in need of high level support at the time.