Performance and Professional Standards Panel Hearing
Date of hearing and decision: 21 May 2012
Boundary violation - Other inappropriate relationship (non-sexual)
Documentation - Health record - inappropriate maintenance or disposal
Allegations were made by a woman whose husband had consulted a psychologist. She alleged that the husband and psychologist had formed a personal relationship and that this contributed to the breakup of the woman’s marriage.
The psychologist faced allegations that after the formal termination of the professional relationship, the husband and psychologist continued to maintain an informal therapeutic relationship (consisting of telephone communications with the husband in relation to personal issues arising out the counselling sessions) for a two-year period. It was alleged that the psychologist breached professional boundaries by commencing a personal relationship with a former patient and that she failed to make and keep adequate records of the psychological services provided to the patient during the period.
The Panel found that the psychologist’s behaviour constituted unprofessional conduct because she had maintained an informal therapeutic relationship after terminating treatment, had behaved in a manner that could be construed as both acting as a therapist and as a friend, and because the social contact after the professional relationship was terminated was inappropriate. Further, the Panel found that the psychologist’s clinical records were barely adequate. There was a lack of treatment planning, case formulation, detail regarding interventions and associated responses. It was clear that the psychologist had not kept her appointment diary for the required seven-year period.
The Panel determined to reprimand the psychologist for unprofessional conduct and imposed the following conditions on her registration
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