Accused of sexual misconduct and gross negligence in the treatment of eight female patients, San Diego psychologist Charles Hansen has agreed to surrender his license to practice in California. In graphic detail, eight women alleged abuses that included having sex with Hansen during therapy sessions, as well as being drugged and forced to have sex, according to court documents. In a prehearing brief, Hansen attributed some of his behavior to drug abuse. Deputy Atty. Sanford Feldman said the case could not be discussed until the Medical Board approves a formal agreement with Hansen.
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All cases of therapist abuse involve malpractice. However, not every case of therapist malpractice necessarily includes abuse. A case can also be brought against a psychotherapist just as a case can be brought against any healthcare provider for violation of the standard of care in terms of negligently diagnosing and treating a patient. All licensed psychotherapists are held to the same standard of care, except psychiatrists who are also held to the standard of care of appropriately medicating patients. Sex with a current patient or a patient who has been seen for treatment within the last two years is strictly prohibited, whether or not the sexual relationship was consensual.
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Participating in multiple relationships with a client never crossed my mind. Yes, I recognized that working as a female with adolescent males with boundary issues put me in a position to potentially experience encounters and attempts of an inappropriate nature. However, the reciprocation of their feelings toward me was never in the cards.
Recognizing common symptoms of childhood sexual abuse can help parents, caregivers, teachers, social workers, counselors and childcare staff alert the appropriate authorities and take proper steps to protect the welfare and safety of our children. It is far too often that I hear stories of adults, who fail to recognize that something is wrong with their child and attribute concerning changes in their kids behavior to temperament, age or other misguided explanations. Because of this, I want to take a quick look at 11 common psychiatric symptoms experienced by victims of childhood sexual abuse but please keep in mind that this is not a diagnostic guide or a substitute for professional consultation. I have tried to clump together common symptoms that bring people both children and adults to the therapy office due to past history of childhood sexual abuse but this is by no means a comprehensive list and any of those symptoms taken separately may have other etiologies. Depending on the age, specific nature of the sexual trauma and the temperament and coping skills of each person, the clinical presentation may look differently.