Thesis

Psychotherapists' Attitudes and Practices Regarding Sexual Intimacy with Clients

A study was designed to assess the attitudes and practices of psychiatrists and psychologists regarding nonerotic and erotic contact with their patients. A dual aim was to determine if there was a relationship between the attitudes involving contact with patients and the actual practices of the psychiatrists and psychologists. Data were collected, with the use of a questionnaire, from a group of psychiatrists and psychologists on the variables of: the belief in, and the utilization of nonerotic contact with patients in a therapy practice; the belief in, and the utilization of erotic contact with patients in a therapy practice; and whether both types of contact could be misunderstood by the patient. In a survey of the population of psychiatrists and psychologists of Palo Alto, California, it was found that their practices regarding nonerotic and erotic contact with patients were significantly, positively correlated with the attitudes regarding nonerotic and erotic contact with patients. The variables of age, marital status, gender, and the years in practice did not contribute to differences in psychotherapists' attitudes and in their practices of either nonerotic and erotic contact with patients. It was further concluded that of the psychotherapists that responded in Palo Alto, California, intimacy between therapist and patient was quite uncommon.

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