Sexual assaults in therapeutic relationships: prevalence, risk factors and consequences
C. Eichenberg, M. Becker-Fischer, G. Fischer
DOI: 10.4236/health.2010.29150   PDF    HTML     5,783 Downloads   10,615 Views   Citations


A law has been passed in Germany (paragraph 174c StGB), which prohibits therapists from having sexual contact with their patients. This provides the background for a follow-up survey to the previous study completed by Becker- Fischer and Fischer in 1995. The results of this survey are discussed here on the basis of the current status of research concerning preva- lence and risk factors of sexual assaults in therapeutic relationships. The focus of the re- search lies in determining the specific condi- tions of sexual assaults in psychotherapy and psychiatry, risk variables of the therapists and patients, the effects it has on the patients as well as the legal consequences it results in. To en- sure the comparability of the data, an online version of the Questionnaire about Sexual Con- tacts in Psychotherapy and Psychiatry (SKPP; Becker-Fischer, Fischer & Jerouschek) was cre- ated and a survey of N = 77 affected patients was conducted. The majority of the participants in the study reported a serious decline in their overall well being following the incident. How- ever only very few undertook legal steps - only in three cases did it come to a legal procedure. The assumption that sexual contacts in psy- chotherapy result in extremely damaging con- sequences to patients, was affirmed. Despite the changed legal situation, therapists in Ger- many are still not held legally responsible more often than they were 10 years ago. Based on these results a more intensive education of the patients concerning their legal rights is recom- mended.

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Eichenberg, C. , Becker-Fischer, M. and Fischer, G. (2010) Sexual assaults in therapeutic relationships: prevalence, risk factors and consequences. Health, 2, 1018-1026. doi: 10.4236/health.2010.29150.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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