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A therapist holds a position of trust. When they violate that trust, they damage the patient and discredit their profession.

If a therapist exploited you sexually, emotionally, or financially, you could take steps to hold them accountable. A Tacoma therapist abuse lawyer could listen to your side of the story and explain your legal options. Working with a local sexual abuse attorney could help you take your power back and move forward with dignity after being abused by your therapist.

Coming Forward After Counselor Abuse Can Be Difficult

Patients enter a vulnerable state when they interact with their therapists, but this vulnerability can open a patient up to misconduct from an unethical therapist. Additionally, sometimes the power dynamics in a therapist/patient relationship disguise the therapist’s misconduct. The patient might not realize that a situation is dangerous, exploitative, or inappropriate until it is too late.

An experienced and compassionate Tacoma attorney could listen to a patient’s story without preconceived notions or judgment. If the therapist might have exploited the patient, our legal professionals could explain the patient’s alternatives. This discussion is confidential, and the patient chooses how to proceed without pressure or shame.

How Therapists Take Advantage of Patients

The therapist-patient relationship is sensitive, and counseling sessions are often uncomfortable. However, although exploring a patient’s past trauma or damage might be appropriate, any activity that disempowers the patients or recreates traumatic situations is inappropriate.

Therapist abuse could take many forms. A romantic or sexual relationship between therapist and patient is never appropriate; both the law and a therapist’s ethical guidelines prohibit these relationships. The American Psychological Association’s Code of Ethical Conduct Sections 10.5-10.8 outlines these regulations. Other ways a therapist could abuse a patient include:

  • Providing unnecessary or ineffective treatment for financial gain
  • Entering business partnerships with patients
  • Encouraging patient dependency on the therapist
  • Violating confidentiality
  • Physically “correcting” a patient or encouraging a patient to engage in physically damaging, risky, or harmful behavior
  • Embarrassing, humiliating, or shaming a patient
  • Inappropriate prescribing practices
  • Discriminating against or stereotyping a patient based on their age, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, or other inappropriate criteria

Other behaviors also could be considered therapist abuse, depending on the circumstances. A Tacoma attorney could advise a patient whether specific conduct constitutes therapist mistreatment.

Reporting an Unethical Therapist

If a therapist’s conduct was unethical or inappropriate, the patient or their legal representation could report them to the Department of Health. The patient also could consider filing a complaint with the licensing board for the profession the therapist practices. The complaint process sometimes results in the provider receiving an admonishment, license suspension, or even license revocation.

Bringing Legal Action Against the Therapist

Filing a complaint with the licensing board or Department of Health could damage the therapist’s reputation and even result in them losing their license. However, a patient who suffers harm at the hands of a therapist deserves compensation. Thankfully, bringing a civil lawsuit against a therapist forces them to pay for their actions.

A patient could bring a professional negligence lawsuit against anyone holding a license as a counselor, clinical psychologist, clinical social worker, or licensed family therapist. If the abusive professional was a psychiatrist, the patient can likely file a medical malpractice claim against them.

When a patient alleges professional negligence, they must show that the professional in question violated the standards of their profession or provided substandard care compared to other similarly licensed professionals practicing in the area. The patient also must prove that they suffered documentable harm due to the professional’s misconduct.

Damages in Therapist Abuse Cases

When a patient proves harm resulted from a therapist’s negligence or misconduct, they are entitled to compensation for their suffering. Compensation could repay a patient for lost wages, medical expenses, reduced earning capacity due to psychological trauma, or reduced quality of daily life. A detail-oriented lawyer in Tacoma could help a patient compile and document the numerous losses they suffered due to their therapist’s abuse.

Call a Tacoma Therapist Abuse Attorney About Seeking Compensation

If you worked with a therapist who committed misconduct or abuse, standing up for yourself might feel challenging. Thankfully, you can rely on a compassionate lawyer from the Jackman Law Firm to stand by your side during your case process.

A Tacoma therapist abuse lawyer could help you take your counselor to court. The money you could win might help you pay for the additional care you need and empower you to move past the incident. Call today to speak with our compassionate legal team.