Victim of Attachment Therapy
Auckland, New Zealand
Adult Woman, 2000-2006
Note: The following account has been prepared from press reports, personal interviews, trial transcripts, and other public records.
The name of a psychologist and his patient were permanently suppressed by the New Zealand Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal after the psychologist was found responsible for “inappropriate” behavior on several counts in his treatment of a woman who had, as a child, been sexually abused.
“Mr. S” was fined $10,000 and had his license suspended for 18 months for fostering dependency after admitting numerous counts of professional misconduct in treating “Ms. E” for PTSD and Dissociative Identity Disorder between 2000 and 2006.
In addition to taking the patient on errands, giving her flowers, climbing in her window when she missed an appointment, Mr. S’s boundary violations included treating Ms. E with regular “holding therapy” in up to three two-hour sessions each week. Mr. S would hold sessions in his home, and sometimes in his dressing robe. The touching during these sessions, where Ms. E lay in the lap of Mr. S, was ruled “inappropriate.”
According to the New Zealand Psychologists Board Newsletter an expert witness at the hearing of Mr. S testified that there is no evidence in the empirical research to support the use of touch in therapy as beneficial and that it reduces a client’s defenses, increasing his vulnerability.
Before the Tribunal, Mr. S expressed remorse and admitted his treatment of Ms. E had been harmful.