How to Initiate Legislation Criminalizing Therapist Abuse

I had a comment today from a reader asking if I had any suggestions or references for how to initiate legislation to make sexual exploitation and abuse by a therapist a criminal act. (While in some states it is illegal, that is not the case for every state in the U.S.) It’s an excellent question, and certainly not the first time I’ve heard it.

Unfortunately, I have no clue. So I’d like to put the question out to you, my readers. How would one go about this? What steps could one take toward criminalizing therapist abuse and exploitation and professional sexual misconduct?

I’d love to start using this blog in a more pro-active way and turn some attention to problem solving. I think this is a great place to start.

Got ideas? Bring ’em on!

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1/27/10 Addendum

Although the following information was originally  published in the comments to the above post, I wanted to add it on since not everyone reads the comments. Thanks to reader Libby for providing this great information! ~Kristi

It is much easier to prosecute at the state level. That being said, it would be helpful to research how the states that have these laws have managed to pass them. Sometimes a grassroots campaign to get a state level senator or house member to introduce state legislation is the best way to go.

The first thing to do would be to form a coalition and garner support from key people at the state level, such as prosecutors, professional organizations, judges, victims and family members who have been affected, as well as experts on the issue.

Start a letter writing campaign with facts, expert opinions and victim impacts. Legislators may not read one letter, but they will take note of hundreds on the same issue. More and more often, social action groups have made excellent use of technology to get the message to many people who can then simply one-click a pre-written letter to their legislator. We call this “arm-chair” advocacy, and it has the advantage of sheer numbers.

Check out websites for any social action organization and I am sure you will find some great ideas. Follow up these letters with press releases for events, such as folks on this site getting published and speaking out publicly. Keep the legislators informed and up to date.

If you can make a policy change at your state level, and enough states also make the same policy change, this is the most effective way criminalize professional exploitation.

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6 Comments

  1. As a SW who specialized in community organizing, this is a question up my alley. It is much easier to prosecute at the state level. That being said, it would be helpful to research how the states that have these laws have managed to pass them. Sometimes a grassroots campaign to get a state level senator or house member to introduce state legislation is the best way to go. The first thing to do would be to form a coalition and garner support from key people at the state level, such as prosecutors, professional organizations, judges, victims and family members who have been affected, as well as experts on the issue. Start a letter writing campaign with facts, expert opinions and victim impacts. Legislators may not read one letter, but they will take note of hundreds on the same issue. More and more often, social action groups have made excellent use of technology to get the message to many people who can then simply one-click a pre-written letter to their legislator. We call this “arm-chair” advocacy, and it has the advantage of sheer numbers. Check out websites for any social action organization and I am sure you will find some great ideas. Follow up these letters with press releases for events, such as folks on this site getting published and speaking out publicly. Keep the legislators informed and up to date. I could go on, but this post is already getting long enough. I would be happy to check back and answer some questions, though.
    If you can make a policy change at your state level, and enough states also make the same policy change, this is the most effective way criminalize professional exploitation.
    Wow, that was fun!

  2. Thank you, Kristi… I am also obviously struggling with this and finding it hard to speak about it, but through therapy I have realized that I have my own way of dealing with tough issues. Quite often by being an advocate for others. Whatever works. I am grateful to you for this resource which has been a blessing to me.

    • Thanks, Libby!
      The above resource is from the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (www.cchr.org). According to the website, the CCHR investigates and exposes psychiatric violations of human rights.

      BE ADVISED: The CCHR was co-founded by the Church of Scientology. You may want to keep that in mind if you check out the site and the resources. (I think we all know now what Scientologists think about psychiatry and mental health practitioners, thanks to Tom Cruise.)

      The above PDF is from their Model Legislation page under the Publications drop-down menu: http://www.cchr.org/#/publications/model-legislation

  3. How can we and this issue be taken seriously when ‘the profession’ shares office space with sex therapy specialist where children are frequently present during group therapy in marriage and family clinics ?
    How about clients referred to licensed and nationally accredited sex surrogate therapist, and frequently paid just like the psychological and mental health practitioners who refer them, with insurance reimbursement ? Where would that branch of the industry fit in ?

    I in no way intend to present as dogmatic, but rather want to present the reality of my personal consequences with the psychological industry.

    Bottom line: The liberal arts psychological industry needs strict oversight and policing from an unrelated outside agency, with routine psychiatric examinations performed on anyone actively practicing.

    I’ve been ready to become proactive for decades, but with mass murderers like the Ft. Hood psychiatrist actively practicing, how can the voice of a sexually assaulted victim of theirs be heard ??
    Tom S. in Tn.

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