National survey of social workers' sexual attraction to their clients: Results, implications, and comparison to psychologists

Ethics and Behavior 4 (4):369 – 388 (1994)
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Abstract

A survey form sent to psychologists (Pope, Keith-Spiegel, & Tabachnick, 1986) was adapted and sent to 1,000 clinical social workers (return rate = 45%). Most participants reported sexual attraction to a client, causing (for most) guilt, anxiety, or confusion. Some reported having sexual fantasies about a client while engaging in sex with someone other than a client. Relatively few (3.6% men; 0.5% women) reported sex with a client; training was related to likelihood of offending, though the effect is small and complex. An analysis of eight national studies (data from 5,148 therapists) found significant effects for gender (more male offenders) and year of study (about 10% annual decrease in reported offenses since 1977) but not profession (i.e., no difference among psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers). Most social workers reported no graduate training whatsoever about sexual attraction; only 10% reported adequate training.

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