Professional Licensees: Just Say “No” to Inappropriate Client/Patient Relations

It is common knowledge that workplace romances are a bad idea. Yet, people continue to date their co-workers or in some cases, even their supervisors. Although these relationships can cause problems for other employees, most employers do not prohibit such relationships.  Licensees, on the other hand, are regulated not only by their employer but also by their respective professional licensing organizations. Most licensing boards prohibit licensees from having intimate relations with clients or patients. Despite these rules, each and every year attorneys, therapists and other licensees find themselves flirting with danger.

Due to the very nature of their work, licensees develop a trusting relationship with the client or patient. If you find yourself tempted to pursue intimate relations with a client or patient, you need to just say “no” and walk away from the thought. Inappropriate relations can not only cost you your license but also your time, money and reputation. Even criminal charges are possible. Here a few things all licensees need to do to protect themselves from this Pandora’s box of potential liability:

  • Know the rules: Ignorance of these rules will not help save you or your license.  Every licensee needs to know the rules and regulations set forth by their licensing board regarding patient/client sexual relations. For example, the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct prohibit attorneys from having sexual relations with a client unless the consensual sexual relationship began prior to the attorney-client relationship. Kansas marriage and family therapists, however, are prohibited from making sexual advances and engaging in physical intimacies and/or sexual activities with a client or anyone who has been a client in the last twenty four months.
  • Understand there is no true-love exception: Some licensees fool themselves into thinking that if the prohibited relationship is true love or even results in marriage that the licensing board may look the other way. This is not the case. If you find yourself becoming attracted to or developing intimate feelings for a client/patient, it may be a good time to examine your feelings. Are you truly in love with this person or are you experiencing a mere transference?
  • Keep copious records: Even if you have not engaged in any actions that you believe could be considered as sexual advances, perhaps your client or patient has misconstrued the relationship. Therefore, it is a wise idea for therapists to record their sessions so there can be no confusion later on. For attorneys and any other professions where recording is uncommon or not an option, make sure you keep detailed records of all encounters.
  • Make a referral: If you find your attraction towards a client/patient is just too tempting and fear that may act on your feelings, refer the individual to a colleague. Referring the individual out to another practitioner is also a good idea if you feel that he or she is making inappropriate advances towards you.

If you believe your professional license is in danger because of alleged inappropriate relations with a client or patient, you need an experienced professional license defense attorney to aggressively represent you. Contact the Sanger Law Office today at 785-979-4353 for a free confidential consultation. Our experienced team will take the time to discuss the charges brought against you and construct a plan to protect not only your license but your professional livelihood as well.