What do you do when a client starts to be flirtatious or ask questions that appear to be sexual in nature. These comments can often be ambiguous and tend to nudge our boundaries rather than overtly step over them. The ambiguous nature of the comments means the clinician may have a tendency to dismiss their intuition that they are sexual in nature and try and just ignore it. However the more often it is repeated the less the clinician can ignore it and at some time has to make a decision to confront of highlight what is going on. Failure to address the issue often leaves the clinician with feelings of anger and powerlessness which may impact on their therapeutic interaction with the client as well as impacting on the therapist’s confidence and self esteem.
As a changing in blogging approach I have put this question out to all the clinical staff in our psychology department and will post their responses as they come to hand. What I have asked them is to provide the exact words they would use to confront this behaviour.
Dealing with this issue can feel difficult even for experienced clinicians. As an older man it is not an issue I face with any regularity but in supervising interns many of whom are young and female they regularly run into this issue.
See the following for responses to this: