Therapists at Risk: perils of the intimacy of the therapeutic relationship


Publisher: Jason Aronson, Inc.

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Therapists are at risk, and the risk is increasing. Well-meaning practitioners used to believe that if they were adhering to ethical codes, and doing their best, they didn’t have to worry about being sued or brought before licensing boards. but in today’s litigious climate they are worried, and rightfully so. Their concern surfaces at the same time that the professions learning better ways to help particularly troubled patients who have often been badly abused and traumatized.

Dr. Hedges and his co-authors highlight

  • the leading ethical and legal dilemmas in therapy today
  • the management of malpractice exposure
  • the nature of memories and recovered memories and the causes of real and perceived abuse
  • the trauma pf psychotic transference and how to acknowledge and deal safely with sexuality
  • the plight of the accused therapist and his/her response to the attendant stress
  • the nightmare of legal claims and suits and the importance or support for the therapist

This book seeks to help clarify the issues, manage the dangers, and restore confidence in the psychotherapy process for clinicians who are experiencing fear, constriction, and loss of satisfaction in their work.

Therapists at Risk addresses all those who work in depth with patients who at one time were considered untreatable. These very fragile and difficult patients present new technical problems, and with them the kinds of dangers to therapists that may appear in legal actions. Hedges revisits and expands upon his work on recovered memories, providing new insights into the nature of memory and its function in the therapist-patient relationship and also a penetrating assessment of ‘truth’ in the psychotherapeutic enterprise. The needs of patient and therapist can be a volatile mix indeed, and, using Hedges’ concepts concerning the function of intimacy in the therapeutic interaction, the book describes the emergence of transference psychosis and the threats to therapists of lawsuits. Hedges and his co-authors move well past the traditional notions of countertransference to establish new parameters fo the therapist-patients interaction, as well as projecting the legal cautions that have become increasingly essential for therapeutic work.”

Jacquelyn Gillespie, Ph.D.

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One comment on “Therapists at Risk: perils of the intimacy of the therapeutic relationship”

  • Vasudeo Paralikar says:


    Dear IPI,
    Why did I find you so late? It is such a relief to see how I happened to navigate successfully many potentially risky situations in the past 40 years of my practice as a psychiatrist who has respect for psychologists and psychotherapies! Coming from a context where there was no formal training at that time in formal psychotherapy, but treating patients just using medicines without understanding patients’ self-view and worldview didn’t make sense. I am grateful to my teachers and patients who shaped my identity as a cultural psychiatrist coming from dynamic humanistic bias. I am still reading Facing the Challenge…, thanks for the generous gifts in the form of these vital books! Learning about organizing transferences is essential for each student in the area of mental health!

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