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Inappropriate relationship with patient

Our case studies are based on real life fitness to practise concerns we have received

Type of concern: Inappropriate relationship with patient

Profession: Psychologist


Standards of conduct, performance and ethics (updated in August 2012)

  • Standard 1. You must act in the best interest of service users
  • Standard 3. You must keep high standards of personal conduct
  • Standard 13. You must behave with honesty and integrity and make sure your behaviour does not damage the public’s confidence in you or the profession

Case study

A psychologist’s employer raised concerns that the registrant had taken a service user on a trip involving an overnight stay in a shared hotel room, bought the service user alcohol and appeared to be under the influence of alcohol in the presence of the service user/

The registrant was present and represented at the final hearing. The Panel was in no doubt that there was an intimate relationship between the registrant and the service user. The Panel was, also, in no doubt that the boundaries of the personal and professional relationship were blurred between the registrant and service user. The Panel found that the failure of the registrant to maintain appropriate boundaries was serious and amounted to misconduct. During the registrant’s evidence, the Panel felt that the registrant still did not fully understand the extent of the risks and danger that her actions caused to the service user and the risks other members of the public were exposed to. Therefore, the registrant had not demonstrated full insight.

The Panel felt that the public, knowing the facts and findings in this case, would have great concern. Their confidence in the profession would be undermined if they did not find that the registrant’s fitness to practise was impaired. The Panel decided that the issues identified were capable of correction. There was no persistent or general failure which would prevent the registrant from doing so. Therefore, the Panel felt a conditions of practice order to be a proportionate and appropriate response to the risks identified. The Panel felt that this would provide sufficient protection to the public.

Measures we put in place to protect the public

The Conduct and Competence Committee imposed a twelve-month conditions of practice order.


Learning material
Case study
Practitioner psychologists
Tudalen wedi'i diweddaru ymlaen: 18/12/2023