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Counsellor censured following rape comments

Author
Ric Stevens, Open Justice,
Publish Date
Mon, 5 Sep 2022, 2:54PM
The counsellor refused to hand over notes to the woman when asked. (Photo / 123RF stock image)
The counsellor refused to hand over notes to the woman when asked. (Photo / 123RF stock image)

Counsellor censured following rape comments

Author
Ric Stevens, Open Justice,
Publish Date
Mon, 5 Sep 2022, 2:54PM

A "victim-blaming" counsellor has been censured after saying a woman's disclosure of a rape was a lie intended to "disguise her guilt" about her infidelity.

The woman complained to the Health and Disability Commission, saying the counsellor's sexually explicit questioning about the incident went "beyond interrogation, victim blaming (and) victim shaming".

She said the counsellor asked a lot of personal questions "over and above what a police officer would ask in a similar situation".

She said that she found the experience very distressing and traumatic, and that she was upset, shaking and crying when she left the clinic.

When asked for an explanation about her complaint, the counsellor told the commission he believed the woman's account was "false, manufactured lies".

In a report released today by Deputy Commissioner Vanessa Caldwell the woman is identified only as Mrs A and the counsellor as Mr B.

Mr B told the commission: "(Mrs A's) claim of rape is baseless, and nothing more than an attempt to disguise the guilt she has for being a willing participant in her own infidelity."

However, the commission said this response was "wholly inappropriate" and his conduct during the counselling session in September 2020 did not align with ethical standards.

Mr B was providing counselling to all members of her mutually consensual "thruple" - Mrs A, her husband, and a female intimate partner.

He saw all three in individual counselling sessions and sometimes together.

The woman complained to the commission about the counsellor's conduct, including the tone and manner of communications, that he disclosed personal information about her to the other two, and that he refused to provide her with a copy of clinical notes when she asked for them.

Mr B was registered with a professional body overseas but chose not to become a member of the New Zealand Association of Counsellors (NZAC) when he migrated here.

However, he told the commission he abided by the NZAC code of ethics in his practice, and the commission said he was also subject to the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights.

Caldwell found that Mr B failed to abide by ethical standards for a number of reasons:

-He failed to act with care and respect in the session with Mrs A in September 2020 when she told him about the rape incident.

-He failed to minimise harm to her by telling her that he considered her experience to be false, and advised her against making a complaint to police.

-He did not use appropriate or respectful language in communications about Mrs A to the commission.

-He did not adhere to clear professional boundaries, highlighted by information he shared about Mrs A with her sexual partners.

-He failed to provide Mrs A with her health information when requested.

Caldwell recommended that Mr B write an apology to Mrs A.

She also said he should attend training on therapeutic communication, establishing rapport and trust with clients and on providing counselling for patients who have experienced sexual assault.

Evidence of this training was to be provided to the commission within six months, along with a summary of what he had learned.

Where to get help:

NZ Police

Victim Support 0800 842 846

Rape Crisis 0800 88 33 00Rape Prevention Education

Empowerment Trust

HELP Call 24/7 (Auckland): 09 623 1700, (Wellington): be 04 801 6655 – 0

Safe to talk: a 24/7 confidential helpline for survivors, support people and those with harmful sexual behaviour: 0800044334.

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

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