De Facto Therapist-Patient Relationship Necessary for Medical Malpractice Claim May Have Existed When Psychologist Gave Employee Advice on Family Problems

Thayer v. OrRico, 792 N.E.2d 919 (Ind. Ct. App. 2003)

An Indiana appeals court ruled a therapist­ patient relationship may have existed between a psychologist and a woman who worked as an employee in the clinic of which the psychologist was half-owner. During her employment, the woman sought advice about problems she was having with her marriage and her children from the psychologist and from her co-workers. After a number of years at the clinic, the woman and the psychologist began a sexual relationship, which continued for approximately one year. At that time, both the employment and sexual relationships were ended.  The woman and her husband sued the psychologist for malpractice, claiming in part that the psychologist had mishandled the transference phenomenon that had arisen. The trial court dismissed the lawsuit after determining that no therapist-patient relationship existed between the woman and the psychologist because the psychologist had merely counseled the woman as his employee and friend...

Found in DMHL Volume 23 Issue 1