Resources: Introduction

It is important, before you make any decision with regard to taking action against an abusive psychotherapist or other health care professional to understand the implications of the abuse and your options.  Social worker Jeanette Milgrom, writing in the Minneapolis Walk-In Counseling Center’s extensive book, Psychotherapists’ Sexual Involvement with Clients (see “Suggested Readings” for full citation) suggests the following twelve options for victim/survivor action:

  • File a civil suit for damages
  • File a licensure complaint
  • Write or call the ex-therapist
  • Arrange for private compensation for damages
  • File a criminal complaint (limited to states that have criminalized)
  • Seek individual or group therapy
  • Request a confrontation or processing session (with a qualified mediator)
  • Seek compensation from a victims' fund (limited to states and organizations that maintain such funds)
  • File a complaint with the ethics committee of a professional association 
  • Notify the employer, agency director, or church hierarchy (n the case of clergy practicing psychotherapy)
  • Report to county or state authorities 
  • Do nothing

Our first recommendation is that you seek the counsel of an attorney who can explain your rights, options, and limitations (such as time limitations for filing) and whether various options should be pursued serially, simultaneously, or not at all.

If you elect to seek individual or group therapy, we recommend that you make clear to the therapist what has happened to you and your possible options for action. Should you decide to take action, it will be critical for the therapist to be comfortable with the process and willing to provide you with support.

We do NOT recommend #3, “Write or call the ex-therapist” unless it is done under the guidance of a qualified attorney who can advise you on how to do this without compromising your rights and options.

Even the decision to “Do nothing,” should be made with the input of a qualified attorney who can advise you as to what might happen if you elect this option and then change your mind.

We highly recommend that you “do your homework” by learning as much as possible about abuse by psychotherapists and other healthcare professionals before making any decisions or taking action.  To assist you with this, we have included the following:

A list of Attorneys:  This list is comprised of attorneys whose names have been given to us by satisfied clients and by professionals who are friends of and work with TELL.  We make no endorsement of any of these attorneys and do not guarantee satisfaction.  We accept neither contributions nor fees from the attorneys listed or have any business arrangement with them.  To see a state-by-state listing of attorneys, click here.

Information regarding professional licensing boards: This information gives a broad overview of licensing issues and suggests ways to locate and access the board that licenses your therapist or other healthcare professional. To see this information, click here.

A List of professional associations:  This list gives the names and contact information of professional healthcare associations and how to access each organization’s code of ethics.  Some organizational websites also allow you to download a complaint form. To see this list, click here.

Suggested Readings: This annotated bibliography includes books for victims/survivors, researchers, and professionals.  To see this list, click here.

For more information and a directory of additional resources, see:  ><

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