Added: September 5, 2015 – Last updated: September 5, 2015


Authors: Susanna Kim and Alexandra Rutherford

Title: From Seduction to Sexism

Subtitle: Feminists Challenge the Ethics of Therapist–Client Sexual Relations in 1970s America

Journal: History of Psychology

Volume: 18

Issue: 3

Year: August 2015 (Received: December 2, 2014, Revised: May 26, 2015, Accepted: June 2, 2015)

Pages: 283-296

ISSN: 1093-4510 – Find a Library: WordCat | eISSN: 1939-0610 – Find a Library: WordCat


Keywords: 20th Century | U.S. History | Offenders: Mental Health Professionals; Victims: Patients


Link: American Psychological Association (Restricted Access)

Link: EBSCOhost (Restricted Access)


Authors: Alexandra Rutherford, Department of Psychology, York

Abstract: »Before the 1970s, psychologists and other mental health professionals who had sex with their patients committed no ethical violations. Indeed, the line between seduction and sexual exploitation in the therapy hour was extremely blurry to patients and therapists alike. This article is about how that changed. We focus on feminist psychologists' efforts, through the American Psychological Association Task Force on Sex Bias and Sex Role Stereotyping in Psychotherapeutic Practice, to document and reduce sexism in psychotherapy, including that involving therapist' client sexual relations. We contextualize these efforts within the larger feminist critique of the psy-disciplines that began in the late 1960s, highlighting how psychologists used several feminist strategies to recast seduction as sexism and revise the profession's ethical standards to specifically state that sexual intimacies with clients are unethical. As an example of a feminist intervention into psychology's–and society's–extant gender ideologies, this process highlights the mutually reinforcing entanglements of psychology and feminism, both methodologically and politically.« (Source: PsycINFO Database Record)


  Feminist Critiques of Psychology and Psychotherapy (p. 285)
  The Formation of the Task Force on Sex Bias and Sex-Role Stereotyping in Psychotherapeutic Practice (p. 287)
  Methods, Strategies, and Findings of the Task Force (p. 289)
  Conclusion: Recasting Seduction as Sexism (p. 292)
  References (p. 293)