Sexual attraction in conjoint therapy

Steven M. Harris, Dinah J. Harriger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Considering the magnitude of the potential repercussions concerning sexual attraction between mental health professionals and their clients, relatively little research exists in the field of marriage and family therapy (MFT). Although the topic of sexual attraction and various ethical dilemmas accompanying the issue have raised awareness of the increasing need to address sexual attraction dynamics in therapist training programs (Harris, 2001), the inherent gray nature of the topic often makes it difficult to address. Research shows that that a majority of therapists encounter feelings of sexual attraction either toward or from their clients during their careers. In light of the MFT research addressing sexual attraction in therapy, to date few studies address the phenomenon in the context of conjoint therapeutic sessions, a significant component of our profession. This paper presents the results of a study designed to assess how therapists in training think about how they would handle attraction in the context of a conjoint couple session and discusses the inherent difficulty in managing sexual attraction in such a context.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-216
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Family Therapy
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2009


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