A psychologist has been struck off for five years after a tribunal heard that the married mum-of-three had sex with a 17-year-old patient.
The tribunal took action against Jo Wise, 40, from New South Wales, Australia, after it was told that she and the boy exchanged more than 240 inappropriate text messages – and held consultations in his bedroom.
One of the messages she sent said: “Woke up smelling you on me. Don't write back, just wanted you to know I'm thinking about you. PS you should delete all my texts.” Another said: “Wish I could see you tonight.”
The tribunal ruled that there had been “a gross violation and exploitation of the power imbalance in their relationship”, adding: “The practitioner's conduct was reprehensible, improper and unethical.
“Rather than assisting [the teenager], her conduct has likely had a detrimental effect on his already fragile state.
“It is to be condemned in the strongest terms for bringing the profession of psychology into disrepute.”
Wise – who has kids aged four, seven and nine – admitted to the Daily Mail that she had frequently crossed the line in therapist-client relationships.
“I haven't had the boundaries I needed for my clients. I should never have been a psychologist,” she said.
“I treated my clients like family and friends. I realised it wasn't professional like most psychologists would be, I suppose.
“I thought that was why I was such an effective clinician – but it was not. I had no business being a psychologist. I am so unwell myself.”
American-born Wise, from Bilgola Plateau in northern Sydney, did not deny sending the texts but tearfully said they had been taken out of context, and she insisted there had been no physical relationship with the boy.
“There was no relationship. There was absolutely no relationship,” she told the Mail. “I'm married with three kids. What am I going to do?”
The teenager's sessions with Wise began in 2018 after his mum became concerned for him following the deaths of four of his friends.
One took his own life, one died of cancer, one died in a road accident and one died while surfing. The boy had begun self-harming as a result and Wise began treating him following a referral from his doctor.
The boy told the tribunal that Wise had pinned him down on his own bed, touched him and “let me know that her husband had a 24-hour shift the next day and that I was welcome to go to hers for a free session”.
When he went to her home, he said she undressed them both before they had sex and then she performed oral sex on him.
After that, the tribunal found that Wise had tried to continue her relationship and did not map out a clear treatment plan for him.
A few months later, the boy self-harmed and was rushed to hospital as a suicide risk.
Wise did not appear at the tribunal, citing her own mental health issues, but she told the hearing via email: “I am not a predator and have spent my whole career fighting against predators and trying to repair the damage done by them.”
She took herself off the psychologists’ register last November.
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