With the latest malpractice accusations against prominent local psychiatrist Dr. Keith Ablow making national news, I feel compelled to speak out as a fellow Jewish mental health provider from the North Shore. Three female patients are suing Dr. Ablow, alleging that he committed abhorrent acts of sexual violence during treatment sessions, which he denies.
Sadly, documented cases of sexual violence by medical professionals have appeared more common than ever nowadays, perhaps due to the expansive electronic news cycle and survivors increasing bravery and willingness to come forward despite great risks. What is especially sadistic about the abuse of patients by mental health professionals is that many patients are often seeking care for trauma they have already sustained from sexual violence.
The abuse of power by someone who is entrusted with the most intimate care of vulnerable people is a violation of a sacred type of trust. Unethical behavior by licensed and board-certified mental health professionals hurts the mission of the entire human services field and makes accessing professional support an even scarier prospect for people who are often already rightfully nervous about trusting a stranger with their care. Education for doctors, therapists and social workers includes ethics training, which those providers are legally bound to uphold once they are licensed to provide treatment. These basic ethical standards often prohibit dual relationships and any type of sexual contact, even if it is consensual. This is for the explicit protection of patients and to uphold the reputation of medical and human services professions for humane and effective care.
Any professional, regardless of reputation or status, who is found to be in violation of these basic ethical standards must lose their license to practice. May Dr. Ablow be judged fairly and swiftly.
Daniel Goldberg, LICSW, Beverly