Wollongong psychologist banned after having sex with former patient

Brooke Ledner, banned from practising psychology for a year in June for having an inappropriate relationship with a former patient.

Brooke Ledner, banned from practising psychology for a year in June for having an inappropriate relationship with a former patient.

A Wollongong psychologist, who counselled a patient with an alcohol problem, went on to have an inappropriate relationship with him involving sex and getting drunk.

On Thursday, 31-year-old Brooke Ledner was banned from providing health services for a year after she admitted unsatisfactory professional conduct between June and October 2014 and professional misconduct from then until January 2015.

"The seriousness of (her) conduct is exacerbated by her personal conduct of drinking to the point of intoxication with the patient A, who had been treated for alcohol abuse," said the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal in its decision.

Brooke Ledner gained her qualifications at the University of Wollongong. Photo: Facebook

Brooke Ledner gained her qualifications at the University of Wollongong. Photo: Facebook

Ledner, who gained her qualifications at the University of Wollongong, also spoke to him of "being intoxicated, intimated that she was driving whilst intoxicated and made references suggesting she was using alcohol as a coping mechanism.

"Patient A was plainly vulnerable and coming out of a difficult time in his life.

"The likelihood of harm being done to him through the relationship was high and, in fact, came to pass".

In early 2014, Ms Ledner counselled him during his residency at a Sydney drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre, kept in contact with him after he left and exchanged texts before they met at a bar in October and later had sex.

The relationship lasted for a few months, during which time they exchanged thousands of text messages.

The Australian Psychological Society's code of ethics states that psychologists cannot have sex with a former patient for at least two years after the professional relationship has ended.

Ms Ledner had told patient A she could lose her job by having the relationship, as well as revealing that her therapist had told her to stop contact with him, at least for a while.

In his statement, patient A said he had fallen "quite hard for her" but she was "hot and cold with me", which increased his anxiety levels and led to him starting to drink a lot of alcohol.

"I now realise she had complete control over me," he said.

"For example, if we argued she would bring up things I had confided to her during counselling".

As a result of the relationship, he had isolated himself from friends and family, stopped seeing his psychologist for a time and had thoughts of self-harm.

The tribunal was satisfied Ms Ledner would never repeat her conduct, finding she appeared to deeply regret her actions.

AAP

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