Psychiatrist kissed patient in car, accepted her love texts
A psychiatrist who failed to discourage a vulnerable female patient's erotic interest in him, allowing her to send him love messages and even kissing her in a car, has been fined $15,000.
Dr Gregory Pearson's boundary violations over five years included showing the patient a photo of a vibrator and a naked woman during a consultation, a tribunal heard.
The psychiatrist, who was treating the patient for alcohol dependence, anxiety and depression for seven years, even discussed his sexual relationships, an extramarital affair and his marriage.
Dr Pearson has been reprimanded for professional misconduct and fined $15,000 by Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal after disciplinary proceedings brought by the Health Ombudsman.
Dr Pearson treated the woman as inpatient and outpatient of Currumbin Clinic from 2010, after she had been admitted to Gold Coast Hospital following an overdose of Valium and sleeping tablets, with alcohol.
He also treated her in his private consulting rooms in Bangalow, in northern NSW.
From at least 2012 until the end of the treating relationship in 2017, Dr Pearson was aware of the woman's idealisation and "eroticised transference'' towards him, the tribunal heard.
In December, 2012, Dr Pearson met the woman in her car at Byron Bay, where he kissed her and gave her a Christmas CD of music he had prepared for her.
During the treating relationship the doctor and patient exchanged text messages and Dr Pearson sent the woman texts with photos and a video from his 2014 Canadian skiing holiday.
The patient sent him a photo of herself in her underwear that year and in 2015 she sent him photos from her overseas holidays.
In one message the patient told Dr Pearson her heart was "full of love'' for him, with a love heart emoticon, and in other messages she said she wished she was away with him and that she missed him.
In mid-2016, the patient send a WhatsApp message to Dr Pearson, saying: "Just want you to know alcohol is my addiction, not you!! I just love and adore you''.
In another message that year she said she missed the doctor and said she would always have his back.
The psychiatrist and patient exchanged messages about her romantic feelings towards him, problems in her marriage and other personal matters and regularly texted "happy Friday''.
Clinical and forensic psychiatrist Dr Michael Beech told the Health Ombudsman Dr Pearson should have told the patient that the texts were inappropriate and not allowed it to continue.
"I think that it was grossly inappropriate to give her a CD of songs at Christmas time, let alone meet her in a car park on Boxing Day to do it,'' Dr Beech said.
"This transgresses many boundaries … These are behaviours that stir up transference and erotic transference.''
During the five-year history of text messages, photos and personal disclosures Dr Pearson had engaged in multiple boundary violations with a vulnerable patient, Dr Beech said.
Dr Pearson, who has engaged a clinical supervisor and undertaken education sessions, accepted he had engaged in professional misconduct.
Originally published as Psychiatrist kissed patient in car, accepted her love texts