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Wednesday 17 January 2018

Psychologist struck off for inappropriate relationship with teenage patient

Harley Street
Harley Street

Rosa Silverman

A psychologist who allegedly discouraged a teenager from contacting her family and arranged for two friends to adopt her has been struck off for an inappropriate relationship.

Gillian Levett regularly socialised with her 16-year-old patient, taking her out to dinner, to the cinema and to the theatre, the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) heard.

She was also said to have had frequent contact with her by telephone or using Skype, and to have invited her to stay with her at her home in Hove, Sussex, over several weekends.

The girl, named only as Miss A, had been diagnosed with chronic obsessive compulsive disorder at the Harley Street clinic in 2007 but the sessions stopped when her father’s cheques bounced.

She told the misconduct hearing she had turned up at the clinic a year later, having run away from her father’s Oxford home and feeling “very unhappy”.

Ms Levett began treating her for free and during the session told her she “thought it best that I did not have contact with my parents at all, especially my father,” the teenager said.

She told the panel she stopped speaking to her parents and they did not know where she lived.

Ms Levett also suggested two of her own friends in the United States adopt her.

Derek Adrian-Harris, chair of the HCPC panel, said: “In the Panel’s opinion Ms Levett should have been sufficiently alerted to Miss A’s condition and likely behaviour and withdrawn from any contact with Miss A when Miss A reappeared after the initial assessment in 2007.

“Ms Levett should certainly have done this by the time Miss A was consistently seeking help from her. Ms Levett should have realised that Miss A would have had reason to become deeply reliant on her and others because of Miss A’s disturbed family background, her past clinical history and the treatment and help Ms Levett was giving to, and organising for, Miss A.

“The involvement by Ms Levett, beyond the treatment that she was providing her, included being involved in suggesting adoption by two of her own friends in the United States of America, writing personal letters to Miss A with terms of endearment and allowing Miss A to stay and be treated in her own home in Hove.”

The psychologist had “clearly crossed boundaries of her professionalism” and entered the realms of a personal relationship with her patient, he added.

Ms Levett was struck off the HCPC register for failing to maintain appropriate boundaries with her patient and breaching the confidentiality of both patients and former patients while working in London.

The psychologist, who had denied Miss A was her patient or had ever received therapy or care from her, plans to appeal against the panel’s decision at the High Court.

A spokesman for her said: “If this young woman, who had turned up on her office doorstep homeless, frightened and drenched from the rain had been Ms Levett’s patient, she would have taken a step back, recognising professional boundaries.

“But she was not, and what Ms Levett and her friends did in immediately coming to her aid and continuing to support her through a number of crises would in the minds of most decent people be considered as good, generous, caring, responsible and kind.”

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