Ethics for Social Workers

Erotic Countertransference: When You are Attracted to Your Patient

Instructor:  Kylie Dennis, PhD, LCSW

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KylieDate: Saturday, August 19, 2017

Time: 10:00 a.m. – Noon

Location: Institute Classroom A 8820 Ladue Rd., 3rd Floor, St. Louis, MO 63124

Fee: $50

Class participants must be Licensed Clinical Social Workers.   This course, when completed in its entirety, fulfills the Missouri LCSW licensure renewal ethics requirement

Credit hours:

1.0  hour of  Self Study Credit Hours awarded upon completing required readings and passing on-line post-reading test

2.0 Classroom Credit Hours awarded when class is completed in its entirety

Certificates awarded upon completion of on-line post-class survey

All social work codes of ethics include clear injunctions against sexual acting out. As with most rules, forbidding the behavior is insufficient for preventing it. A clinical social worker can be prepared with an approach that addresses feelings of sexual attraction towards a patient, rather than avoiding them or acting them out. Using psychoanalytic theory, this course will explore the phenomenon of sexual attraction to a patient and suggest a method of working with it in a therapeutic, while ethical manner.


At the end of this program participants will be able to:

  1. Describe how and why sexual attraction to a patient may occur, may deepen, and may be avoided or acted out.
  2. Distinguish between five types of countertransference love.
  3. Use erotic countertransference in a therapeutic manner, in compliance with social work ethical codes.

Required Reading

Celenza, A. (2010). The guilty pleasure of erotic countertransference: Searching for radial true. Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 11(4), 175-183.

Sherby, L. B. (2009). Considerations on countertransference love. Contemporary psychoanalysis, 45(1), 65-81.


About Kylie Dennis, PhD, LCSW – I am a psychotherapist specializing full-time in the treatment of eating disorders in Saint Louis, Missouri. My private practice is a warm, supportive, personal alternative to large treatment centers. My approach is to start with a careful evaluation and to respect that struggling with an eating disorder is an individual’s attempt to cope. Together, we explore the meaning of the symptoms and work on finding healthier, more effective ways of handling stress, emotional pain, and relationship problems. Treatment options include individual, family, and group therapy. For professionals, I offer consultation and training. For the public, I offer workshops and public speaking tailored to the needs of your organization. I am committed to the Health at Every Size philosophy, and to promoting the equality of all human beings.


 Click HERE for Continuing Education Credit details.