Sexual harassment is defined by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:
- Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment or academic advancement.
- Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions or academic decisions affecting such individual.
- Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or academic environment.*
Illegal sexual harassment falls into four categories:
- Quid pro quo – Quid pro quo means something in return for something else. This form of sexual harassment is linked to the giving or withholding of some benefit or privilege in exchange for sexual interaction, or when bribery or coercion is used to obtain sex. For example, a supervisor makes unwelcome sexual advances and either states or implies that the employee must submit if he/she wants to keep his/her job or receive a raise, promotion, or job assignment. Another example is a college professor suggesting to a student that complying or not complying with his/her sexual overtures will affect the student's grade.
- Hostile environment – An employee, co-worker, patient, student, etc. does not have to be fired, demoted, or denied a raise or promotion to be "harmed." Even if threats are not involved, unwelcome sexual actions can negatively impact the work or school environment. Sexually explicit jokes, posters, calendars, graffiti, vulgar statements, abusive language, innuendoes, and overt sexual conduct can create a hostile environment. For example, a surgeon tells "off color" jokes in the operating room, an attorney curses at and demeans employees, a janitor who makes comments about the bodies of female co-workers, or a shop foreman allows sexually provocative calendars or posters to be displayed in the work area or break room.
- Sexual favoritism – In this type of harassment, a supervisor or teacher rewards only those employees or students who submit to sexual demands. The other employees or students may be denied raises, promotions, grades, recommendations, etc. An example is a teacher who gives higher grades to those students who participate in sexual interaction with him or her. Another example is a doctor who promotes or gives raises only to those members of the office staff who allow him to touch or rub up against them.
- Aggressive acts – These include actual physical behaviors, such as unwanted embraces, kissing, touching, fondling, or more assaultive forms of sexual behavior. Examples would include a minister who embraces or kisses female members of his congregation without their permission, a gynecologist who fondles his patient's breasts for his own sexual gratification during physical examinations, or an executive who pats his or her employees on the buttocks.*
Individuals can be treated for sexual harassment and, in most cases, safely returned to work. Individuals accused of sexual harassment undergo a comprehensive evaluation to determine whether treatment is needed and, if so, the nature and extent of that therapy.
Our outpatient treatment program is rapid, intensive and goal directed. We utilize an eclectic approach to treat professionals as well as non-professionals who have been accused of sexual harassment.
Major Treatment Components:
- Sex education to define sexual harassment in its various forms and help the individual better understand his or her motives for carrying out this behavior.
- Cognitive therapy to identify and disrupt distorted beliefs and attitudes that support sexual harassment.
- Empathy training to help the individual become more aware of the impact of sexual harassment on his/her employee, staff or student.
- Psychotherapy to address personality characteristics and other contributors to sexual harassment.
- Relapse prevention to identify the triggers for harassing behavior and how to either avoid them or cope with them more appropriately.
- Behavior therapy to reduce urges to engage in sexual harassment and gain better control over this behavior.
- Anger and assertiveness training, as needed
- Substance abuse treatment, as needed.
- Formulation of a plan to allow the individual's safe return to work, when appropriate, including a system of accountability to help ensure that the individual does not re-offend (for example, periodically having co-workers complete a short questionnaire regarding the individual's behavior).
Unique Treatment Features:
Ongoing small groups for professionals who have been involved in sexual harassment in their practices or clerical assignments. These professionals are redesigning the structure of their work activities to eliminate opportunities for sexual harassment. The groups allow detailed discussions regarding what has, and has not, worked for other professionals.
Availability of accelerated outpatient treatment. Patients from outside the city of Atlanta may be seen two to three times per day over an eight week period in order to quickly complete all of the elements of the 96-100 session treatment program. Special attention is paid to continuity of care and to continued relapse prevention once the professional returns to his practice or clerical duties.
The initial three-day evaluation includes:
- Review of legal, licensing board, therapy and other records.
- Interviews with relatives, the spouse or practice associates with consent of patient.
- Several hours of clinical psychiatric interviews.
- Psychological tests specific to the case.
- Psychophysiologic testing specific to the alleged misconduct.
- Outline of specific treatments needed for the safe continuation of professional practice.
- An in-depth report sent to the medical or licensing board, or supervising church authority completed within 10 days of the assessment.
Please contact our office at 404-872-7929 for the cost of the initial assessment and group and individual therapy sessions. Credit cards are accepted for all outpatient charges and complete information for insurance billing is provided.
*Reference: Bravo E. and Cassidy E. The 9 to 5 Guide to Combating Sexual Harassment. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. NewYork: 1992, pp. 23-39
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