New South Wales psychologist Jean Michel Mazaliegue loses license for engaging in sex with female client who sought help during religious crisis

August 20, 2009

The Psychologist Tribunal of New South Wales reprimanded psychologist Jean Michel Mazaliegue and cancelled his license for unsatisfactory professional conduct consisting of, among other things, “knowledge, skill [and] judgment…in the practice of psychology [that] is significantly below the standard reasonably expected of a registered psychologist.”  According to the Tribunal’s order, Mazaliegue treated a female client between March and June 2003, during which time he developed personal feelings for her.  He failed to seek advice from an appropriate authority on how to handle his feelings; failed to terminate the professional relationship with the client and failed to refer the client to another psychologist.  Rather, he engaged in social and physical contact with the client; engaged in therapy session with the client in an informal social setting outside the office and engaged in a personal and sexual relationship with the client, including sexual intercourse.  The Tribunal noted that when the client sought Mazaliegue’s services, she had been a novitiate (a member of a monastic/religious order—such as a nun or monk—who is in a probationary status) and had had a traumatic response to the questioning of her commitment by the religious order she was in.  “The Tribunal finds that [Mazaliegue] pursued sexual contact during the professional relationship despite not only the client’s attempts to avoid a sexual relationship but also despite his knowledge of her personal vows and commitment to celibacy,” [emphasis added] states the Tribunal’s order.  “This was an exploitation of the relationship of trust he had with the client.”  He may not seek re-registration for at least four years and eight months.

(Health Care Complaints Commission v. Mazaliegue [2009] PST 3, 20 August 2009, File Number: PSO1/2009.)


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