Physical Therapy Board of California

Sexual Misconduct/Harassment

Enforcement of laws against sexual misconduct is a priority of the Physical Therapy Board of California (PTBC). This type of willful misconduct is considered among the more egregious that a licensee can commit. Business and Professions Code section 2660.1 states that a patient, client, or customer of a licentiate under this chapter is conclusively presumed to be incapable of giving free, full, and informal consent to any sexual activity which is a violation of Section 726. PTBC considers any type of personal relationship between the licensee and the patient to be a very serious breach of public trust unless a statutory exception applies.

Physical therapy never includes sex. It also never includes verbal sexual advances or any other kind of sexual contact or behavior. Sexual contact of any kind in the course of a physical therapy treatment is illegal and unethical. Harm may arise from the exploitation of the patient by the physical therapy provider to fulfill their own needs or desires, as well as from the physical therapy provider's loss of objectivity necessary for effective physical therapy. All physical therapy providers are trained and educated to know that this kind of behavior is inappropriate and can result in the revocation of their license.

By the nature of their profession, physical therapy providers are trusted and respected, and it is normal for patients to feel attracted to someone who is attentive, kind, and caring. However, a physical therapy provider who accepts or encourages these normal feelings in a sexual way, is using the trusted physical therapy relationship to take advantage of the patient.

The fact that the personal relationship between the licensee and the patient at some point may have been consensual does not negate the fact that the licensee breached professional ethics and boundaries, and possibly broke the law, by allowing a personal relationship with a patient to occur.

PTBC strongly encourages you to file a complaint with us so the issue can be investigated, and appropriate action taken against the licensee. Your complaint may also be of help to the PTBC if other complaints with similar allegations against the same licensee have been reported. Individuals may also consider filing a police report with your local law enforcement.