Ethics in Sex Therapy: A Neglected Dimension (8 CEs)


8 CEs

Presented by: Daniel Watter, Ed.D.

Recorded workshop available via video on demand



Most ethics workshops have focuses primarily on the essential elements of risk management.  While such concepts are clearly important, they represent only a fraction of what ethics and ethical practice should be about.  Indeed, most ethics workshops encourage sex therapists (and other healthcare practitioners) to think more like lawyers than as clinicians.

This workshop will take participants beyond the typical admonitions of “bad behavior” and focus on the ethical nuances that clinicians face when dealing with the complex realities of actual clinical practice.  Topics to addressed will include: dealing with the ethical dilemmas inherent in the increased medicalization of sex therapy, the ethical perils and pitfalls in diagnosing sexual disorders, the vagaries of managing sexual feelings in psychotherapy, and the challenges of practicing ethically in a healthcare environment that constantly assaults and tests the integrity of sex therapists and other healthcare professionals.

Learning Objectives:

1. Identify the four principles underlying healthcare ethics codes

2. Describe how the four principles can be utilized to create ethical policy policy and resolve ethical dilemmas

3. Explain the ethical complexity and impact of diagnosis on the sex therapy process

4. Explain the ethical complexity and impact of an increased use of medical and pharmaceutical interventions on the sex therapy process

5. Identify the ethical complexities of sexual feelings that occur within the process of sex therapy

6. Describe 3 strategies to manage the sexual feelings sex therapy patients may develop toward their therapist

7. List 3 strategies to manage the sexual feelings sex therapists may develop toward their patients

Activity Schedule:

9:00-9:30 Introduction and overview of the day’s agenda

9:30-11:15 Principlism as the foundation of ethical decision-making

11:15-1:00 The ethical perils and pitfalls of diagnosis

1:00-2:00 Lunch

2:00-3:30 Ethical dilemmas related to the increased use of medical/pharmaceutical interventions.

3:30-4:45 Presentation of case: Heart to Heart

4:45-5:30 Analysis and discussion of Heart to Heart

5:30-6:00 Conclusions and Wrap-Up

About the Presenter:

Dr. Daniel N. Watter is a founding partner of the Morris Psychological Group, P.A. located in Parsippany, New Jersey. His primary areas of practice focus on the treatment of individuals and couples experiencing sexual and/or relationship problems.

Dr. Watter received his doctoral degree from New York University in 1985, and has also earned a post-graduate certificate in Medical Humanities (with a concentration in healthcare ethics) from Drew University. He is licensed by the State of New Jersey as both a psychologist and a marital and family therapist. In addition, he is Board Certified in Sex Therapy by the American Association of

Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT), and the American Board of Sexology (ACS), of which is also holds Fellowship status. Dr. Watter is an AASECT certified sex therapy supervisor, and has been elected to Fellowship Status in the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health (ISSWSH).

In addition to his private practice, Dr. Watter has held several faculty appointments. He has served as an adjunct professor of Psychology at Fairleigh Dickinson, Drew, and Seton Hall Universities, a clinical instructor of OB/GYN and Women’s Health at University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-New Jersey Medical School, and a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral medicine at the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Watter is also a member of the medical staff of the Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, New Jersey, and served on the Medical Center’s Ethics Committee.

Dr. Watter is a member of several professional organizations, and has been elected to leadership positions in many. He has recently completed two terms on the New Jersey Psychological Association’s Ethics Committee where he spent two years as the Committee’s chairperson. He has also served two terms as the Secretary/Treasurer of the Society for Sex Therapy and Research (SSTAR), where he previously served as Membership Officer. Dr. Watter is also the former chair of the Diplomate Certification Committee for the American Association for Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT). Currently, he is serving as the President of SSTAR. In 2009, Dr. Watter was appointed by New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine to the State Board of Psychological Examiners.

A frequent lecturer at professional meetings throughout the United States, Dr. Watter is also the author of several professional articles and book chapters on topics such as sexual function and dysfunction, and ethics in healthcare practice. He the co-author of the textbook, Health Counseling: A Microskills Approach, which was published by Jones and Bartlett, and is currently writing a textbook for Springer Publishing on using patient narratives to inform sex therapy practice.

Go to Top