Bilgola psychologist Jo Wise banned

A Sydney psychologist who had sex with a vulnerable 17-year-old boy has been struck off.
A Sydney psychologist who had sex with a vulnerable 17-year-old boy has been struck off.

A Sydney psychologist who had sex with her client, a vulnerable 17-year-old boy, has had her registration cancelled for five years.

"We are satisfied that the practitioner's conduct was dishonourable and highly unprofessional," the Civil and Administrative Tribunal said on Tuesday.

Jo Wise's failure to observe appropriate professional boundaries culminated when she invited the teenager to her home when her husband was absent and had sex with the youth.

While she didn't attend the hearing, Wise, a married mother-of-three from Bilgola Plateau earlier sent an email saying "I am not a predator and have spent my whole career fighting against predators and trying to repair the damage done by them".

But the tribunal found her conduct was a "gross violation and exploitation of the power imbalance in their relationship".

"The practitioner's conduct was reprehensible, improper and unethical.

"Rather than assisting Client A, her conduct has likely had a detrimental effect on his already fragile state.

"It is conduct to be condemned in the strongest terms bringing as it does the profession of psychology into disrepute."

Wise obtained an Arts-Psychology degree in the USA, before gaining further qualifications in Sydney and being first registered in Australia in March 2012.

Between 2013 and 2019, she worked from home under the name "Jo Wise Youth Work and Counselling", while at times doing work for Community Care Northern Beaches and at Headspace at Brookvale.

The teenager's mother arranged for the consultations, which Wise did in the client's home, after he "crashed" following the deaths of some friends, episodes of self-harm and other mental health issues.

The tribunal found she improperly hugged the teenager, inappropriately conducted a consultation in his bedroom and engaged in frequent, and often sexualised, text messaging with him.

Over a relatively short period, she exchanged over 240 text messages, conduct which was "both improper and unethical".

"It is to be remembered that these messages were addressed to an immature, psychologically vulnerable teenager."

He reported she touched him at his bedroom session, before she "let me know that her husband had a 24 hour shift the next day and that I was welcome to go to hers for a free session".

When he went to her place, he said she undressed them both before they had sex and then she performed oral sex on him.

She later texted saying "I'm sooo sore this morning!! Woke up smelling you on me (smiley emoji)" and telling him to delete all her texts.

Months later the teenager was admitted to the emergency department with suicidal ideation having self harmed .

The hospital notes record "Previously seeing a psychologist - things became weird, trust issues with anyone since". And "bad experience with previous female psychologist who made advances on him".

After the sex at her home, the tribunal found she tried to continue her relationship and did not formulate a clear treatment plan for him.

She told him: "I know you are a boy and all you think about is sex but I was hoping for a little more" which he said "made it 10 times worse for me".

Her email sent on the day of the hearing indicated she acknowledged accountability for her actions, but "she does not express any remorse for the very adverse effects of her conduct".

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Australian Associated Press

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