Mr Harald (Harry) Mayr – Professional misconduct

10 Apr 2017

The Commission prosecuted a complaint against Mr Harry Mayr, a psychologist working in private practice at Penrith, before the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (“the Tribunal”).

It was alleged that Mr Mayr commenced treating a vulnerable female patient in December 2010 for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) resulting from past sexual traumas. He engaged in a sexual relationship with this patient. 
Mr Mayr submitted claims to Victims Services for therapy he provided to the patient under a scheme that aims to help victims of crime in NSW access services to assist in their recovery.

It was alleged that Mr Mayr failed to maintain appropriate professional boundaries in that he:

  • engaged in regular therapy sessions with the patient at her home
  • sent inappropriate emails to the patient in which he wrote things like “feel my hug” and told the patient that he “loved her”
  • engaged in frequent and lengthy text exchanges and phone calls with the patient
  • introduced different types of “hugs” into their therapy sessions
  • engaged in sexual acts with the patient during therapy sessions, including kissing her breasts, licking her face and masturbating her with his hand
  • engaged in sexual intercourse with the patient at her home, his home and his clinic

It was also alleged that aspects of Mr Mayr’s clinical treatment of the patient were deficient and that he had engaged in improper or unethical conduct in asking the patient to destroy all evidence of their personal communications, namely all email exchanges between them for the period that they were in therapy.

Mr Mayr admitted that he had engaged in a sexual relationship with the patient from around September 2011, however, he denied that it had commenced while he was still providing her therapy and he denied that he had asked her to destroy evidence of their communications. 

Mr Mayr admitted to the Tribunal in writing that his admitted conduct amounted to unsatisfactory professional conduct and professional misconduct, however he did not attend the hearing and did not give evidence.

Decision

The Tribunal found the complaint proven, accepting the patient’s version that the sexual relationship commenced in mid-2011 and that sexual contact occurred during therapy sessions.

The Tribunal made findings of unsatisfactory professional conduct and professional misconduct against Mr Mayr.  It found that as a trained psychologist, Mr Mayr must have been aware of the very vulnerable state in which the patient was when consulting him given her past trauma history and the power imbalance that existed between them, and “nevertheless he proceeded to use that imbalance of power to satisfy his own needs”.

In the circumstances, the Tribunal concluded that the conduct of Mr Mayr was such a serious breach of his obligations as a psychologist that it warranted severe protective orders to be made.  It made the following orders:

  • The practitioner's registration is cancelled.
  • The practitioner is not eligible to apply to the Tribunal for a review of the cancellation order for a period of 5 years.
  • The practitioner is prohibited from providing the following health services, whether as public, private or volunteer, unless and until he obtains re-registration as a psychologist:
    • community health services;
    • counselling;
    • health education services;
    • mental health services
    • supervision or coaching of psychologists, psychology students or any allied health services, and;
    • welfare services or any allied health services necessary to implement the above services.

 

Further Information

The full decision is available at NSW Caselaw

For further information, contact the Executive Officer of the Health Care Complaints Commission, on 9219 7444 or send an email to media@hccc.nsw.gov.au.

The information in this media release is correct at the time of publication. Orders may change; for example, conditions may no longer apply. For current information regarding the status of a registered health practitioner, including any conditions that currently apply, please check the National Register at www.ahpra.gov.au.