Vol. 28 Iss. 8 - December 19, 2011



Agency Decision

Title of Regulation: 18VAC125-20. Regulations Governing the Practice of Psychology.

Statutory Authority: ยง 54.1-3600 of the Code of Virginia.

Name of Petitioner: James D. Watwood.

Nature of Petitioner's Request: Increase the time limit for romantic or sexual relationships with patients from two years after termination to indefinite when the patient has been a victim of rape, incest, or sexual abuse.

Agency Decision: Request denied.

Statement of Reason for Decision: At its meeting on November 8, 2011, the board carefully considered and thoroughly discussed the petition. Its vote was to deny the petition because the board has already proposed to extend the time limitation on relationships with clients from two to five years, which will provide greater separation between the termination of professional services and any initiation of a personal relationship. Notwithstanding the stated time prohibition, current regulations place the burden on the licensee to demonstrate that there has been no exploitation of a client in the initiation of a relationship after that time has passed. Additionally, the board was concerned that documentation or differing interpretations of sexual abuse, etc. could make enforcement of a permanent prohibition difficult to enforce.

Agency Contact: Elaine J. Yeatts, Agency Regulatory Coordinator, Department of Health Professions, 9960 Mayland Drive, Suite 300, Richmond, VA 23233, telephone (804) 367-4699, or email

VA.R. Doc. No. R11-51; Filed November 28, 2011, 12:42 p.m.