United Kingdom

NHS psychologist Dr Annemarie Dalhuijsen-Bendijk receives caution over improper relationship

An NHS psychologist has been let off with a caution after claiming that a video she filmed with a female patient in which they were both wearing lingerie was for an art project.

Dr Annemarie Dalhuijsen-Bendijk recorded herself in bed stroking the woman's hair with her hand and her leg with a feather, a tribunal heard.

But the psychologist said she was pursuing 'artistic goals' not sexual ones and that they were wearing the Victorian underwear as costumes.

Dr Annemarie Dalhuijsen-Bendijk was based at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS trust in Co Durham, pictured, when she was treating the woman known as Patient A

Dr Dalhuijsen-Bendijk also worked at Northumbria Hospital in Northumberland

A misconduct hearing was told that the psychologist also met her patient for lunch, visited her at her parents' house and went with her to an art gallery.

But a panel ruled that while her behaviour was inappropriate it was not sexually motivated - and she escaped with a caution.

The Health and Care Professions Tribunal was told that Dr Dalhuijsen-Bendijk was working as a Clinical Psychologist at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust in Co. Durham and at Northumbria Hospital in Northumberland.

In 2016 a complaint was made by one of the patient's friends who alleged the pair developed a personal relationship outside of their therapy sessions and recorded an artistic film together - a project which lasted over a year.

The friend also alleged that this relationship had caused emotional disturbance to the woman - named only as Patient A.

The artistic project culminated in Patient A making an 11 minute long video from the footage, the panel heard. Patient A compiled her favourite clips for the video and described them as 'precious moments, just like your child on holiday.'

In the video, the pair can both be seen wearing Victorian lingerie and Dr Dalhuijsen-Bendijk can be seen stroking Patient A's hair with her hand and stroking her leg with a feather.

The video also showed the pair in a state of undress on a bed, the tribunal heard.

Dr Dalhuijsen-Bendijk was accused of saying in the video to her patient, 'you have a beautiful hole - two holes,' or words to that effect.

But the psychologist said this comment was about the holes in her patient's stockings and that Patient A was talking about a memory card not going in the right hole.

In the video, Dr Dalhuijsen-Bendijk can also be heard saying to her patient 'of course there's a connection, that's what it is, isn't it? There's something there.'

She claimed she was talking about an artistic connection with her patient rather than a sexual one.

The HCPT panel found that Dr Dalhuijsen-Bendijk's actions were not sexually motivated but inappropriate.

'(We have) considered (her) explanation for embarking on the relationship with Patient A and accepts that her motivation was the pursuit of artistic goals, not sexual.

'(We are) not satisfied that (her actions) were carried out for the purposes of her own sexual gratification or in pursuit of a future sexual relationship.'

The tribunal ruled a caution would be an appropriate sanction as Dr Dalhuijsen-Bendijk had shown remorse and attended a course on maintaining boundaries.

The panel ruled: 'It is clear to the Panel that Dr Dalhuijsen-Bendijk has reflected on and learned from this experience and is determined not to repeat her mistakes.' 

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