A mum-of-three counsellor said to have had sex with a vulnerable teenage boy insists she’s not a predator, but admitted: ‘I should never have been a psychologist.’
Jo Wise, 40, has been struck off for five years after a tribunal was told she had sex with the 17-year-old at her home while her husband was away.
The hearing heard she and the boy also exchanged more than 240 inappropriate, often sexualised, text messages and had held consultations in his bedroom.
One text read: ‘Woke up smelling you on me. Don’t write back, just wanted you to know I’m thinking about you. PS you should delete all my texts.’
The tribunal found ‘a gross violation and exploitation of the power imbalance in their relationship’.
‘The practitioner’s conduct was reprehensible, improper and unethical,’ it said.
A mum of three counsellor accused of having sex with a vulnerable teenage boy insists she’s not a predator, but admitted: ‘I should never have been a psychologist.’ (Pictured, a stock image of a boy receiving psychological counselling)
The findings added: ‘Rather than assisting [the teenager], her conduct has likely had a detrimental effect on his already fragile state.
‘It is to be condemned in the strongest terms bringing the profession of psychology into disrepute.’
On Tuesday, Ms Wise admitted to Daily Mail Australia that she had frequently crossed the line in therapist-client relationships.
‘I haven’t had the boundaries I needed for my clients,’ she confessed to Daily Mail Australia. ‘I should never have been a psychologist.
‘I treated my clients like family and friends. I realised it wasn’t professional like most psychologists would be, I suppose.
‘I thought that was why I was such an effective clinician – but it was not. I had no business being a psychologist. I am so unwell myself.’
Ms Wise, from Bilgola Plateau in Sydney’s Northern Beaches, admitted the boundary issues had created the ‘grey areas’ which had led to the allegations against her.
‘Absolutely,’ she said. ‘Absolutely. I was not as professional as I should have been with all my clients.’
Jo Wise, 40, has been struck off for five years after a tribunal was told she had sex with a 17 year old at her Northern Beaches home while her husband was away. (Pictured, an aerial image of Sydney’s Northern Beaches )
Ms Wise did not deny sending texts to the boy and admitted: ‘I don’t think you even can fake text messages, but it’s all been taken massively out of context.’
She insisted there was no physical relationship with the teenager.
‘Not in the way they are suggesting,’ she wept. ‘There was no relationship. There was absolutely no relationship.
‘I’m married with three kids. What am I going to do?’
The teenager’s consultations with Ms Wise began in 2018 after the boy’s mother became concerned for her son following the sudden death of four of his friends.
One had taken his own life, one died of cancer, another in a road accident and a fourth died while surfing, causing him to go into dark despair and self-harm.
American-born Ms Wise ran a Youth Work and Counselling consultancy in Brookvale and began treating the boy at his home after a referral from his GP.
The tribunal found that as well as having sex with the teen, she improperly hugged him, inappropriately conducted a consultation in his bedroom and engaged in frequent text messaging with him, which was ‘both improper and unethical’.
‘It is to be remembered that these messages were addressed to an immature, psychologically-vulnerable teenager,’ said the tribunal.
The tribunal said Ms Wise engaged in frequent text messaging, seen here, with the teenager which was ‘both improper and unethical’
The boy said Ms Wise once pinned him down on his own bed, touched him and ‘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 home, he said she undressed them both before they had sex and then she performed oral sex on him.
A few months later, the boy self-harmed and was rushed to hospital as a suicide risk.
The hospital notes record ‘Previously seeing a psychologist – things became weird, trust issues with anyone since.’
The notes added: ‘Bad experience with previous female psychologist who made advances on him’.
After the sexual encounter at her home, the tribunal found Ms Wise tried to continue the relationship and did not map out 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 the teenager told the tribunal ‘made it 10 times worse for me’.
Jo Wise ran her Youth Work and Counselling consultancy service from this address in Brookvale (pictured)
Ms Wise had opted not to appear at the tribunal because of her own mental health issues.
In an email to the tribunal she insisted: ‘I am not a predator and have spent my whole career fighting against predators and trying to repair the damage done by them.’
Ms Wise deregistered herself as a psychologist last November and now works in customer service.
She told Daily Mail: ‘I gave up my registration because I understood that I haven’t had the boundaries that I needed for my clients.’
The mother of three children, aged 4, 7 and 9, admits her life has been devastated by the case and has vowed never to return to counselling services.
She added: ‘I’ve definitely moved away from the health professions. I’ve got to take care of my babies.’
For 24/7, confidential support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
THE DAMING TEXTS FROM PSYCHOLOGIST TO TEENAGER
The tribunal revealed details of some of the intimate moments and texts, often dotted with heart emojis, sent between the psychologist and the teenage boy.
October 3, 2018: ‘You are always welcome in my house’, Ms Wise texted the teenager
October 7: She sent him a text message saying she was working at a Northern Beaches location on Mondays and Tuesdays and asked him if he got a lunch break so they could do ‘lunch together’.
October 11: She sent him a photo of her infant child’s head referring to the child having a ‘mullet’ hairstyle. The teenager had earlier exchanged emails with Ms Wise, including a photograph of his hair with a mullet cut.
October 12: Ms Wise was at the teen’s home and asked to see his duck collection which he kept in his bedroom. The teenager said Ms Wise sat on his bed, with her leg touching his leg. He said she was ‘getting more and more touchy, holding his hand and putting it against her cheek’. He says when he was stretched out on the bed he pushed her playfully and she ‘jumped on top of me and was like trying to pin my hands down’. He described Ms Wise as having a knee either side of his body. The teen said that while in his bedroom, Ms Wise ‘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’. The teenager said he was confused by her behaviour given she was his psychologist.
12 October: ‘Miss you already… want to come to mine before or after 18th pre’s tomorrow’, Ms Wise messaged the boy. She said he could get an Uber to her house and provided him with her address.
October 13: Ms Wise texted stating she was worried how close they were getting. At 7.51pm she texted the teen while he was at a party: ‘I wish I could see you tonight’. He replied that he would be there at 9pm. Ms Wise responded ‘all good need to leave by 11ish’. The teen went to her home after drinking about six or seven beers at the party before his arrival. He claimed Ms Wise had been drinking and offered him a beer which he refused. He said she undressed him, then herself and they engaged in sexual intercourse before Ms Wise then performed oral sex on him.
October 14: ‘I’m sooo sore this morning!! Woke up smelling you on me (smiley emoji) Don’t write back, just wanted you to know I’m thinking about you (heart emoji) PS you should delete all my texts (three emojis) I meant don’t write back anything explicit (emoji) We can still text each other normally (heart emoji) How you feeling today?’, Ms Wise texted the teenager
November 19: Ms Wise attended at the teenager’s home. He initially refused to see her, but after his mother told him not to be rude, he spoke to Ms Wise for approximately 30 minutes in the garden gazebo at the family home.
November 23: Ms Wise attended the teenager’s home and left a birthday present for him for his 18th birthday.
December 7: Ms Wise sent him a text which read ‘[Teenager’s name] I seriously need help are you out? Very f***ed at [redacted]’.
February 6, 2020: The teenager was admitted to the emergency department of Northern Beaches Hospital with ‘suicidal ideation having self harmed by inflicting a number of cigarette burns to his arms the previous week.’