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.’
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