A psychologist has been suspended for a year after falling in love with a patient and maintaining a sexual and inappropriate relationship with them.
Sydney psychologist Julie Ann Catt was found guilty by a tribunal of unsatisfactory professional conduct and professional misconduct.
The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal found Ms Catt ‘failed to maintain appropriate professional boundaries’ with a female patient between November 2012 and May 2015.
She unsuccessfully argued for her identity to be suppressed.
It can now be revealed that Ms Catt is the sister-in-law of Australian actor Alex Dimitriades, best known for starring in ’90s television series Heartbreak High.
The tribunal found Ms Catt and her patient sent sexual emails to each other, kissed in a practice room at the psychology clinic, and had touched each other’s breasts at two Sydney nightclubs – ARQ and Della Hyde – although Ms Catt denies this.
Sydney psychologist Julie Ann Catt was found guilty by a tribunal of unsatisfactory professional conduct and professional misconduct
The psychologist had began treating the patient, who can’t be identified and is now aged in her 50s, in 2009 but the relationship turned flirty at the end of 2012.
The patient had ‘very complex psychological problems and was vulnerable’, the tribunal found.
In emails between the pair, Ms Catt had written to the patient in November 2012, saying ‘you blow my mind’ and ‘I have all kinds of complicated feelings about being flirtatious with you’.
‘I know beggars can’t be choosers, but I’d prefer someone femme and sweet to boss around, if you don’t mind terribly much,’ Ms Catt wrote to her patient in May 2013.
In January of 2013, the patient expressed her feelings for Ms Catt and in April asked to end their ‘therapeutic relationship’.
The patient had asked to stop their therapy sessions again in October 2014.
‘Please help me, I’ll survive the rejection. But I won’t survive you,’ she said.
‘Shut my therapy with you down because I just can’t. Refer me to somebody you trust and have trust in me I am no risk to you. Ever.’
The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal found Ms Catt, a Sydney psychologist, had ‘failed to maintain appropriate professional boundaries’ with a female patient between November 2012 and May 2015
While Ms Catt stopped treating the patient in June 2015, their relationship continued until 2017.
Ms Catt told the patient she had fallen in love with her in December 2015.
The same month she sent an email to the patient which read: ‘Removalists here. Now you will never be able to bend me over that lounge.’
The tribunal found that Ms Catt had let the patient into a practice room in the psychology clinic in either 2016 or 2017 where they kissed. Ms Catt denied this.
In January, 2016 Ms Catt sent an email to the patient which read: ‘Holy f**k I cannot believe how bad I want you. I like seeing your mind work too. I want to get in my car, drive to Sydney, and spend the next 18 hours in bed with you. Gah!’.
Ms Catt sent sexually explicit emails to the patient
Pictured is another email shared between the pair in January 2016
The following month she sent another email.
‘What do I think about? How it feels to kiss you. What it would be like to f**k you. To sleep with you (or have insomnia with you),’ it read.
The tribunal found Ms Catt’s conduct was ‘inappropriate in circumstances where the practitioner had recently been in a therapeutic relationship’ with the patient.
In December, 2015, Ms Catt told the patient that as per the rules of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, a therapeutic relationship between a psychologist and patient must have ended two years before any personal relationship can begin.
The tribunal heard the patient had also sent sexual emails to Ms Catt, and one time said she wanted to ‘bend her over the couch and f**k her from behind’.
The patient emailed Ms Catt in March 2019, ending the relationship and asking her to stay away from her neighbourhood.
In a statement submitted to the tribunal, the patient said she had ‘no idea I was being retraumatised rather than loved’.
She had unsuccessfully argued for her identity to be protected and it can now be revealed Ms Catt is the sister-in-law of Australian actor Alex Dimitriades (pictured)
‘By 2021, I felt like I was drowning with the responsibility of protecting Julie and started to feel overwhelming guilt that I had threatened to report her in 2019,’ she said.
‘I felt equally guilty that I had not reported her and that she may do this to another. I feel trapped and that the attachment I have to Julie is not reversible. I can’t form any romantic interest or emotional attachment to another person.
‘I often recoil against sexual, physical or emotional advances from people. I am squeamish about being hugged or touched in a non-sexual way by friends. I have become cut off from intimacy and feel isolated from society.’
Ms Catt was found to have shown ‘genuine remorse’ for her actions.
She has been suspended for 12 months from January 22. Following her suspension, she will have to practice under supervision.
In a statement, the psychologist said she respected the tribunal’s decision.
‘I made some questionable decisions and am totally accountable for them,’ she said.
‘I’ve worked very hard to become a better person over these past several years, and as a result a better therapist.’