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Resource Document on Stalking, Intrusive Behaviors and Related Phenomena by Patients

Approved by the Joint Reference Committee, October 2019

  • 2019

The doctor-patient relationship should ideally be a collaborative and mutually respectful one. In some instances, however, patients may engage in behaviors that can engender concern and even fear in the psychiatrist involved. When these behaviors are repeated, unwanted, and distressing, we might colloquially refer to them as “stalking.” In the midst of a stalking episode, it may be difficult for the psychiatrist to know how to proceed, what steps to consider to protect oneself and what choices to consider to manage the patient-physician relationship. In this document we provide practical guidance for psychiatrists who may face these situations in the course of their work with patients. It was drafted via the consensus of individuals whose practices intersect at the interface of law and psychiatry and represents a range of voices and recommendations. It provides general guidance and is not considered dispositive for any particular response to specific situations. Individual circumstances may require courses of action that differ from those noted in this document.

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