Heath Aston January 22, 2012
A HYPNOTHERAPIST has been banned from practising for two years after using ''erotic techniques'' to treat a woman's smoking addiction then having sex with her.
Joe Levonian, of Balgowlah, was also ''reckless'' in giving two other women sexual massages as part of his personal research project into anorgasmia, as the inability to orgasm is termed.
The Health Care Complaints Commission found Mr Levonian ''displayed little appreciation of the importance in maintaining appropriate professional boundaries'' and would pose a risk to the public if allowed to continue unsupervised.
The commission received a complaint last May about Mr Levonian's erotic hypnotherapy from a woman who wanted to quit smoking.
In her evidence, the woman, identified as Client A, said that during a hypnosis session in his office Mr Levonian had placed his hand on her breast while repeating the words: ''You are getting more and more aroused.''
At their fifth session, Mr Levonian said she looked tense and needed a massage. The commission's report said: ''Client A stated that during the massage, when she was lying on her front with her eyes closed, the massage became sensual. When she turned over, she saw that Mr Levonian had started taking off his pants and they engaged in consensual sexual intercourse.''
Two days later, the pair met at a cafe where Client A said she was struggling emotionally. She said Mr Levonian had agreed to report himself to the Australian Hypnotherapists' Association.
''Mr Levonian told the commission he felt 'guilty', 'remorseful' and 'immediately knew he had done the wrong thing' and 'crossed the professional boundary' … Client A said she felt manipulated and violated by the event,'' the commissioner, Kieran Pehm, said in his decision.
In investigating her complaint, the commission became aware of Mr Levonian's research project into anorgasmia and contacted two women, cousins, who had agreed to take part, consenting to have their genitals, anuses and breasts touched by the hypnotist. One woman said she had left the treatment room and never returned once she became aware Mr Levonian had removed his pants and was leaning against her in silky boxer shorts. Mr Levonian claimed they were football shorts.
Mr Pehm said Mr Levonian had no approval to conduct research by any recognised body and the only basis for the research was ''his own personal interest''.
''Mr Levonian was, at the very least, reckless to proceed with his project without satisfying himself and others to its legitimacy,'' Mr Pehm found. ''What happened during Mr Levonian's session with Client B and C was highly sexual in content and it does not appear [he] could possibly have separated his own personal interests and remain detached while this was going on.''
Mr Levonian, who is training as a nurse, must not provide hypnotherapy, treat any sexual dysfunctions or conduct any research involving humans without the approval of a human research ethics committee for two years.
In a statement, Mr Levonian's solicitor, Claire Mallon said: ''At the time of the matters in question, Mr Levonian was suffering from severe reactive depression … He is extremely remorseful for his temporary errors of judgment.'