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Keywords

clinical nurse specialist, dangerous behavior, safety

 

Authors

  1. LASKOWSKI, CHERYL DNS, RN, CS

Abstract

This article applies theoretical perspectives of client stalking behavior to vignettes of clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) who have experienced stalking incidents. A description of stalking behavior, estimations of the frequency of stalking behavior, characteristics of stalkers, and the impact of stalking on victims are addressed. Health care professionals, including CNSs, may inadvertently become victims of stalking behavior. Firm and clear boundary setting is important in all CNS-client relationships. CNSs who believe that they are becoming the objects of attention for particular individuals are advised to convey a clear message that they have no interest in the development of such a relationship. In this article CNS responses to actual client stalking behavior, including confrontation by the CNS, police involvement, restraining orders, and use of the CNS's attorney, are explored. The use of clinical consultation and the need for agencies to develop safety plans for all employees are also addressed.

 

This article applies theoretical perspectives of client stalking behavior to vignettes of clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) who have experienced stalking incidents. Treatment strategies and systems responses for people who are targets of stalking behavior are also identified.

 

The author's interest in this topic arose as a result of her 17 years of practice as a mental health CNS. The clinical vignettes are composites drawn from the author's psychotherapy and clinical consultation practice and from a previous research study done on mental health CNSs' interpretations of "difficult" client behavior.1 Identifying information relating to these vignettes has been changed so as to protect the anonymity of those involved.

 

The author proposes that the stalking of clinicians by clients is an important topic for CNSs, as these providers work in areas where stalking behavior has been occurring with increasing frequency (ie, health-related settings). In addition, as part of their work with survivors of domestic violence, many CNSs may be working with clients who have been (or are currently being) stalked. Appropriate responses to stalking behavior are needed, as the behavior itself can be quickly and unintentionally reinforced by well-meaning providers.