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Capacity to Consent to Sexual Relations

26 April 2019

This document has been produced by the British Psychological Society’s Professional Practice Board’s Advisory Group on Mental Capacity.

It provides an overview of:

  1. The legal framework practitioner psychologists should be aware of and use when assessing a person’s mental capacity to consent to sexual relations.

  2. The issues and challenges that arise for clinicians when working with vulnerable people whose sexual functioning may be compromised because of an impairment of, or a disturbance in the functioning of, the mind or brain.

This document is not a definitive guide to all aspects of what is a difficult and continually evolving area of the law, and where there are complex professional and ethical issues.

However, illustrating some of the problems and sharing management approaches used in practice, the document will assist clinicians to ensure that there are adequate safeguards to protect vulnerable adults or people who lack the mental capacity to make decisions in this area, whilst not being unduly restrictive.


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