Harassment and stalking towards mental health professionals by their patients constitute an important and increasingly discussed issue, but in Italy the scientific literature is almost absent. This study is the first in Italy specifically focused on the figure of the psychologist: it investigates the prevalence, nature and personal and professional impact of persecutory behaviour of patients against psychologists. As a method of inquiry has been set up an online questionnaire for psychologists registered with the Lombardy Psychologist Register (which includes almost 14,000 professionals), composed of 21 multiple-choice questions. A total of 396 professionals responded the questionnaire, and among them 52 (13%) experienced stalking. For these clinicians the questionnaire proceeds investigating the type of harassment received, the duration, the characteristics of the stalker, any psychiatric diagnosis, reasons, consequences and reactions that such events have had on personal and professional life of the victim. Stalking constitutes a little known and discussed issue for 49% of psychologists. Stalking by patients is, in fact, an issue that requires further study in order to organize training services that can allow the management of a potentially dangerous situation for both the patient and the clinician.
Keywords: Stalking, harassment, psychologists, victims, patients, criminology