Hi, guys —
Through the recommendations of my parish priest, I saw a member of my parish for counseling services. She had an office at my church and advertised her services as a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) in the weekly parish bulletin.
In the seven years I attended this church, I noticed her ad for compassionate, confidential therapy was posted there every week with the letters MFT after her name. I was very unimpressed with her approach as a therapist and only saw her once. Later I learned, from talking with other members of my parish, that others were not happy with her services either. I contacted the state Board of Examiners in Marriage and Family Therapy to check her credentials.
To my shock, I was informed that this person never held a license to practice therapy in the state. I then called the licensing board in the state where this person is from. Her MFT license had expired in 2009 and I saw her in 2011.
In this profession as in many others, a license to practice must be renewed every two years. If you move out of state, you must apply for a new license to practice in your new state of residence. That entails taking the required tests and paying a fee. For some reason, she didn't bother to do so and bilked the members of the parish out of thousands of dollars over the years. It is a violation of state law to advertise yourself as a Marriage and Family Therapist or practice therapy in any capacity without an up-to-date license. That is malpractice, larceny by false pretenses, and fraud. She only stopped perpetrating her fraud after she was:
- ordered by the licensing board to Cease and Desist, and
- fined the maximum 1,000 dollars.
As one therapist I spoke with said, she should have been prosecuted by the State Attorney for her crimes and for the damage she did to the professional title of Marriage and Family Therapist.
I was later accosted by this woman and her husband and saw, up close, what a truly disturbed and mentally unbalanced person she was. She screamed at me in my face, and her husband hurled vulgarities at me while brandishing a large stick. She also wrote a series of vicious letters to her son about me. Her son confided in me that she violently abused him as a child and had no business being a therapist. I saw the unhinged, nasty old woman behind the kindly Catholic therapist facade which she used to hoodwink people to trust her and seek her help.
It didn't matter that I contacted the parish priest who allowed her to work in in the church. He ignored me. I had long noticed that this priest had a much too close relationship with this woman. They spent too much time together even though she is married and seemed mutually infatuated with each other. This year, I discovered, to my horror, that this woman acquired her MFT license in my state and is now, thanks to the same parish priest, back at the same church practicing therapy! I called the diocese and spoke with one of their legal representatives about it but it looks like nothing is going to be done. My questions are:
- Is this acceptable and in keeping with church policy?
- Is there really nothing the diocese can do to stop this woman from practicing therapy in a parish church?