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Shocked Susan wrote:

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:

  • reported
  • 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?

Susan

  { Is there anything the diocese can do to stop this woman from practicing therapy in my parish? }

Eric replied:

Susan—

It certainly does not sound acceptable but whether it technically falls within the purview of a policy, I don't know; it depends on the policies of your diocese. If she has a license, I'm guessing she can practice, even if she didn't have a license before. There are only so many situations that policies can envision and guard against. Trying to prove that she has too cozy a relationship with the priest may be difficult to do legally.

Ask yourself the question:

  • Am I motivated purely by concern for the well-being of her future clients, or do I want revenge for the hurt she's inflicted on me?

Remember the Scriptures say,

Vengeance is mine, says the Lord; I will repay
(Romans 10:19, Hebrews 10:30, Deuteronomy 32:35)

Rest assured that this woman will get her comeuppance on Judgment Day, and so will the priest. They will have to answer to God for everything they have done (as we all must). There is no need for you to lose your peace about them. I suggest you focus first:

  • on praying for her and for the priest (and for her clients and potential clients), and
  • on forgiving them for their sins, because God will not forgive us if we do not forgive those who sin against us.

I sympathize with you; what she is doing is wrong and she needs to be removed, but fomenting hatred for her is not going to help your soul. You've done your part. Don't let her live rent-free in your mind.

Eric

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