Legal Resources

I highly recommend that anyone considering filing a complaint against their therapist—whether it’s a civil complaint, criminal complaint or licensing complaint—first consult with an attorney who specializes in handling therapist abuse cases. These complaints can significantly impact each other. For example, pursuing a licensing complaint or a criminal complaint can, under certain circumstances, have a negative effect on a patient’s ability to recover damages in a civil case. (For more information on this, please read John Winer’s article about therapist abuse and therapist malpractice cases. See below for the link.)

Since it can be difficult to find an attorney who specializes in therapist abuse cases, don’t feel discouraged if you can’t find one in your area. Broaden your search to include attorneys who specialize in clergy abuse, sexual abuse or date rape.

The attorneys listed on this page all handle therapist and/or clergy abuse cases. If you do not see an attorney listed for your state, call one of the people listed and ask if they can offer you a referral for someone in your area.

Many attorneys offer free consultation, so do not hesitate to call for information.

Legal Issues

Therapist Abuse and Therapist Malpractice Cases – articles by John Winer, partner at Winer, McKenna & Burritt, LLP

FAQ – Therapist Abuse Cases – John Winer
Click the Therapist Abuse tab to see a list of links.

Boundary Violations and Malpractice Litigation: Understanding Litigation from the Plaintiff’s Side – Stanley J. Spero, JD and Philip L. Cohen, JD
This article is available on the SJ Spero and Associates website (see below) and was published in Psychiatric Times Vol. 25 No. 4, April 1, 2008.

* * *

Lawyers who Specialize in Therapist and/or Clergy Abuse
or who have been recommended by readers

Audrey H. Bedolis, Esq.
Offices in New York

Law Offices of Betti & Associates
Offices in California, New York,  Illinois, Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Hawaii

Law Offices of Joseph C. George, Ph.D.
Offices in Sacramento and Los Angeles, California

Zachary Kemp – The Kemp Law Firm, PLLC
Offices in Michigan

Megan Lyons – Lyons Law
Offices in Florida
Although she does not specialize in therapist abuse, Megan is well versed in the study of narcissism and narcissistic abuse. She has also created an online course (available through the website) to help her clients both in and out of court cope with the emotional and psychological trauma that pathological narcissism manifests in the lives of target survivors.

Law Offices of S. J. Spero & Associates
Offices in Massachusetts
~ FAQ Page

John D. Winer – Winer, McKenna & Burritt, LLP
Offices in San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles, California

If you have a lawyer you would like to recommend, please comment or use the form on the Contact page to send me a private email.

* * *

Additional Resources

Victim Rights Law Center – serving Massachusetts
The Victim Rights Law Center is the first law center in the nation dedicated solely to advocating for the civil legal needs of sexual assault survivors.  The VRLC provides direct legal representation to victims of rape and sexual assault in Massachusetts. If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, we believe you have the right to make your own choices about how to respond to what has happened to you. Our goal is to give sexual assault victims information regarding their civil legal needs to reclaim their lives.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. My firm has represented victims of therapy abuse and clergy abuse since 1985. With Linda Jorgenson, my partner and now Of Counsel to my firm, we have published numerous articles, law reviews and have been cited in newspapers, journals, magazines and texts. On our home page, you can observe the numerous publications.

    I have worked with Advocate Web for close to a decade and sit on their Board of Directors. Attorneys Joseph George and John Winer have also been involved with Advocate Web

    If you are of the opinion that my office is compatible with the goals of your site, I would ask you to consider adding us to your site and link to our site.

    Thank you, Stan Spero

    • Hi Stan. Thanks so much for checking out the blog. I’ll be happy to add your information to my legal page. Please let me know if there are any publications, articles, or links you think would be particularly helpful to victims of therapy and clergy abuse. ~Kristi

    • I have a very informative article in psychiatric times. They did a special section with information from Tom Gutheil, Glen Gabbard , Celenza and myself as it relates to Boundary Crossings. It is indexed on my firm’s home page.

      Also in my FAQ section I have links to a lecture given by Gary Schoener. This is a video you can watch.

      • Thanks so much! I’ve added a link to your article “Boundary Violations and Malpractice Litigation” on my Legal page. (I assume that’s the article to which you’re referring?) I also have a link to the Gary Schoener video on my Websites and Links page.

  2. Hi Kristi,

    In my case, the therapist made it a point to beat me to the punch. She destroyed my credibilty. It has been a nightmare. I can’t tell you how violated I feel.
    The Board let her off the hook. My new therapist was shocked.

    • My therapist also destroyed my reputation. He was a drug and alcohol addict and HE ruined my life which was without any mark against me. Imagine that!! Therapists are manipulative cruel people at heart. The board is just a front pretending to protect innocent clients when all they do is protect therapists. They are all corrupt!! There is no justice!! I am still devastated by the treatment I received and am still being stalked by an unethical therapist. Police do not care unless there is physical harm.

  3. Dear Kristi:

    I recently learned about your site from a new client. I handle both sexual abuse cases that involve mental health professionals and clergy abuse cases. I have been developing informational sites and I have three that can be useful to your readers.

    The first is This site discusses various types of sexual abuse. The second is and the third is

    I would be happy to talk to you about my practice and the types of cases I am handling. I can be reached at 954.925.1630

    Thanks again for this excellent site.

    Sam Rogatinsky

  4. Hi

    Great sight. I had a very bad experience when I was studying Postural Integration. My trainer here in South Africa used her position to emotionally and psychologically abuse me, to the point where she locked me in her house and began screaming at me. When I asked to be let out she said that she would not allow me to qualify until I listerned to all that she wanted to say. When I took out my cell phone and called the police, she quickly unlocked and opened the door. I was in such a state of shock that I didn’t press charges. This kind of abuse continued repeatedly, and because I wanted my qualification I continued my studies.
    She took me on an emotional journey which left me in a state of fragmentation.
    It took me 3yrs to recover.

    She should never be allowed to practice!!!

    Here in South Africa there is no legal recourse.

    Do you think that because the main body of Postural Integration is in America, I might get satisfaction by addressing this through the American legal system.

    • Hi Dave,
      I’m so sorry to hear about the experience you had with your trainer! That’s really dreadful! You’re right — she should not be allowed to practice. I don’t know much about Postural Integration — are the trainers licensed or certified? It’s possible that if she has some kind of license or certification, you could file a complaint with the board or agency that issued it. I don’t know if any of the U.S. attorneys listed would have any suggestions for you, but you could try contacting some and see what they say.

  5. Hi,

    I am currently in the process of reporting my former therapist for numerous ethical breaches, along with the fact that she harassed and slandered me to the point that I had to get a lawyer to send a cease and desist. Her intern participated as well. The Board and CAMFT are currently investigating her. Do I need to wait for a judgment against her to proceed with legal action? Do I even have a case? She has 2 other implants with the Board, and is also facing a wrongful death suit from the family of another client.

    • The timing of different complaints can matter a lot. I strongly suggest you consult with an attorney who understands how the processes affect each other. Any of the attorneys listed on the page may be able to speak with you about that. Even if there isn’t someone who practices in your state, give one of them a call and they can perhaps guide and refer you.
      Good luck!

  6. Before my divorce we were seeing a marriage counselor… I was dealing with post partum on top of already existing depression. When I expressed my suicidal place the and wanting to get divorced the counselor told me “it would be better for your children if you were dead than if you guys got divorced” he went on to justify this saying that that is what studies have shown etc. I have tried to forgive and put it behind me… but now post divorce my ex is still going to him for input on his life and on our kids (he has primary custody thanks to ALL this) I feel they are constantly trying to trap me by making me sign documents etc. I am in waaaay over my head and need a good lawyer in Illinois to take care of this. I am tired of being the victim in all this and now want to fight for myself and my kids.

  7. Ravi XXXXXXX, M.D. of San Francisco was my therapist/psychiatrist for 1.5 years. Through email and in person, he has verbally abused me, and was constantly scornful and condescending to me. He called me things such as ugly, dumb, immature, arrogant, and a “4-year-old.” Those could not be further from the truth. He charged the full cost of a session for a phone call that was supposed to be free. He made me sick in bed for a whole week, sick with pain and emotional damage. He has made my chest hurt many times. I’ve cried often during my time in therapy with him, and before, I almost never cried. He blamed me, humiliated me, denied his wrongdoing, and made me the perpetrator instead. He used his doctor power to hurt and defeat me. He had greatly worsened my already-severe problems, and he created much more problems. Because of him, I’m broken, in agony, unemployed, and unable to find work. He is a monster. He also violated confidentiality by taking a year-long class, where he talked about me with the instructors and class attendees. He is truly a monster. Please do not see him.

    • Hi Broken,
      Thanks for your comment. I am so sorry for what you’ve suffered!
      I do want to let you know that we have a policy not to publish full names of the therapists on the site (unless legal/administrative action against them has been completed and they have been found in violation), so I’ve edited out the name of your therapist. Of course that doesn’t change what he put you through. I hope you have been able to find someone trustworthy to support you in your healing process!
      Wishing you the best,

  8. My neighbor is a pychcologist. He started coming over to me and we started a relationship where he offered me free therapy..with books and such. Then we were physically involved. Then he started asking me to do experiments for him . As in wanting me to seduce men..follow his complete orders and take pictures. He has caused me major trauma in my life. Do I have a civil case. I have emails where he outlines exactly what I should do with the men..He told me it would empower me..yea right

    • Hi,
      Thanks for sharing your experience. I am sorry to hear about what you have been through!

      You will need to contact an attorney to see if you have a civil case. You could try contacting someone on the Legal Resources page to see if they have a referral for you.

      Good luck!

  9. As someone who has been abused by a therapist and called both Joseph C. George and Winer, McKenna in California, I would not recommend either of them.

    At Winer, McKenna you will never actually get to speak with an attorney. Instead, you will be put on the phone with their assistant, who will take brief notes on your case and then consult with the attorney. Based on the notes she took, which in no way reflected what I actually experienced with the therapist (how can you distill over a year of emotional abuse into a 10 minute phone conversation?), they sent me back a form letter (email) saying they could not represent me, despite now having a therapist willing to advocate for me and speak to the abuse, misdiagnosis, and negligence I endured at the hands of my therapist. None of this mattered.

    Joseph George, who is also a therapist (I would not want to be his client), is probably one of the least compassionate people I have ever spoken to.

    It really comes down to money with these firms and if your potential case will not bring in big money or is too complicated, they are not interested.

    To say that this feels like a double exploitation is an understatement. So few attorneys even take these cases, and those that do, are extremely selective. At this point, the statute of limitations is about to run out and I have not been able to find single person willing to represent me. It’s a very hopeless/helpless feeling I would not wish upon anyone.

    • Hi Valerie,
      I’m sorry to hear that you did not have a positive experience with these attorneys. Joseph George handled my case, and I had a positive experience with him, so I’m not sure what to tell you about that. You could try Betti & Associates (I think they’re based in L.A.); the firm is run by a woman (Michele Betti) so you may have a different experience. I don’t know if they handle therapist abuse (they do clergy abuse and child abuse), but you can check — and also ask for a referral. You could also check in with Stan Spero or Samuel Rogatinsky, both listed on the resources page.

      Personally, I don’t believe it comes down to money–but more whether or not they think they can win, should the case go to a trial. You may want to ask them why they don’t want to take the case, so that you feel more informed about the situation.

      I’m sorry that it’s been such a challenge finding someone to represent you. It sounds very frustrating and discouraging and painful. I truly wish that things turn around for you!


      • Was your case with George a sexual abuse case? Was your case successful?

        Mine does not involve sexual abuse.

        I found him abrasive and totaling lacking in compassion. I did not like the way he spoke to me. He seemed to doubt that I was being truthful and treated me much like the image the therapist had portrayed of me, i.e. like a mentally ill person. After my most recent email to him, he did not even bother to respond.

        Winer, McKenna gave no real reason for not wanting to represent me. They sent a form email that said “after reviewing your case we have determined that we cannot represent you”. The review of my case consisted of brief notes taken by an assistant in a five minute phone call.

        I have yet to speak to an attorney who is willing to sit down and actually meet with me face to face.

        • Yea, my case involved sexual misconduct, among other things. We settled out of court through mediation rather than go to trial, which is generally the case, unless the victim really wants to go to trial.

          With attorneys, in my experience you have to kind of nag them. There’s not a lot of hand-holding or offering you non-essential information. If you’d like to know why those attorneys didn’t take your case you’ll need to be proactive and get back in touch to ask them directly.

          Have you checked into filing a complaint with the licensing board? Also, if he is a member of a professional board, like the APA, you may be able to file a complaint with them.

          You could also try another tactic, which is to see if there’s a journalist who’d be willing to write about your case. I know it doesn’t provide any legal satisfaction or compensation, but it’s a way of getting your story out there and taking this guy to task. Just a thought.

          Also, many health providers are listed on directories where patients/clients can post reviews. These are things that come up in Google searches. If you go this route, it’s important to speak specifically to what happened and not make generalizations. Again, this is a way of getting the word out about this guy but it won’t provide compensation for wrongdoing or pain and suffering.

          It’s important to consider what it is you really want, what you need, when you are taking action. What is it you want to get out of this? What do you want the outcome to be? Figure that out and then maybe you can think of other ways of getting the same result.

        • Valerie,
          I have encountered a horrific scenario. Perhaps it is similar to what you may have encountered. what might be similar to your situation. You are welcome to contact me. I will be unable to respond until the end of the month. In short, I sought counseling for horrific trauma, a spouse who tried to gruesomely kill me and got away with it because of corrupt law enforcement, who also abused me. The counselor’s abuse and everyone that followed made my spouse homicide attempt look like a walk in the park. We need change on a legislative level. The people that work in these positions and in government facilities are essentially immune. You cannot sue when they hold your records for five months and there is a 6 months statute of limitations. In my case I was brain damaged and I am now permanently disabled with no assistance at all.

          You may reach me at:

          I do not agree to be solicited by any entities for business services. DO NOT contact me to sell me anything, advertise or harass me.

  10. First, I did specifically ask Joseph George whether or not he was interested in taking my case, to which he chose not to respond. The first time I spoke with him, I felt hopeful. He seemed interested in my case and immediately sent me over client intake documents, suggesting he was willing to work with me. That was several months ago. At the time, I was still uncertain of whether or not I wanted to pursue litigation. I was scared and still very confused about what had happened to me.

    I eventually told him I didn’t wish to pursue litigation at that time because I felt pressured. Again, he seemed to have little empathy or understanding for the conflicted feelings a person feels about pursuing litigation in a case like this. Months later, after obtaining my file from the therapist and finally finding a reputable therapist wiling to advocate on my behalf, I contacted him again. I had to follow up several times to even get him to call me back. Despite having even more evidence, including majority of emails exchanged between us, he seemed less than enthused about my case, which I still find difficult to understand. My changing my mind the first time, seemed to have thrown doubt on my story or my ability to be a reliable client in his eyes. I had the exact same experience with Winer, McKenna. The first time I called, the intake person spoke to me for much longer and seemed concerened about my case. But before she could consult with the attorney, I called back saying I wasn’t willing to pursue litigation at this time. The second time around, she spoke to me very briefly, and then simply sent the form email telling me they could not represent me. I also wrote back to her and received no reply. Again, it was as if changing my mind had somehow discredited me in their mind. I think it’s understandable why a person might feel conflicted or even change their mind, given the circumstances.

    As for reviews, I did leave them, both on Google and on Yelp. These were of course printed and made a part of my file by the therapist and her supervisor (yes, my therapist is a SHE, not a he, which may also be why these lawyers seemed to doubt my story). As for the reviews I left, I took them down within a week of writing them, fearing legal retaliation from the therapist. She has already proven to me that she is extremely vindictive and willing to stop at nothing to protect and defend her own reputation while going out of her way to ruin mine. Suing me for libel or defamation did not seem out of the realm of possibilities.

    My intention with taking legal action is to recover damages for what I suffered (at the least to recover the cost of therapy since what I experienced was in no way therapeutic but completely traumatic), and also to show this woman that she is not the untouchable god she believes herself to be. I already know, having read my file that she has retained a lawyer through her professional association and a so-called expert willing to endorse her diagnosis of me based solely on the therapists version of events, her notes, and emails, having never once met me before. I understand that it was her intention that I should read this in my file and become scared out of speaking up. Rather than scared, having read the many inaccuracies and outright fabrications in my file, I feel further emboldened to speak up and take action against her. But you cannot file a civil case for malpractice without a lawyer willing to represent you. I have called dozens, and none will touch the case.

    And yes, I plan to file a licensing board complaint, which this woman has arrogantly encouraged me to file, believing she blameless and untouchable. That’s not the reaction of a normal therapist, especially an intern who is not yet licensed. While I have been waiting to find a lawyer, she has since become licensed, which is horrifying to consider. Someone like this has absolutely no business working with vulnerable people.

  11. Same story with me. These attorneys appear to be looking for extremely easy to win cases, probably 1% of what they are presented with. One of them (who posts on this site) sent me a form that looked like it was designed to vet a candidate for high public office. I felt as if his form was first trying to figure out what could be used against me by the other side, treating me as the bad guy. I have a very clean background, but apparently something was wrong and he didn’t even want to be presented with the evidence or meet me in person to discuss.

    • I’m truly sorry this has happened to you too. Last week I finally found a lawyer willing to meet with me. It too sounded hopeful, since he was the first to offer an in person meeting. He even spoke to my current therapist over the phone, who assured him that the former therapist had committed malpractice and emotionally abused me during therapy. He reviewed my full file and after all was said and done, also declined my case.

      There is no other word for the way it feels to be repeatedly treated this way besides devastating. Like all the rest, he simply sent me back a form email saying “after reviewing your case, I have determined. I cannot represent you”. No more specific information is ever given by a single one of these attorneys.

      To the author of the original post – forgive me, but I do think it is incredibly naive to suggest that these decisions do not come down to money. In cases where there was no sexual abuse but as in my case, misdiagnosis, unethical and inappropriate behavior, and emotional abuse, no lawyer is willing to touch you. Lawyers are not in the business of compassion. They are in the business of winning cases and settlements. None of this about doing what is right or just for those who have been abused.

      What is sickening is the amount of resources available to therapists when confronted with a lawsuit or ethics complaint. They all have at their disposal any number of expert witnesses and legal counsel to choose from in order to protect themselves. While you, as a client, must wade through more trauma and lack of validation from both the legal system and psychotherapy industry, in order to simply be heard. Though they say they are, the laws are truly not set up to protect consumers. They are set up to protect fellow therapists.

      • Hi Valerie,
        I’m so sorry to hear about your latest experience! What a huge disappointment!
        It’s true that I had a very different experience, so whatever I write comes from that point of view. As I said in my previous comment, it’s my personal opinion that it comes down to whether the attorney thinks they can WIN, whether they think it makes sense for them to take the case, because they’re not going to take a case they don’t think they can win. And yes, the result of winning is money. No, sadly, it’s not about compassion. It’s a business decision.

        I still invite you to not just accept the form letter these folks are sending you, but to follow up with a phone call — maybe as many phone calls as it takes for you to get an adequate answer to why they’re not taking your case. It may not fix anything, but at least it might provide an explanation. I can also understand if you don’t want to even deal with any of this anymore. Sometimes moving on and focusing on one’s own life is the best path to healing.

        Whatever happens, I wish for the best for you!
        Take good care of yourself!

        • Well, his decision at least made slightly more sense (but not really) given that he had actually taken the time to review the notes and even speak with my therapist. The other rejections have all been made without ever reviewing my file, and in some cases, ever speaking to me directly i.e. they were just email inquiries.

          You can ask a direct question, but you will not get a direct answer from a lawyer. Especially one who is choosing not to represent you. Nor do they feel they owe you anything. Such a bizarrely violating feeling to know that this man reviewed my very personal therapeutic notes and even personal emails and in the end, did so for no good reason.

          I asked for my file back and will be picking it up today. How humiliating. All the lawyer could say was “sorry I can’t help you”. And with that, I am now done searching for lawyers. I can’t take the “no’s” anymore or people asking to look into my personal history with no intention of actually helping me.

          My only choice now is to file a formal complaint and speak on my own behalf.

          • Valerie,
            I have encountered a horrific scenario. Perhaps it is similar to what you may have encountered. what might be similar to your situation. You are welcome to contact me. I will be unable to respond until the end of the month. In short, I sought counseling for horrific trauma, a spouse who tried to gruesomely kill me and got away with it because of corrupt law enforcement, who also abused me. The counselor’s abuse and everyone that followed made my spouse homicide attempt look like a walk in the park. We need change on a legislative level. The people that work in these positions and in government facilities are essentially immune. You cannot sue when they hold your records for five months and there is a 6 months statute of limitations. In my case I was brain damaged and I am now permanently disabled with no assistance at all.

            You may reach me at:

            I do not agree to be solicited by any entities for business services. DO NOT contact me to sell me anything, advertise or harass me.

  12. I dealt with John Winer in 1988 along with Dr Peter Rutter who’s first book was Sex In The Forbidden Zone. This was the beginning of a wonderful yet arduous journey. I recieved the much needed support and a wonderful network of friends as well as professionals when I had no where else to turn.
    How far we have come. I am beyond ecstatic to see the availability and help as well as the networking we have at our fingertips.
    Thank you one and all. I couldn’t have made it with out you.

  13. I am a liberal in Texas, which is hard enough, but Monday at my group meeting the therapist not only called my political beliefs into question, but started harassing me, getting visibly upset and telling me I’m going to prison simply for my beliefs. I am on probation and have to attend his classes as part of my treatment, but I don’t think what he’s doing is ethically correct or legal, however I’m worried if I pursue any legal action (which I can’t afford) he may seek to have my probation revoked and I will be thrown in prison. I don’t know what to do.

  14. Hi Candance. It isn’t always easy to find an attorney for a civil suit. However, you can start by googling personal injury attorneys in New Mexico. When contacting a personal injury attorney, just ask if they handle personal injury/malpractice case for bad therapy. If the attorney you contacted doesn’t handle mental health malpractice/personal injury cases, ask if they know of an attorney who does for a referral. You also will want to ask them for advice on if you file a civil suit would that impact reporting to the medical board any misconduct.

    Best of wishes to you.

  15. I’ve searched all over the Internet, and I’ve yet to see a case regarding a therapist in an individual setting that doesn’t involve sex. I have a situation where a therapist with whom I’d had a long association became very hostile and angry because I questioned a fee matter. To make a long story short, she was verbally and emotionally abusive for all of one session and part of another (I went back after the first incident because I was in a very bad place emotionally and needed help). After the second incident, and in an effort to try to put things back on track, I contacted her in writing on several occasions telling her I’d be glad to come in to talk if she would only agree not to become angry. While that seems the very least that a client should expect from a therapist, she would never agree, and finally I terminated the relationship in writing.

    While not as devastating as sexual abuse, the incident has left me feeling very bad about myself (why would a therapist who had been very helpful to me for three years suddenly treat me that way unless she had come to truly detest me? And her actions reinforced my feelings of rejection by other people and validated my fear of trusting people). Also I feel very abandoned and hopeless. And that doesn’t even address the reasons I had been going to therapy in the first place!

    After this experience I’m unwilling to try therapy again–first, because I no longer trust therapists and the therapy process, and second because it would take many months with a new therapist (and $1000’s of dollars in fees) to reach a point with a new therapist where I could disclose enough about my life–and build up enough trust–that therapy would even begin to be helpful. As I’ve jokingly told my family, I’ll first need to find a therapist who can help me overcome my fear of therapists!

    I complained to the State Licensing Board, and they sent me a letter several months later saying “the case has been closed.” They won’t say whether it’s because they don’t think my complaint is worthy, whether it just doesn’t rise to the level of revoking her license (to which I’d probably agree), whether she was reprimanded, what she may have said about me, etc. The AAMFT code of ethics is no help, and she discontinued her membership in the ACA.

    So my question is, is there no recourse for a client who’s been emotionally damaged by a therapist that doesn’t involve sexual misconduct?

  16. Hi Robert,

    I totally understand your dilemma. It is much more difficult to “prove” psychological abuse for a civil case and as you noted, there isn’t a criminal law that I know of for emotional and psychological abuse by a therapist. You may try to consult with a personal injury attorney in your state to see what constitutes a “cause of action” for a civil case. You can ask the attorney if they provide an initial consultation for free or what fee they may charge to review your case.

    You may have another route to file a complaint or grievance regarding your therapist. Have you checked your state’s department of human services or state agency that ensures treatment or patient’s rights? Most state’s have a complaint/grievance procedure for looking at quality issues for client’s receiving mental health treatment. These procedures vary by state and they may or may not oversight an individual therapist in private practice. You wouldn’t recover any financial or penalty damages, but the oversight agency may be able to take some corrective measures to ensure that you are heard in your complaint and that the therapist be corrected if they find some merit to your complaint/grievance.

    Also, you may receive some direction from your state’s Protection and Advocacy Organization. They may know if there is what is called a patient’s or treatment rights procedure in your state and how you can file one. To look up your state’s Protection and Advocacy Organization, follow the link below. On upper right side of the website you will see a map of the country. Click on your state to find the contact information.

    You may also ask the Protection and Advocacy Organization regarding how your case was handled by the licensing board in your state. It would be nice to at least know why the case was closed such as it didn’t have merit. If anything, they may be able to provide you with information on any “Open Records Request” or “Freedom of Information Act” letter you might be able to write to obtain more information on why your case was closed.

    I hope this is helpful information for you.


  17. My therapist told me to stop seeing her six weeks before I kill myself. She said, “Do you know what that would do to my career?” And “Waiting six weeks would remove the leverage.” I recorded my most recent session and I have her on recording admitting to saying these things (and even repeating them). I have also asked her several times to refrain from talking about her personal life and she tells me that she “cannot” do that. Should I file a formal complaint with her licensing board? Will they do anything? I am scared and I feel like she just wants me to die. She said if I quit therapy altogether, she will have me court ordered to a hospital. I have Borderline Personality Disorder, so she knows that leaving relationships is very difficult for me. She knows that I am more likely to keep seeing her for therapy rather than risking an involuntary hospitalization or seeing someone completely new. She says little things sometimes like, “I took you back when you moved back from Utah.” And that makes me feel like no one else will want me. I am worried she will try to discredit me because I have also been diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder and Dissociative Identity Disorder. I feel so very lost on what to do.

    • Hi Zoey,

      This is a very serious situation. This therapist is blackmailing you into staying on with her when what you need most is to leave and find a new therapist. I cannot legally advise you what to do but can only make suggestions. I’m hoping some others may have suggestions as well. Right now, I strongly encourage you to get whatever support you can. That could include a new therapist (if you can find someone else before you leave her, that would be ideal), a support group, a lawyer and family/friends. You could also get in touch with an email responder at TELL www, to see if they can offer support and suggestions.

      You may want to contact her licensing board anonymously and describe the situation and see what they say.

      I understand your fear and concern so I recommend gathering as much support as you can to help you leave her safely.

      All the best,

    • I want to add a comment about filing a complaint with a state licensing board. I don’t want to discourage anyone from doing so if you have a basis … but in GA at least, the process is virtually worthless.

      When you file a complaint against a therapist with the state licensing board in GA, here is the procedure. You file a complaint. I’m in a profession that demands very good writing skills, so I’m confident my complaint was cogent, understandable, and well written. Supposedly, the complaint is reviewed. But from there the complainant is locked out of the process.

      Some weeks after filing my complaint, I received a letter from the licensing board saying the “case is closed.” I don’t know what that means, and I have no way to find out. It could mean any of the following:

      1. They read my complaint and did nothing with it. In general, this could be because a complaint wasn’t well written or omitted important information, because the board didn’t thoroughly read and understand the complaint, or because the complaint—even if taken in the light most favorable to the complainant—simply doesn’t state a claim over which the licensing board can act. If this was the outcome, I’ll never know which of these three possibilities was the case.

      2. They read my complaint, contacted the therapist to get her side of the story, believed her, and did nothing further. If this was the case, I’ll never know what the therapist may have said about me to the board, or whether it was truthful.

      3. They read my complaint, investigated, heard the therapist’s side, decided she should be given a warning or reprimand, did so, and regard the outcome as somehow confidential.

      The procedure seems heavily weighted against the complainant. The complainant does not know whether or not the state licensing board ever pursued the claim. If so, the complainant gets no opportunity to review the therapist’s response, much less submit any rebuttal evidence. And the complainant is never even allowed to learn what action—if any—was taken against the therapist.

      This procedure badly needs to be changed. If an ethics complaint is filed against a lawyer in GA, I can assure you it’s taken a lot more seriously than a complaint against a therapist seems to be. The present system seems to be one of the licensing board taking care of its own … conducted in secrecy and, very possibly, without even conducting a full and impartial investigation.

      Unfortunately, that seems to leave litigation as the only alternative. The complainant is faced with possible massive legal bills, while the therapist will be represented by their malpractice carrier. I frankly would be concerned that in the course of suing my therapist, information that I told the therapist in confidence would become public. And frankly, many times litigation is overkill. If I felt that the state licensing board had taken my complaint seriously, I would never even consider litigation as an option.

      One final thing. From my research, it seems that the vast majority of cases in which a therapist is punished are those in which a male therapist takes sexual advantage of a female client. Maybe these are just the most newsworthy cases and thus get a disproportionate amount of publicity. But I’ve found very few cases in which a therapist who inflicts emotional harm on a client by unethical or unprofessional conduct is ever disciplined. Does that give female therapists a free ride? I don’t know.

  18. I just want to express my support and empathy to anyone going through the aftermath of therapist abuse. I know from my own experience that there are few real advocates out there and that the road ahead after such abuse seems very dark and dead end to many of us whose abuse cannot be so easily “proven” from a legal standpoint because it was psychological, verbal, and/or emotional. But the effects are as long lasting as any sexual or physical abuse.

    I have left a lengthy comment about my experience with not only the legal system, but the re-traumatizers who masquerade as advocates out there (and unfortunately there are many): I hope it will keep others from making the same mistakes I have.

    Because of my experience, I never filed a formal complaint or lawsuit. I wanted to file both but discovered without real the professional advocacy of others, we are too often not believed or given the chance to be heard. I have had more than enough of being traumatized by the mental health industry. In a profession where one would expect large amounts of empathy and compassion, there is more often than not, little to none to be found.

    My advice to all survivors is to educate yourself about trauma in every possible, to do lots of self inquiry into your own life and past, do the inner work to rebuild your sense of self, and surround yourself with genuine, supportive people who will love you, if you are so lucky.

    I wish all of you the healing you deserve. Please never let the unconscionable actions of others steal your joy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *