Case Studies: Counselors

Genetic Counselor Preserves Certification Against Credentials Fraud Charges

The American Board of Genetic Counseling issued disciplinary charges against the certification of a genetic counselor practicing in two states requiring licensure. The genetic counselor held licenses in both states. Disciplinary officials in those states deferred to the American Board's disciplinary proceedings because of the counselor's dual-state practice and the nature of the charges. The charges alleged that the genetic counselor's education included course credits from an online educational provider that had closed after allegations of the sale of fraudulent credentials. The genetic counselor retained the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team to answer the American Board's charges and ensure that the genetic counselor also retained the two state licenses. The Team learned that the American Board had issued the charges because of the client counselor's educational credentials from the online program, not because anyone or any evidence had specifically implicated the counselor in credentials fraud. The Team helped the client-counselor recover documentation that the counselor had, in fact, completed the disputed program's online coursework, meeting academic standards, when the program was still accredited. The Team's response to the American Board's charges presented the client counselor's evidence, on the basis of which the Board dismissed the charges without further proceedings. Neither state licensing board took any disciplinary action, enabling the client-counselor to continue genetic counseling in both states without negative impact.

Marriage and Family Therapist Defends Disciplinary Charges Alleging Unauthorized Disclosures

The professional counseling licensing board for a Central Atlantic state notified a licensed marriage and family therapist of disciplinary charges. The charges alleged that the therapist had disclosed confidential patient information to relatives and acquaintances of a therapy patient without the patient's authorization. The charges further alleged that the disclosure had harmed the patient and adversely affected the patient's reputation and relationships. The marriage and family therapist retained the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team to investigate and answer the charges. The client therapist's records confirmed that the patient had requested and consented to the therapist's counseling session with both the patient and certain relatives and household care providers in attendance. The Defense Team retained a private investigator to obtain attested statements from the relatives and household care providers to present to the licensing Board, corroborating the client therapist's counseling records. The Defense Team presented the records and documentation to the licensing Board at a pre-hearing conference that the complaining therapy patient's liability attorney also attended. The disclosure of the corroborating records and attested statements, including the client therapist's affidavit, directly contradicted the accounts of the complaining patient, who had no other evidence. After the liability attorney conferred with the complaining patient, the patient withdrew the complaint. The Board then dismissed the complaint. The client-therapist received no liability demand and faced no further issues, preserving the therapist's practice and reputation.

Mental Health Counselor Avoids Discipline for Allegedly Failing to Report Threats

The professional counseling licensing Board for a Southern Border state issued a notice of disciplinary charges against a licensed mental health counselor. The charges also triggered a National Board for Certified Counselors proceeding against the counselor's national certification. The charges alleged that the mental health counselor had failed to record and promptly report threats that a patient had allegedly made against the patient's ex-spouse during a counseling session, after which the patient had seriously injured the ex-spouse in an assault and battery. The counselor had been treating the patient for anger management and other issues related to the patient's separation, divorce, and child custody dispute. In the criminal proceeding against the patient for the assault and battery, the patient had admitted expressing threats to the counselor that he was about to attack and seriously injure or kill the ex-spouse. The ex-spouse had learned of the patient attacker's admissions. The ex-spouse used them to initiate the disciplinary complaint preparatory to a liability claim against the counselor. The counselor retained the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team to defend the disciplinary charges and head off the liability claim. The Team invoked a disciplinary hearing to prove that the patient had fabricated the threat allegations to shift blame from the patient to the counselor in defense of the criminal charges. The patient failed to appear at the disciplinary hearing, invoking privileges against self-incrimination in the pending criminal proceeding. The licensing Board accordingly dismissed the charges based on the counselor's truthful testimony and accurate records showing no threat and no duty to disclose. The National Board followed suit, leaving the counselor with a clear disciplinary record at the state and national levels.

Substance Abuse Counselor Successfully Defends Undue Personal Gain Charges

An assistant attorney general, acting for the professional licensing division of a populous Central Atlantic state, served disciplinary charges on a licensed substance abuse counselor. The charges alleged that the counselor had entered into an inappropriate non-sexual relationship with a patient for personal interest and gain. The charges arose out of the patient's sale of a used boat to the counselor after the counselor learned in small talk around a counseling session that the patient was interested in selling the boat. After the counselor had bought the boat from the patient, the patient's alleged co-owner of the boat disputed the sale with the counselor. When the counselor wouldn't agree to pay the alleged co-owner additional monies to settle the dispute, the co-owner complained to the licensing division with the patient's tacit support. The counselor retained the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team when the counselor's employer threatened to suspend the counselor while the licensing division resolved the charges. The Team reassured the employer of the counselor's vigorous defense, preserving the employment. The Team further showed the assistant attorney general that the patient had publicly listed the boat for sale at the price the counselor paid before the counselor had expressed any interest, proving an arm's length, fair-market sale. The licensing division dismissed the charges on that basis.


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