Saturday, August 4, 2018

Grover’s Gripe

"She accused her psychologist of sexual misconduct. The board found her credible, but he still has a license to practice" by Felice J. Freyer Globe Staff  June 04, 2018

Lisa Grover needed help. Her marriage of 25 years had suddenly collapsed, and she felt shattered. She turned to Natick psychologist Melvin Rabin, whom she found online. Tall and athletic at 67, Rabin had a warm demeanor and an office wall covered in certificates. Grover, then 53, thought he could guide her to a safe place in her life.

Instead, over the next two years, according to Grover, Rabin walked her down a dark path that eventually led — she and state officials allege — to sex on the couch in his office, in apparent violation of state law and the ethics of the psychology profession.

Devastated by the experience, Grover reported Rabin to the state Board of Registration of Psychologists in February 2016. More than two years later, the case remains open. Rabin still holds an unrestricted license to practice psychology, continues to advertise his services, and recently appeared in an interview with a local news outlet.

The case remains unresolved.

The “MeToo” movement has shone a light on famous men who exploited their power over women’s careers. A therapist, who can acquire a roadmap to the patient’s most tender vulnerabilities, holds a power more private but arguably more profound. Therapist-patient sex is such a severe offense that in half the states — although not Massachusetts — it is a crime, usually a felony.

Lisa Grover, a mother of three who lived for 22 years in Marion, wants to tell her story to help other women, who often wrongly blame themselves when a therapist takes advantage of them.

Growing up in Germany, Grover had been sexually abused by her father, an experience she kept secret for decades. The pain of her divorce had opened the floodgates of her childhood trauma, and in 2013 she wanted to finally deal with it.

Today, at age 57, Grover lives in St. Petersburg, Fla., where she works part time as an occupational therapist. She is making progress with her new psychotherapist, travels back to Massachusetts often to visit her adult children, and practices meditation and yoga. She also volunteers with TELL, advising and supporting people abused by a therapist.

As for Rabin, who is 72, his license to practice will expire on June 30 unless he renews it. Grover speculates that he manipulated the board’s process to delay the loss of his license until he was ready to retire.

“It’s hard for me to understand,” Grover said, “how you can give that much power to the abuser.”


"Psychologist accused of sex with patient surrenders license" by Felice J. Freyer Globe Staff  June 08, 2018

Melvin Rabin, the Natick psychologist accused of having sex with a patient, has surrendered his license in a letter to regulators acknowledging that he put the patient “at risk of harm” and failed to maintain professional boundaries.

Rabin’s resignation was dated Tuesday, the day after the Globe reported on Lisa Grover’s allegations that Rabin violated therapist-patient boundaries, starting with phone calls and flirtatious e-mails and progressing to hugs and kisses and eventually sex on his office couch.

Sex between a psychotherapist and a patient is considered one of the most serious breaches of professional ethics, so serious that it is a crime in half the states, although not in Massachusetts.

In his letter, Rabin, who is 72, said he has stopped practicing, canceled his office lease, and terminated his clients. He also surrendered his New Jersey license and pledged that he will not attempt to renew or reinstate any license to practice in any jurisdiction.

The psychology board discussed Rabin’s case in a closed session at its monthly meeting Friday. After the board voted in open session, board chairman Robert Carey Jr. and executive director Erin LeBel declined to answer questions.

Massachusetts regulators did not speak with Grover until 11 months after she filed her complaint in February 2016. Grover had e-mails and voice mails from Rabin to back up some of her allegations.

In May 2017, the board issued an Order to Show Cause, indicating that it found Grover’s allegations had merit and that Rabin’s alleged actions constitute “gross misconduct” and violations of professional standards, but no further public action was taken until Friday’s vote to accept Rabin’s license surrender. During this time, Rabin had an unrestricted license and continued to see patients.

A spokeswoman for the state Division of Professional Licensure, which oversees the psychology board, said Friday that an investigation of Grover’s complaint had been completed by August 2016, recommending further action. After that, the board sought to meet with Rabin and met with repeated delays. There were “long discussions between the licensee’s attorney and the board,” she said.

The spokeswoman said the division takes complaints of professional misconduct seriously and in this case worked “diligently with all parties to resolve this complaint as expeditiously as possible.”

Jan Wohlberg, a founder of the online support network Therapy Exploitation Link Line, or TELL, said that disciplinary boards “bend over backwards to give due process to the professionals, but don’t extend the same courtesy to consumers.”

The psychology board had another, faster option. State law gives it the power to immediately suspend a psychologist’s license before holding a hearing “if the board finds that the health, safety, or welfare of the public warrants such summary action.”

With such a “summary suspension,” the board can prevent someone who might be dangerous from practicing while it investigates the allegations, but the psychology board has invoked that power only twice in the past three years. In contrast, the state Board of Registration in Medicine — which has the same power, described in statute using the same words — has issued 15 summary suspensions since the beginning of 2015.

Wohlberg said that psychology board members need more training in sexual misconduct. “They need to understand that this is serious stuff,” she said.

Although Rabin has no license, Massachusetts law permits unlicensed professionals to offer counseling..... 

Looks like he need some.