Therapist fined for going to ‘exorcism’

The Chronicle (Centralia)August 5, 2013 

The state’s Examining Board of Psychology has placed Centralia psychologist Richard Kennedy on two years of supervised probation and fined him $3,000 for not maintaining appropriate boundaries with a patient by accompanying her to two abortions and an “exorcism” between October 2007 and November 2008, according to the state Department of Health.

Kennedy, who works at Evergreen Psychological Associates in Centralia, agreed to the order before a hearing scheduled in front of the examining board last week.

Kennedy began treating the patient in 1997 and continued to treat her through March 2011, according to the Health Department. Kennedy noted several diagnoses for the patient, including dissociative identity disorder, also known as multiple personality disorder, as well as complex post-traumatic stress disorder, major depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

According to charging documents:

Kennedy accompanied the patient to Planned Parenthood to have an abortion in October 2007.

The patient, a survivor of sexual trauma, asked Kennedy to accompany her to ensure her safety since she had experienced a dissociative episode during a previous abortion.

Kennedy again accompanied her to an abortion in November 2008.

Kennedy, along with two other mental health professionals, accompanied the patient to a ceremony at her church in January 2008, which the patient referred to as an exorcism for herself.

Case manager Tammy Kelley said she often sees boundaries being crossed, but has never seen a case involving an exorcism in her 13 years working for the state Health Department.

“Boundaries are something that are significantly important to any of the counseling professions,” Kelley said. “One of the things the board looks at is, do providers get vested into a client and then blur the boundaries? To this degree, this is a rather unique set of circumstances.”

The charging documents show Kennedy also violated appropriate boundaries by safekeeping the patient’s medications in 2006 and 2010 to protect her from suicidal episodes, transporting the patient to and from medical appointments, conducting treatment sessions at the patient’s residence, allowing the patient to sleep in a vacant room in his office building, making special weekend and late night appointments for the patient, going to Motel 6 where the patient was staying with her children and providing 90-minute eye movement desensitization and reprocessing sessions, but only billing the patient for half that time.

Kelley said Kennedy will be able to continue working during the two-year probation, but will be supervised by a psychology professional.

The supervision is important because many of the charges relate to Kennedy failing to consult with peers, charging documents said.

“Probation provides us with more oversight,” Kelley said. “He will be working with a supervisor that doesn’t have a prior relationship with him.”

Within six months, Kennedy will have to attend and complete a professional ethics program.

Kennedy received his credential to practice as a psychologist on July 18, 1995.

Repeated attempts to contact Kennedy at his office were unsuccessful.

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