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Lil'Pon February 2nd, 2007 03:02 PM

Ethics of practice after drug conviction?
There was a situation many years ago in which a Social Worker practicing as a psychotherapist in Michigan was sentenced for manufacture/delivery of a controlled substance and paid a $500.00 fine for such. Not sure if it was considered a mis demanor or a felony. I believe the person in question, since it was a first time offense, was sentenced to probation. Two years after the sentence, the social worker was still counseling clients as a psychotherapist under the umbrella of his wife’s practice, who was a CSW in that state. Was (is) it legal, or ethical, in that (or other) state(s), for a first time offender, to continue to counsel clients? Or would a therapist temporarily or permanently lose license to practice due to the situation?

William Reid August 6th, 2007 10:22 AM

Re: Ethics of practice after drug conviction?
Licensing agencies and rules vary by state and situation. It's generally impossible to know all the relevant facts without an investigation, and such an investigation should be carried out by an entity with the experience, objectivity, and authority to do so.

The public, professional ethics, and the person himself are well-served by determining the facts of the situation. If you reasonably suspect that he is practicing illegally, unsafely, or while impaired, it is important to report him to the appropriate state agency (not just a professional association, unless it has a strong impaired clinician component and state agency support). Reporting is not a bad thing to do under such circumstances, but the right thing to do for patients, the profession, and the person's own welfare.

We all know good clinicians who have gotten into trouble or been impaired, but who work with their licensing agency, take responsibility for their actions, get into rehab in earnest, succeed in a carefully monitored practice, and go on from there. It seems important to know whether or not this person has done all this and, if not, to report his actions so that they can be properly addressed.

And just an aside: Based solely on your description, does anyone really believe this was a "first offense"? Or was it merely perhaps the first time he'd gotten caught. Your words ("manufacture" and "delivery") suggest something more serious than sharing a lid or doing lines at a party (which are pretty serious in themselves).

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