Complaint # 10.2

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ALBERTA COLLEGE OF SOCIAL WORKERS

NOTICE OF HEARING BY THE HEARING TRIBUNAL OF THE ALBERTA COLLEGE OF SOCIAL WORKERS PURSUANT TO S. 77 OF THE HEALTH PROFESSIONS ACT, R.S.A. 2000, c. H-7

CONSENT ORDER

AGREED STATEMENT OF FACTS

 

  1.  

A was a registered social worker with the Alberta College of Social Workers (“ACSW”) until the year 2008.

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"A" failed to register as a registered social worker with the ACSW for the year 2009.

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At all relevant times A was in a contract relationship with to provide professional services to employees.

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A provided counseling service to a client, N, during the period June to October 2009.  Specifically A undertook counseling services with N on June 30, July 6, July 30, August 9, August 15, August 21, September 24 and October 10, 2009.   Appropriate records were maintained with respect to these counseling sessions.

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In or about early January of 2010, N contacted A for the purposes of obtaining a further appointment with respect to ongoing personal issues.  An appointment was arranged for January 5, 2010.

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On January 5, 2010, A met with N for the purposes of providing professional social work services.  Subsequent to that counselling session, A made specific overtures to N as follows:

  1. that A asked N to a local restaurant and paid for the meal;
  2. that A drove N in his vehicle after dinner to refuel the vehicle and gave N a hug while she was in the car;
  3. that A subsequently texted N asking whether she was still interested in going out for a further dinner;
  4. that A offered to have his daughter provide pet sitting services to N if she wished to travel out of the city.

 

 

 

 

  1.  

N’s response to the overtures of A was to not have any further contact with him.

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N reports that the conduct of A occurred at a time which she would describe at her “lowest” and had a significant impact on her ongoing ability to function.  It caused her to be significantly distressed, and lose both time and benefits at her employment.

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A acknowledges that he had previously hugged N after a counselling session.

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A’s contract subsequently terminated on or about January 15, 2010.  This termination was as a result of his failure to register with the ACSW.

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A acknowledges that his conduct was inappropriate and occurred as a result of attempting to assist N when her Employee Assistance Benefits which may have ceased and the result of considering the client to be in similar circumstances as his daughter.

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A acknowledges he failed to register with the ACSW for the period 2009 when he was providing professional social work services.

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After A’s contract was terminated, he ceased practice as a social worker until such time as the matters with respect to this complaint were resolved with the College.  This in effect has resulted in A ceasing to practice social work for a period of approximately 9 months.

AGREED FINDINGS

 

  1.  

Boundaries

That A attempted to have a personal relationship with “N” and made overtures to her as follows:

  • that A asked to give “N” a hug after his second counselling session;
  • that A took “N” to a local restaurant on or about January 5, 2010 and paid for the meal;
  • that A drove “N” in his vehicle after dinner to re-fuel his vehicle and gave “N” a hug when she was in the car;
  • that A texted “N” asking “are you still interested in going out for a bite”; and,
  • that A offered to have his daughter provide pet-sitting services to “N” if she wished to travel.

 

Such conduct contravenes section 132 of the Standards of Practice and section 4 of the Code of Ethics and consequently such conduct constitutes unprofessional conduct.

  1.  

Failure to Register

That A failed to register with the ACSW for the period 2009 when he was providing professional social work services.

Such conduct contravenes sections 155 d and e of the Standards of Practice and section 4 of the Code of Ethics and consequently such conduct constitutes unprofessional conduct.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF RESPONSIBILITY

It is acknowledged by A and the ACSW that his conduct as described in the Agreed Statement of Facts constitutes unprofessional conduct.

NO RIGHT TO APPEAL

The ACSW and A agree that there shall be no appeal from this Order notwithstanding s. 87 of the Health Professions Act, R.S.A. 2000, c H‑7.

PROPOSED SUBMISSIONS AS TO SANCTIONS

The ACSW and A jointly submit that the appropriate sanctions in the circumstances of this matter are as follows:

 

  1. A reprimand
  2. That you submit to a wellness exam by a mental health practitioner (physician, psychologist or social worker approved by ACSW). The examination shall be your responsibility. Any records and a report prepared by the practitioner undertaking the examination shall be consented to be released to the ACSW. You will be required to complete any recommended counseling or therapy or treatment as required pursuant to the wellness exam. You will incur the cost of any treatment required.
  3. Upon recommencing the practice of Social Work you shall practice under the supervision of an individual outside of your employment or contract provision services. The supervision shall continue for a one year period. The cost of the supervision shall be your responsibility. The emphasis of this supervision shall be on your relationship with clients and issues of transference, in addition to any other issues the supervisor may deem appropriate. The individual providing supervision shall be approved by the ACSW. The terms of the supervision shall be agreed upon between yourself and your supervisor.
  4. You shall undertake further personal counseling by an individual approved by the ACSW for a minimum period of six months with attendance on at least a once monthly basis. The cost of this counseling shall be your responsibility. You shall consent to the release of any or all such records to the ACSW as required. The emphasis with respect to this counseling shall be on the issue of insight oriented counseling.
  5. You shall complete a course to be approved by the ACSW with respect to professional boundaries. This course is to be completed within one year of the date of this Order and the cost shall be your responsibility.
  6. You shall pay the costs for this matter in the amount of twenty five hundred ($2500.00) Dollars. This shall be paid within one year of this Order.
  7. There shall be a publication of this Consent Order on a no names basis.

 

REASONS FOR THE DECISIONS AS TO SANCTIONS;

 

  1. Members of the Hearing Tribunal took into consideration the fact that the member took responsibility for his actions. He demonstrated this by verbal admission to the matters presented before him and entering into a Consent Order. By acknowledging his inappropriate actions, a lengthy Hearing was avoided. If a Hearing was necessary then the member’s former client would have been called to testify. This would have presented great anguish and distress to the client.
  2. A Hearing is costly and can be time consuming. By accepting the Consent Order, the Hearing Tribunal acknowledges that the member has saved considerable amounts of time and dollars in legal costs which the Alberta College of Social Workers would have incurred. It also dispelled the inconvenience of time and travel to witnesses who would have been asked to attend the Hearing.
  3. The Member has had a successful career as a Social Worker. He has not had previous complaints or disciplinary matters presented to him. Apart from this unfortunate incident, it appears that the member has provided significant services in a variety of areas throughout his multiple years as a social worker.
  4. Premeditation in this matter was not established. It would be difficult to determine if the events were premeditated without an admission to such. Without evidence to determine premeditation, the Hearing Tribunal was in agreement to accept this fact.
  5. It appeared that the member had some personal difficulties, which led him to be involved in these events. The Hearing Tribunal had concerns about the member returning to work as a Social Worker without resolving his personal issues. We agreed that personal counseling is a necessity to help him understand and resolve the issues about his former marriage. Without proper direction, it is possible that a similar situation may occur. For the sake of the clients he serves and the member himself, we hope to avoid similar events from occurring. The Hearing Tribunal supports that a wellness exam by a qualified practitioner be completed and approved by ACSW before the member returns to his practice.
  6. The Hearing Tribunal regarded the member’s acceptance of these sanctions when we gave consideration to these matters.

 

Dated at the City of Edmonton, in the Province of Alberta, this 23rd day of September 2010

Hearing Tribunal of the Alberta College of Social Workers

Copyright 2010 Alberta College of Social Workers