Psychologist diagnoses mental illness in woman he'd never met
Dr. Timothy Clark declared Angelique Giles mentally ill based on 3 emails and ex-partner's claims
A North Vancouver woman at the centre of a court battle with an ex-partner was unfairly diagnosed as mentally ill by a psychologist she had never met, the B.C. College of Psychologists has ruled.
Now Angelique Giles is calling for better oversight, discipline and punishment for psychologists who break the rules in B.C.
Giles's case started when her ex-partner presented the written opinion of veteran psychologist Timothy Clark in B.C. Supreme Court as part of legal proceedings.
The opinion stated that Giles was suffering from borderline personality disorder.
But a report by the inquiry committee of the College of Psychologists concluded that Clark had never met Giles let alone examined her. Clark's professional opinion, presented to the court, was based, in part, on three emails supplied by Giles's ex-partner.
To add insult to injury, the college says, Clark had also been her ex-partner's therapist.
Giles says the whole experience was "horrifying" and "devastating."
"He was his doctor. It's just shocking, like, are you kidding me?
"These misconceived ideas about who I was. What was I going to do?"
Giles says she was also accused of abusing alcohol and illegal drugs — none of which she says was true.
She complained to the college, which concluded that Clark's actions did not meet its code of conduct standards in that he offered the court a diagnosis "without any opinion or other direct contact with her" and that he "engaged in conflicting roles."
College reprimand 'a slap in the face'
Clark agreed to a written reprimand and to write a letter of apology, which turned out to be two sentences.
"I regret your experience. I did not intend to cause you any harm," were the only words Clark wrote in a letter to Giles.
"I think it's a slap in the face," Giles told CBC News. "Not much happened — got a letter, got a sentence. That's about all that happened."
In its report, the college wrote it would have expected a more extensive letter from Clark, but nonetheless found his conveyance of regret was sincere.
But Giles says the case proves there needs to be better provincial oversight of B.C. psychologists and greater accountability.
"The laws really do have to open up to the reality that if these doctors break the code of ethics, they need to be responsible for their actions," she told CBC News. "I don't want this to ever happen to anyone ever again."
Clark declined a CBC request for an interview. His lawyer, Nigel Trevethan, told CBC News the letter was written in the way it was because Giles had threatened to sue Dr. Clark.
- Story updated April 15, 2014 to include lawyer's comment.Apr 15, 2014 12:29 PM PT
With files from the CBC's Eric Rankin