New Brunswick

Fredericton psychologist suspended for professional misconduct

Joan Wright has been suspended by the College of Psychologists of New Brunswick for professional misconduct, incompetence and violating the boundaries of the psychologist-client relationship, according to a recent decision by the college.

Joan Wright is challenging finding she violated boundaries of psychologist-client relationship

Joan Wright has been suspended by the College of Psychologists of New Brunswick. (Photo: Jeff Crawford)

Joan Wright, a well-known psychologist in Fredericton, has been suspended by the College of Psychologists of New Brunswick for professional misconduct, incompetence and violating the boundaries of the psychologist-client relationship, according to a recent decision by the college.

Wright is disputing the decision.  

Wright is a senior psychologist and owner of MindShift Clinic in Lincoln and Joan Wright & Associates in downtown Fredericton, where nine other therapists work, according to her LinkedIn page. 

In its decision released Friday, the college's hearing committee ordered the immediate suspension of Wright's registration and said she was "prohibited from engaging in the practice of psychology while her registration is suspended."

Wright has also been ordered to pay a $2,000 fine before the suspension is lifted and $134,510.63 to the college within a year for costs related to the complaint. 

Wright's lawyer, Kelly Lamrock, said he will file an application for judicial review, which will challenge the college's decision, and will also request an injunction to stop the suspension until the review can take place. 

"I think as the court documents come out, it will be clear they've reached some conclusions the facts cannot support, and they've followed a process that is unreasonable in law," Lamrock said.

Lamrock said he will file with the court Tuesday morning. 

Hearings of the complaint against Wright took place over several days last September. 

The decision outlined a list of several failings on Wright's part, including "using experimental and non-evidence-based interventions" without presenting the risks or benefits of the treatment to her client. 

The decision also said that Wright "failed to use evidence-based treatments" for post-traumatic stress disorder in treating her client and did use experimental techniques without the informed consent of the client. It also said Wright administered therapy she was not trained to provide. 

Wright was also found to have "failed to provide the client with a copy of the clinical file when requested" and "to keep adequate records and notes of her sessions with the client."

More specific transgressions cited by the board include asking her client to "remove articles of clothing in order to take photographs of the Client's naked body parts without the Client's informed consent, touching various parts of the Client's body, including massaging the Client's neck and asking the Client to get into various positions such as bending over on a ball."

Wright also "showed a gross lack of judgment" by requesting the client purchase and use an "anal device at home."

Wright "had no expertise to recommend such a device —the device being outside her scope of practice as a psychologist," the decision said.

Wright was also found to have committed boundary violations by borrowing a sleeping bag from the client, soliciting the client to participate in a promotional video, and eating a "cannabis-laced" cookie given to her by the client, even though it was illegal at the time. 

The college didn't give a specific duration of the suspension but said Wright would have to do several things to qualify for  a conditional registration.

She would have to complete and pass post-secondary-level educational courses on cognitive behavioural therapy for the treatment of PTSD, on the ethics in psychological treatment of clients, and on psychometrics. 

She would also have to pass an examination for the professional practice of psychology and pay the $2,000 fine. 

The College of Psychologists of New Brunswick declined to comment. 

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