Nfld. & Labrador

Psychologist's past sexual misconduct should be disclosed, says MUN student

Eve Naji says students should be told that a psychologist at MUN's counselling centre was once suspended for sexual misconduct.

Student unaware of psychologist's past when she took appointment with him at MUN counselling centre

MUN student Eve Naji says MUN has an obligation to tell students about psychologist Michael Doyle's past. (CBC)

A Memorial University student says others have a right to know that a psychologist working at the school's counselling centre was once suspended for sexual misconduct.

"I just want community awareness. I want people to know who he is and what he's done," said Eve Naji, a second-year student at the university's St. John's campus.

Naji said she booked an appointment at MUN's Student Wellness and Counselling Centre for help coping with anxiety.

The MUN Student Wellness and Counselling Centre sits on the 5th Floor of the University Centre. (CBC)
She said she had a 30-minute session with Michael Doyle, a psychologist at the centre and professor at the university. The appointment took place in a private room, with the door closed, and she said she emerged feeling positive about the experience.

"I felt really good about the appointment, because he was very professional and nice. So I thought that I was going to get the help that I need," she said.

But that changed when she Googled him, she said.

Told student he wished he could be her 'bed buddy'

The first result that came up was a CBC News article from 2009, detailing a Newfoundland and Labrador Psychology Board (NLPB) tribunal report.

The report said Doyle pleaded guilty to professional misconduct at a board tribunal and admitted wrongdoing with a female student in his care between 2001 and 2005 while working at the university's counselling centre.

The tribunal found that Doyle had inappropriately touched the patient and refused to end contact with her when she halted therapy.

He also told the student he wished he could be her "bed buddy" and viewed "erotic material" with her, the report said.

The NLPB suspended Doyle from practicing for four months. 

Doyle sought treatment from both a psychiatrist and a psychologist, the report said.

'I felt lied to and betrayed'

As Naji read the article, she said she was "furious."

"I felt lied to and I felt betrayed," she said.

"I thought that people … had the right to know because I didn't know, and I just spent 30 minutes alone in a room with him, by myself, not knowing who he was or what he had done."

There's no way I'm going back to him or to the Wellness Centre.- Eve Naji

She said MUN has an obligation to let students know about Doyle's past before they accept appointments with him, and she posted about her experience at the centre and about Doyle's past on social media.

"Students have the right to know of who he is and what he has done. If MUN doesn't want to say it, then I will."

Registered psychologist

Sean Cadigan, MUN's associate academic vice-president, issued a statement Friday saying that after the tribunal decision, the university signed a memorandum of understanding with the faculty association outlining sanctions against Doyle. 

Naji says she wants to create awareness for the rest of the MUN community. (CBC)

Once the stipulations of the MOU were completed, Doyle returned to his full duties as a psychologist for the university, the statement said. 

Cadigan directed CBC News to the Newfoundland and Labrador Psychology Board, saying Doyle is a registered psychologist with the province.

"The [NLPB] regulates the practice of psychologists in the province and has investigative and disciplinary capacity," his statement read. 

"Anyone with a concern about a registered psychologist can make a complaint to the board."

CBC News asked the NLPB for comment and the board said it had forwarded the request to its lawyers.

As for Naji, she said she'll be looking elsewhere for help with her anxiety.

"There's no way I'm going back to him or to the wellness centre."

With files from Katie Breen

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