Is Your Life Coach Really a Former Psychologist or Psychiatrist Who Lost Their License?

In many states, an individual can advertise themselves as a provider of therapeutic services to help people deal with their problems.

The person can do it without a license and it’s entirely legal, as long as he/she doesn't associated themselves with any of the professional titles that are regulated by state licensing agencies, such as “psychologist."

Such individuals use titles such as “life coach,” “mentor,” “consultant,” and “private psychotherapist.”

For the consumer, accepting services from an unlicensed therapist may be no more risky that accepting services from a licensed one—as long as you know they are unlicensed.

In some cases, these unlicensed providers once had licenses to practice medicine or psychology until they did something which caused the state to take away their license. A few examples of this follow.


The Ablow Center in Newburyport, Massachusetts is run by psychiatrist Keith Ablow, a former commentator on Fox News. The Ablow Center website states that Ablow "practiced psychiatry for over 25 years before developing his own life coaching, mentoring and spiritual counseling system." A recent press release from the Ablow Center also states that he "no longer prescribes medications" but "has devised unique protocols of natural supplements to increase mood, reduce anxiety, increase focus...." [1]

Fact is, Ablow "no longer prescribes medications" because he no longer has the authority to do so. In 2019, Ablow lost both his New York and Massachusetts medical licenses. He is prohibited from practicing medicine and psychiatry.

The Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine suspended Ablow’s license May 15, 2019 following allegations that he engaged in sexual activity and boundary violations with multiple patients, diverted controlled substances from patients, engage in disruptive behavior, including displaying and pointing a firearm on multiple occasions in a manner that scared an employee. The Board announced that Ablow posed “an immediate and serious threat to public health.” Further, the Board stated that Ablow “procured his [Massachusetts medical] license fraudulently” by failing to disclose on his application that he had been under investigation by the New York medical license authority. [2]

He was afforded a hearing before the Massachusetts Board to present his case in support of his professed innocence but it does not appear that he availed himself of the opportunity. 

Ablow came under investigation by the New York Office of Professional Medical Conduct in August 2012 following a complaint filed by a patient. The Office issued an Interim Order of Conditions precluding Ablow from practicing medicine in New York, effective May 28, 2019. [3]


Robert “Dr. Bob” Weathers is an Irvine, California-based “recovery coach,” as well as a speaker, trainer, and consultant, according to his website. On his blog, wherein he regularly quotes poets and philosophers at length, Weathers admits to having dealt with his own chemical addiction.

He also lets you know that he’s got a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and 40 years of counseling experience. [4]

What he doesn’t mention is that he surrendered his psychologist’s license to the California Board of Psychology in 2010 on findings that he had sexual intercourse with a former patient. He did not deny the allegation.

In 2002, Weathers was the clinical director of a drug rehabilitation facility in Malibu called Passages. Patient S.W. went to Passages for treatment for cocaine addiction. Her therapist was Weathers. They met twice a week to talk about the issues that brought her to rehab. “She felt like she was talking to a friend rather than talking with a therapist,” according to the Psychology Board’s document.

Prior to engaging her in a romantic and then sexual relationship, Weathers admitted to S.W. that he had been romantically involved with a graduate student while he was at Pepperdine University. He ended up leaving her and she reported their relationship to the Dean, who asked for Weathers’ resignation. As a result, he lost his professorship and tenure at the university.

Though S.W. returned to her home in New Hampshire in December 2012 after her treatment at Passages, Weathers remained in intimate email correspondence with her. When she came back to California to see her mother in February 2003, Weathers took her on a date and ultimately had sexual intercourse with her.

Psychologists are prohibited from engaging in sexual contact for at least two years after the conclusion of the patient-therapist relationship.

Weathers continued to visit S.W. and engaged in sexual intercourse. In December 2003, he moved to New Hampshire and, in 2006, married S.W. Later in the year, poor Bob had a “melt down” after returning from some short-term work at Passages. He “really wanted to move back to California,” according to the Board’s document.

In January 2007, he left S.W. Though he later agreed to attend reconciliatory therapy with her, he backed out of that too. [5]


Kara Karam can be found online as a “relationship coach” and a “life coach” who provides services in both Columbus, Ohio and in the Virgin Islands. [6]

The state of Ohio initially issued a psychology license to Karam on December 10, 1999.

The Ohio Board of Psychology suspended her license indefinitely on January 26, 2017.

The Board’s document gives the basis for the suspension:

“On July 19, 2016, the Board received a complaint from Client X, who alleged that Dr. Karam engaged her in a personal and sexual relationship within weeks following the termination of an outpatient psychological psychotherapy relationship. It was alleged that Dr. Karam shared a home and living expenses with her and allowed Client X to pay Dr. Karam’s legal fees related to a matter involving another former patient.”

Karam admitted that the following was true:

She began treating the patient, an adult female, beginning on June 26, 2014, when the patient presented for psychological treatment through an employee assistance program. The patient sought treatment for depression and anxiety secondary to a traumatic workplace experience and a childhood history of traumatic abuse.

She provided weekly individual psychotherapy sessions to the patient for approximately five months, until October 15, 2014, when the patient’s treatment was terminated, and she transferred to another mental health provider.

Within four months of the termination of the patient-therapist relationship, she entered into a sexual relationship with the former patient.

March 15, 2015, she completed and signed an apartment rental application wherein she listed her marital status as “partnered” and listed the patient by name, as her spouse. She listed her reasons for leaving her previous residence of 15 years as “moving in with partner” and indicated that she intended to live there indefinitely. In April 2015, she and the former patient began living together.

She benefited financially from her relationship with the former patient by accepting money to pay for her personal expenses including but not limited to legal fees and living expenses, such as the former patient paying approximately ten months of her monthly rent in advance.

Her sexual relationship with the former patient continued until September 2015, when the former patient moved out of the shared residence, perceiving her relationship with Karam to be unstable and highly conflictual.

Karam further admitted that her conduct with the former patient constituted violations of rules or regulations governing professional conduct by a psychologist, including improper financial arrangements with a patient for former, patient, engaging in sexual contact with a patient or former patient within two years of the termination of therapy, terminating or interrupting therapy for the purpose of entering into a sexual, personal, or financial relationship with a patient, and others.

While suspended, Karam had agreed with the Board's request to schedule and obtain an evaluation to "identify what led to her person and sexual boundary violations with her former patient and to determine if she required any professional treatment related to any medical, psychiatric, and/or chemical dependency diagnosis and/or required any education and/or training related to personal or sexual boundary violations." Karam never obtained the evaluation.

Further, the Board made several attempts to inform Karam of her opportunity for a hearing on the charges against her but she failed to respond or failed to make it possible for the Board to reach her. Thus, the Board held its hearing in her absence and permanently revoked her license on April 16, 2021. [7]


Lucke, a Missouri licensed psychologist from 1991 to 2016, surrendered his license after being charged with unethical conduct, incompetency, misconduct, gross negligence, fraud, misrepresentation or dishonesty, and violation of professional trust or confidence.

Lucke was investigated by the Missouri state licensing authority based on a complaint it received stating that Lucke had been engaged in "an inappropriated relationship" with a female patient. The Missouri State Committee of Psychologists' Settlement Agreement describes the patient as having an alcohol problem including numerous DUI convictions resulting in the loss of her driver's license. It also states that Lucke admitted having been at the patient's residence when she was intoxicated and that he was assisting her to help get her license reinstated.

According to the Settlement Agreement, this included Lucke writing a letter to the judge on the case, stating that the patient had been sober for two months--which Lucke knew was untrue, as his patient records reflected that the patient was still drinking alcohol during the specified time period.


Carol Landesman is an “integrative and holistic life, health and wellness practitioner/coach” located in Gresham, Oregon. [8]

From November 1989 until approximately April 2013, Landesman was a licensed psychologist in the state of Oregon. Her license expired in 2013 and it appears that she never attempted to renew it. Her status with the Oregon Board of Psychologist Examiners is “Retired Psychologist.”

However, in July 2014, Landesman pleaded guilty to one count of felony mail fraud for having billed a religious organization for work she never performed—a crime she committed between 2004 and 2010, in her capacity as a counseling psychologist. She was sentenced November 13, 2015 to three years’ probation with the first six months to be spent on home detention.

The false billings began in 2004 when the Diocese of Paterson, New Jersey, settled a lawsuit with a man who had been sexually abused by a priest as a child. The diocese paid the victim and his wife nearly $300,000 and also agreed to pay for the couple to undergo counseling with Landesman. She treated the husband and collected more than $100,000 for that work but the wife decided against therapy. Nevertheless, Landesman sent numerous invoices to the diocese, stating that she’d provided counseling to the wife, for which the diocese compensated her.

As part of her sentence, Landesman was required to pay $113,770 in restitution to the diocese. [9]


On December 18, 2018, the Minnesota Board of Psychology revoked the license of psychologist Herman Thompson for having exploited a patient for his own sexual benefit.

The patient, identified only as J.W., was initially raised by a crack-addicted mother and then a violent, alcoholic father and was removed from the father's custody after J.W. reported that he had beaten him. He was then in an out of foster homes and group homes for several years. At age 16, due to worsening behavior, he was referred to Thompson for counseling in August 2003. 

During the fifth session, in October 2003, Thompson and J.W. wrestled over a ball. The wrestling activity turned sexual, with Thompson performing oral sex on the boy. Thompson gave the boy a small amount of cash and told him not to tell anyone what had happened because it could get him (Thompson) in trouble. This same type of incident occurred on multiple occasions during counseling sessions. J.W. discontinued therapy with Thompson shortly before his eighteenth birthday.

J.W., who ended up homeless, called Thompson, who picked him up and took him to him home, where he cooked for him, gave him money, and performed oral sex on him. J.W. further reported that when he was 18 or 19 years old, he would drink with Thompson and he believed the drinks were drugged because he would feel more out of it than he should have and would wake up with his pants undone.

Prior to revoking his license, the Board of Psychology placed Thompson's license on conditional status due to his inappropriate conduct with two other young boys. Thompson admitted that in 2008, he took a picture of a teenage male patient while the patient flexed his muscles and lifted his shirt. The Board also found that, on January 18, 2013, Thompson gave an 11-year-old male patient a shoulder rub during which he touched the patient's chest and rubbed his shoulders, without skin contact. The Board prohibited him from seeing patients under the age of 16 and requiring that any 16 to 18 year-old patients be accompanied by an adult during sessions.

The Board’s Order revoking Thompson’s license states that Thompson “currently works as a life coach, providing teaching and consultation one-on-one to clients regarding problem solving, conflict resolution, and communication.” [10]


Ischler's LinkedIn page indicates she has degree in psychology and has been a life coach with the "Center for Healing and Resilience" in Minnesota for more than 35 years. This is false.

Ischler was a psychologist licensed by the state of Minnesota from some time in the 1980s until the state suspended her license in 2020.

According to the documents issued by the Minnesota Board of Psychology and state Attorney General, "There is no dispute that Licensee was a psychologist and owner of Center for Human Resources (CHR) in Northfield. In that capacity, Licensee routinely submitted false claims to the health care provider, UCare, by billing individual counseling sessions on a given day for Medicaid qualified patients who, in fact only took part in a single group therapy session on a given day. Licensee conspired with other Medicaid financed providers of transportation and translation services in executing this scheme. By coordinating the implementation of their scheme to defraud Medicaid the participants corroborated each other’s fraudulent billing."

Ischler was convicted January 30, 2020 of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and was sentenced to two years probation.

The term of her license suspension is indefinite. [11]


Mitchell's website presents him as a life coach based in Burlington, North Carolina. But he's a former Virginia psychologist whose license was revoked by the Virginia Board of Psychology on March 9, 2017 due to findings that he "engaged in a sexual and romantic relationship with a client to whom he provided individual therapy," according to the Board's document.

"Mitchell's testimony demonstrated a lack of insight and an understanding of a dual relationship," the document states. "His letters of support were written by people who have a dual relationship with Dr. Mitchell."

The Board also noted that as soon as it had revoked his license, he "engaged the public as a life coach, which has an overlap with therapy." 

Mitchell evidently filed an application with the Board for reinstatement of his Virginia psychologist license in 2021, which the Board denied March 2, 2021. [12] 


On Arlen Craig's LinkedIn profile, he presents himself as a self-employed life coach/psychologist. But more accurately he is a disgraced psychologist who has resorted to being a life coach.  

On September 13, 2019, the Oregon Board of Psychology revoked Craig's license for engaging in immoral or unprofessional conduct or gross negligence in the practice of psychology and violations of ethical standards including sexual harassment, exploitative relationships, and sexual intimacies with a client.

Client A, an adult female, began to meet with Craig for therapy in 2015. During the course of several therapy sessions in 2015, Craig would hold Client A's hand and touched her lower back.

During the course of sessions during 2016, Craig engaged in flirtatious behavior with Client A. The client terminated therapy on August 1, 2016. Craig subsequently began to communicate with her by email, using a personal email address.

Craig and Client A began to meet at a Starbucks in the Portland Metropolitan area, and on occasion, meet in Craig’s car and drive to a secluded area and engaged in encounters that included physical acts of intimacy.

On or about October 14, 2017, Craig had a final sexualized encounter in his car with Client A. The Board's revocation document notes that Craig's actions sexually exploited the client and caused her to suffer emotional distress and harm. [13]

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Buyer beware: the unregulated “professional coach” industry offers an opportunity for self-proclaimed experts in life’s challenges to charge a fee for their services, but of even greater concern is that it's become a haven for convicted and disgraced former psychologists to continue trading on their Ph.D.s without having to reveal their crimes and misdeeds or answer to a state licensing agency.

Citizens Commission on Human Rights recommends that if you are considering accepting the services of a life coach or similar-titled person, to do a bit of research, such as with Google, to ensure that you're not putting your personal matters into the hands of a felon or other less-than-reputable individual.


[1] “About Us,” Ablow Center website. URL:

[2] “State board suspends prominent psychiatrist Keith Ablow’s license,” Boston Globe, May 16, 2019, URL: and Order of Temporary Suspension in the Matter of Keith Ablow, M.D., Adjudicatory Case No. 2019-028, Board of Registration in Medicine, May 15, 2019.

[3] Interim Order of Conditions in the Matter of Keith Ablow, M.D., BPMC No. 19-122, NY Dept. of Health State Board for Professional Medical Conduct, May 21, 2019

[4] “About” page, website of Dr. Bob Weathers, URL:

[5] Stipulated Surrender of License and Order in the Matter of the Accusation Against Robert Weathers, Ph.D., Case No. 1F-2008-190012, California Board of Psychology, May 27, 2010.

[6] Entry for Kara J. Karam, Noomii, The Professional Coach Director, and website of Kara J. Karam, Psy.D, URL:

[7] Consent Agreement between Kara J. Karam, Psy.D. and Ohio Board of Psychology, January 26, 2017 and Adjudication Order in the Matter of Kara Karam, Psy.D, psychologist license #p.5612, Case #2020-9859, Ohio State Board of Psychology, Apr. 16, 2021.

[8] Website homepage of Carol Landesman, Ph.D., URL:

[9] “Psychologist sentenced to probation in fraud case,” The Bulletin, November 14, 2015.

[10] “Findings of Fact, Conclusions, and Final Order in the Matter of Herman Thompson, M.Eq., L.P., License No. LP2769, Minnesota Board of Psychology, December 18, 2018.

[11] LinkedIn page of Dorothee Ischler, Findings of Fact, Conclusions, and Final Order in the Matter of Dorothee Ischler, M.A., L.P., License Number LP1073, Before the Minnesota Board of Psychology, May 21, 2021; and Judgment in a Criminal Case, USA vs Dorothee Ischler, Case 0:18-cr-00259-DWF, United States District Court District of Minnesota, filed Jan. 30, 2020.

[12] Order in re: David Michael Mitchell, Psy.D., L.C.P. Reinstatement Applicant, Lic. No. 0810-004863, Case No. 203456, Virginia Board of Psychology, Mar. 2, 2021.

[13] LinkedIn profile of Arlen Craig, URL: and Stipulated Order in the Matter of Arlen S. Craig, Ph.D., License No. 2315, Agency No. OBPE #2018-062, Before the Board of Psychology, State of Oregon, September 13, 2019

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