Los Angeles-area psychologist Ross Porter surrenders license on charges involving family
May 10, 2012
On March 6, 2012, psychologist Ross U. Porter surrendered his license to the California Board of Psychology in lieu of facing a hearing on twelve counts of negligence.
According to the Board’s document which laid out the accusations against him, Porter engaged in multiple relationships with the daughter of a family to whom he provided individual and family therapy. The family, described in the state’s documents as “The ‘A’ Family,” consisted of a mother, father and six children.
Porter provided therapy to the mother and daughter, “Angela,” in 2007. This progressed into therapy for the mother and father and then into family therapy. In late 2007 or early 2008, Porter provided counseling to Angela both individually and with other family members. Porter encouraged Angela to interact socially with his family and to do volunteer work in conjunction with a fundraiser for Porter’s non-profit organization he ran called Stillpoint. Porter also hired and paid her to baby sit and house sit for him. When a health care practitioner engages a patient in his or her business or social activities, it is considered potentially harmful to the patient and is a violation of the American Psychological Association’s ethical principles, as well as a violation of sections of the California Business and Professions Code.
In late 2008, during a therapy session with Angela and her parents, Porter recommended that Angela be allowed to move into his home for an indefinite period of time. It was agreed and she moved in. Porter failed to consult with any peers on the ethical propriety of such an arrangement. Angela ate with the family and generally interacted with them while receiving treatment from Porter at his residence, rather than at either of his two offices, where the sessions were formerly delivered.
In 2009, convinced that Angela was abusing alcohol and prescription drugs and engaging in dangerous and illegal activity while living in Porter’s home and under his care, Angela’s parents conducted an intervention in which they removed her from the residence and enrolled her in a proper addiction treatment program. Porter was not in support of the intervention.
The state’s documents indicate that Porter and his wife continued to call and e-mail the family in an attempt to make contact with Angela and to allow her to have contact with their children, in a manner which bordered on harassment, according to a message the family sent Porter.
The Board noted that, additionally, Porter never presented the family with invoices or statements but simply told them each month what they owed. However, he neither provided them any receipts.
Further, according to the state’s documents, Porter accidentally discarded the entire “A Family” file as he was preparing to move his office and so had no records of his treatment of the family at the time of the Board’s investigation.
Porter acknowledged that the charges and allegations the Board brought against him, if proven at a hearing, would constitute cause for discipline. Porter agreed that cause for discipline existed and forewent a hearing.
In addition to the surrender of his license, Porter was required to reimburse the Board $44,316 for the costs of investigation and enforcement in the matter.
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