Counselor Sarah N. Kohlenberger reprimanded, fined for failing to acknowledge child's serious medical condition

August 7, 2013

On April 16, 2013, the Washington State Department of Health (DoH) issued an agreed order, reprimanding mental health counselor Sarah Natanya Kohlenberger.

According to the DoH’s document, in 2009, Kohlenberger counseled a woman for depression relative to the care of child she’d adopted who was diagnosed with systemic juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA), and autoimmune disorder that causes persistent swelling of the joints, stiffness, pain, inflammation, fevers and rash.

Kohlenberger later took on the child as a client as well but failed to adequately research the child’s condition and failed to communicate with the diagnosing medical doctor. As a result, she failed to incorporate the child’s condition into her treatment plan.

Further, in December 2011, Kohlenberger drafted a letter at the request of the adoptive parents, who were seeking to relinquish care to another family. In the letter, Kohlenberger characterized the child’s condition as a strictly behavioral matter, omitting the existence of the child’s JRA.

A medical doctor who treated the child acknowledge him as “one of the sickest children I have ever seen” and expressed concern at Kohlenberger’s “nonsensical” diagnosis of the child and her “absence of training” in neurology and rheumatology: “She seems to be attempting to practice medicine and psychiatry without a license and is doing great harm” he wrote.

In addition to the reprimand, Kohlenberger was placed on practice monitoring for 24 months and must pay a fine of $2,500.


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