Virginia Psychology Board Suspends David Ribbe, Ph.D. for Sexual Touching, More

November 1, 2018

On September 24, 2018, the Virginia Board of Psychology issued a Summary Suspension on the license of psychologist David Ribbe. 

A summary suspension is an immediate action taken without a hearing when there is sufficient information to lead to the conclusion that it would be in the public's best interest to take such action.

According to the Board's Statement of Allegations, "Dr. Ribbe failed to maintain appropriate therapeutic boundaries and engaged in a dual personal and romantic relationship" with "a female client who originally presented for therapy in April 2015 for anxiety and depression."

The document states that Ribbe was romantically involved with the woman during and after the time she was his patient and that the relationship included "sexual touching." 

The document provides specifics: 

  • Ribbe failed to restrict the patient's email communications or to consistently maintain firmer boundaries regarding communication outside of treatment sessions. Ribbe began regularly communicating with the patient by phone and text message...and engaging in daily phone calls with her which were not billed or documented as therapeutic sessions. 
  • The patient communicated to Ribbe that she believed his behavior towards her was flirtatious in nature and she expressed romantic interest in him. Ribbe failed to address transference, failed to terminate therapy and refer her to a different treatment provider, and failed consistently maintain firmer boundaries both during and outside of therapy sessions.
  • Despite indications that the patient was experiencing pain, confusion, and anger related to the transference and that she was not benefiting from the therapeutic relationship, he continued to provide therapy to her. 
  • Again, despite these indications, Ribbe regularly engaged in physical touching with the patient during treatment sessions, including allowing her to lie with her head on a pillow in his lap, caressing her forehead and /or back, and holding her hands. In addition, on at least one occasion, Ribbe told her that he loved her. 
  • In an email dated December 2, 2016. the patient expressed distress, hurt, and anger over the relationship she had with Ribbe, and begged him to maintain the boundaries and get the therapeutic relationship back on track. Despite indications that she was in distress, Ribbe failed to reestablish appropriate treatment boundaries, and failed to terminate the therapeutic relationship and refer the patient to another treatment provider that that time. 
  • During a December 5, 2016 treatment session, Ribbe touched the patient's vaginal area over her clothes and induced her to have an orgasm. In addition, Ribbe billed the patient and her medical insurance for the session. Following the experience, the patient expressed that was feeling emotional distress, including fear, anger, guilt, and shame with regard to the episode. 
  • Following that session, the patient terminated therapy with Ribbe and sought treatment elsewhere. Despite indications that an ongoing relationship with him was causing the patient emotional harm and that continued contact with him was interfering with the therapeutic relationship between the patient and her new therapist, Ribbe remained in contact with the patient via text, phone, and occasional in-person meetings until late September 2017. Text messages from this period contain flirtations and suggestive content. 
  • On or about May 16, 2017, Ribbe and the patient agreed to meet with each other. After talking a walk, they returned to his office, where they engaged in sexual touching, including kissing and touching the patient's breasts under her shirt. They were interruped by Ribbe's wife entering the building, at which point Ribbe instructed the patient to leave, despite her car keys being his his pocket. Ribbe later texted the patient, who was forced to stand outside in the dark, unable to get into her car and leave, advising her that he'd left her keys behind and outside FedEx box. 

An audit of Ribbe's treatment records by the state Department of Health Professions found that, of 168 patients seen in 2017, Ribbe had maintained complete charts on only four of them. Approximately 66 files contained no charts. There were no files at all for 38 patients. 

Source: Order for Summary Suspension in re: David Paul Ribbe, L.C.P. License Number 0810-002166, Case Number 183205, Virginia Board of Psychology, September 24, 2018


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