Los Angeles Psychologist Michael D. Pariser Accused of Sexual Misconduct with Patient

February 7, 2023

On January 20, 2023, the California Board of Psychology issued a former Accusation against psychologist Michael D. Pariser for sexual misconduct with a patient, sexual contact with a former patient, and failure to cooperate with the Board’s investigation, among other things.

The Board’s document states the following:

Patient 1 treated with Pariser between December 12, 2014, and March 11, 2019. Initially, Patient 1 sought treatment for eating issues and general anxiety. In approximately 2017, Patient 1 developed romantic feelings for Pariser. During the treatment period, Patient 1 expressed interest in beginning a sexual relationship with Pariser. Pariser willfully disregarded the boundaries of the psychologist-patient relationship and ultimately began a sexual relationship with Patient 1 after their final treatment session.


Initially, Patient 1 saw Pariser one time per week, but this soon increased to twice per week. During the treatment period, Pariser failed to document approximately 40 treatment sessions for which he billed Patient 1 and/or her insurer.

Pariser first documented Patient 1’s romantic interests in the treatment note dated June 18, 2015. Specifically, Pariser questioned whether or not Patient 1 “had some ‘inappropriate’ thoughts about wanting to go away with me.” Pariser further documented that Patient 1 admitted to being uncomfortable discussing “emotional reactions between herself and Pariser.”

In the treatment note dated January 21, 2016, Pariser documented that Patient 1 was engaged in “semi-nude [Internet-based adult entertainment] work because she likes it.” Patient 1 was concerned about whether Pariser would negatively judge her choices. During the treatment period, Patient 1 repeatedly expressed the desire to please Pariser and her need for Pariser’s approval during the remainder of the treatment period.

In approximately 2017, Patient 1 began to discuss her interest in alternative lifestyles, particularly the BDSM (a term for a variety of sexual practices that include bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, and sadism) community. Pariser was involved in the same alternative lifestyle community.

In the treatment note dated July 25, 2017, Pariser documented Patient 1’s “erotic feelings towards him.” Pariser further documented that he “shared some feelings he had about Patient 1, which were more life-affirming than sexual, but still had an erotic quality.”

According to the treatment note dated October 3, 2017, Patient 1 questioned Pariser regarding his “feelings about her.” Pariser documented that he was unsure whether Patient 1 hoped to “initiate a love affair” with him.

According to the treatment note dated November 20, 2017, the treatment session focused on Patient 1’s feelings of embarrassment regarding her sexual feelings for Pariser.

According to the treatment note dated August 3, 2018, Patient 1 again reported “romantic and erotic” feelings for Pariser.

According to the treatment note dated August 6, 2018, a portion of the session was devoted to discussing Pariser’s “refusal to engage sexually [with Patient 1] not as personal rejection, but as an act of loving care.”

In approximately October 2018, Pariser told Patient 1 that he planned to close his therapy practice. According to Patient 1, during the period following this disclosure and the actual closing date, Pariser and Patient 1 discussed starting a sexual relationship upon the closure of Pariser’s practice.

According to the treatment note dated November 1, 2018, the session was focused on the “continued exploring erotic transference, looking for the buried fantasy that is being played out between Pariser and Patient 1.”

In approximately November 2018, Pariser and Patient 1 unknowingly attended the same alternative lifestyle gathering. Patient 1 was unaware that Pariser was in attendance. Pariser did not interact with Patient 1 and left shortly after he saw Patient 1. According to the treatment note dated November 5, 2018, Pariser “discussed running into Patient 1 at a public event, and we agreed to talk about future events in the sub-community of which we are part.” During the same session, Patient 1 again expressed her romantic interests in Pariser and stated that she wished they had interacted at the gathering.

During a therapy session in approximately 2018, Patient 1 discussed her underemployment issues. Pariser suggested that Patient 1 work at an adult entertainment facility that serves the alternative lifestyle community. Pariser knew the facility owners and offered to introduce Patient 1 at an upcoming event.

On or about January 10, 2019, Pariser and Patient 1 attended the event together at the facility. although pariser and patient 1 did not engage in sexual activity at that time, they were together in a sexual environment. following the event, patient 1 secured employment in some capacity at the facility.

According to the treatment note dated February 8, 2019, Patient 1 found “a home at facility specifically, and more, in the kink community.” During an interview with a Division of Investigation (“DOI”) investigator, Patient 1 claimed that she engaged in virtual treatment sessions with Pariser while she was present at the facility and while sexual acts were occurring around her.

According to Patient 1, during therapy sessions following the gathering, she again asked Pariser about the possibility of engaging in a sexual relationship. Pariser stated that he would need to ask either his attorney or another therapist for guidance.

On February 15, 2019, Pariser emailed Patient 1 a link to a sexually explicit music video. Patient 1 replied that she was "flattered by Pariser thinking of her in relation to the song."

On or about March 4, 2019, Patient 1 emailed Pariser regarding his interest in attending a concert on March 11, 2019. Between March 4, 2019 and March 9, 2019, Pariser and Patient 1 exchanged several emails regarding the concert and Pariser’s purchase of tickets.

On or about March 8, 2019, Pariser invited Patient 1 to his presentation regarding the use of emotions in psychotherapy. The presentation was held at a colleague's home, and the audience was a small group of therapists.

Patient 1’s final therapy session occurred on March 11, 2019.

Pariser and Patient 1 attended the concert together on March 11, 2019, and started a romantic/sexual relationship the same day.

Between March 11, 2019, and January 2020, Pariser and Patient 1 continued their romantic/sexual relationship.

During the period of their sexual/romantic relationship, Pariser co-signed for Patient 1's apartment lease. In a professional capacity, Pariser also wrote a letter to the apartment lessor regarding Patient 1’s need for a therapy dog and requested an Americans with Disabilities Act accommodation based upon that need.

During the relationship period, Patient 1 experienced significant anxiety and alcohol use issues. As a result, Pariser threatened to terminate the relationship if Patient 1 failed to resolve her issues.

On December 26, 2019, Pariser sent an email to Patient 1 entitled “Your Plan” with an attachment entitled “KB Plan,” which was a document drafted by Pariser with the purpose of guiding Patient 1 in “cleaning up her life.”

In approximately February 2020, Pariser terminated the romantic/sexual relationship with Patient 1.

On or about January 28, 2021, Patient 1 submitted a complaint to the Board of Psychology regarding her and Pariser’s inappropriate relationship.

On or about April 26, 2021, the assigned DOI investigator sent a request to Pariser’s attorney to schedule a subject interview with Pariser.

On or about May 5, 2021, Pariser's attorney informed the DOI investigator that Pariser would not agree to be interviewed. As a result, no subject interview was conducted with Pariser.

Source: Accusation in the Matter of the Accusation against Michael David Pariser, Psy.D., Psychologist License No. PSY 20038, Case No. 600-2021-000097, Board of Psychology, Department of Consumer Affairs, State of California, Jan. 20, 2023.


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