Board Suspends Psychologist Michael Doyle for Touching, Kissing Patient

April 2, 2009

A St. John's psychologist who admits he crossed a line with a former patient kissed her and told her he wanted to be "her bed buddy," a newly released investigative report says.

The Newfoundland and Labrador (Canada) Psychology Board has suspended Michael Doyle, from practising for four months.

Doyle, who works at Memorial University's Counselling Centre, pleaded guilty to professional misconduct at a board tribunal and admitted wrongdoing with a female student in his care between 2001 and 2005.

The board released the report of the tribunal to CBC News.

The tribunal found that Doyle had inappropriately touched the patient while he treated her, and refused to end contact with her when she halted therapy.

The tribunal found that "Dr. Doyle had inappropriate physical contact with her during treatment sessions (e.g., touching, holding and kissing), that Dr. Doyle disclosed to her personal and private information (e.g., about issues with members of his family) and made comments to her that constituted sexual harassment (e.g., saying he wished he could be her bed buddy, viewing erotic material with his patient)."

The patient stopped treatment in July 2005, after Doyle had kissed her. However, the report says, Doyle tried to make contact with her until March 2006, when she told him she would lodge a complaint.

The tribunal said that Doyle claimed the "complicated nature" of the complainant "led to the development of a therapist secondary traumatic stress reaction with a secondary grief reaction" that "resulted in his inappropriate behaviours."

Doyle has sought treatment from both a psychiatrist and a psychologist.

Doyle was suspended by Memorial University, but has returned to non-clinical duties at its counselling centre.

The university said in a statement that the tribunal's report does not change its position, and that Doyle's direct contact with students will be limited.

If Doyle returns to private practice in July, he will be under the supervision of the psychology board for one year.

Source:  “Suspended psychologist asked to be patient's 'bed buddy,' report shows,” CBC News, April 2, 2009, URL:


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