On a similar note, I recently participated in a conference up in Boston where I sat at a table with a gentleman who identified himself as working in another state in a position as a psychologist. Further into the conversation, I asked "So where did you get your Ph.D.?" Oh, no, he was quick to correct me, I don't have a Ph.D., I just have a bachelor's degree in psychology--this is simply how the department identifies my position. Oh well, I told myself, at least he didn't major in pottery making--he has some background in the field.
However, this does bring up an important subject--how the CT state government allows agencies funded by state and federal money to use deceptive job titles in order to obscure exactly what qualifications their workers actually have, and what services they are providing. This is a form of fraud and it is exactly what Paul Boyne experienced in 2012 when he embarked upon what he understood to be reunification counseling with his children at the TIP program operated by Klingberg Family Center under the auspices of the CT Judicial Branch.
Paul Boyne was divorced in 2007 and his ex-wife was given sole custody of their three children as well as sole decision making in regard to when Paul could see the children. As a consequence, Mr. Boyne did not see his children for several years until October 24, 2012, when Judge Gerald Adelman ordered him and the children to participate in reunification therapy with the Transitions in Parenting or TIP program.
The Access and Visitation Programs run by the CT Judicial Branch at the Klingberg Center have two separate parts: 1. The Supervised Visitation Program and 2. The TIP Program.
The first program, i.e. the Supervised Visitation Program provides a “safe, substance-free, closely-monitored and controlled environment for children to have contact with their parent. A Family Support Worker who is qualified on the bachelor's level supervises the non-custodial parent’s visits with the children. In contrast, the Transitions in Parenting program provides "a master's level therapist" to deal with "the complex emotional issues involved when a parent re-enters a child's life after a long separation or enters the child's life for the first time." The purpose of the program is to "set up the basis for a healthy, positive, and lasting parent-child relationship." This is the program that the Court ordered Paul Boyne and his children to participate in.
Although Mr. Boyne felt initially enthusiastic about the program, before long he realized this was just another situation where family court was setting him up to fail.
For one thing, the Klingberg Center allowed the mother to play games and sabotage the TIP sessions. For instance, on December 18, 2012 she cancelled a scheduled visit of father with the children the day before it was supposed to take place. This made it difficult for Paul Boyne who lives in Virginia and has to make the long trip up to Connecticut when he wants to see his kids. The Court Order required that the parties make accommodations for the fact that Mr. Boyne lived out of state which would, you would think, include providing sufficient advanced notice for appointments at the Klingberg Center.
A similar situation took place on January 4, 2012 when the mother refused to affirm or deny whether she intended to bring the children to Klingberg for the father's scheduled visit with them the next day. Up to 3:30pm, she was still responding to the inquiry as to whether the kids would be there for the visit by saying mysteriously, "I'll get back to you." This eventually prompted Mr. Boyne to file a motion with the court demanding she stop doing things like that, but, of course, knowing how the Court operates, this would make him appear to be the nuisance. As one family court insider once put it, when it comes to family court, “You can’t stop a bully!” Because family court seems to like bullies and allows them to carry on with their nonsense freely.
The second thing Paul noticed is that he wasn't getting the program that he signed up for. Writing to the program about his observations on the therapy and Ms. Kathy Service, the social worker in charge of his case, he stated, "The Transitions in Parenting (TIP) program is a "clinical intervention which is to identify and treat the underlying impasses that interfere with [father's] access to the children" However, "Kath S[ervice] has failed to understand the State's requirement. She has not provided any identification of the underlying impasse." Not only that, Paul Boyne observed that "there is no protocol being applied and no evidence provided of any impasse related to the children." As it turned out, the Klingberg Clinic was actually providing him supervised visitation, not the reunification therapy which was supposed to be provided through the TIP program he described and which had been court ordered by Judge Adelman.
One clue in to this was the fact that not long after starting at the Klingberg Center, Mr. Boyne received a copy of the Child Intake form which was alleged to reproduce in full and in detail the children making rude and insulting remarks about their father on the level of "We don't want to have anything to do with him" and showed very little indication that the therapist had attempted to assist the children in understanding how these attitudes came about. This document was so upsetting that, in a later "Notice" to the court dated January 4, 2013, Paul Boyne identified the reported conversation as an indication of child abuse. The point of the TIP program is supposed to be to rebuild the relationship between the parent and children, not to drive them further apart or create permanent, written barriers to their relationship.
In addition, Paul Boyne participated in two visits which were overseen by the TIP social worker, Ms. Kathy Service, but which didn't include any kind of psychotherapy. In a later report on these visits, all Ms. Service did was describe what happened during the visits and reproduced what Mr. Boyne and the children said to each other, which is exactly what you would get if all that she was doing was supervised visitation.
Faced with this kind of ongoing obstruction coming directly from the Klingberg program which was supposed to be helping him, Paul Boyne investigated Ms. Kathy Service further and discovered that even though she had a masters in social work, she was not licensed in the State of Connecticut. Further, Paul Boyne reported, it turned out that Kathy Service had tried and failed to pass the licensing exam on at least three occasions and possibly up to five. This did not bode well for the quality of professional providing services with the TIP program and, as far as Paul Boyne was concerned, possibly explained why his family was receiving less than competent services.
Like most people, he had assumed that any professional hired by the state and playing such a crucial role in the well being of his children would be licensed. By law, a social worker who does not have a license is not allowed to practice psychotherapy without proper supervision and while providing such services must be identified as a social worker intern. Since, at that time, Paul believed that he was receiving therapy services from the TIP program he viewed this situation as a form of fraud. As a result, Paul Boyne ultimately decided to file a complaint against Kathy Service with the Department of Public Health (DPH) on May 6, 2013.
At this point, Paul Boyne had no idea that what he had actually been given was supervised visitation, not reunification therapy as provided by the TIP program. As stated before, supervised visitation does not require a license or even a master's degree. The fact that the Klingberg Center pretended to Paul Boyne that he was getting therapy with the TIP program when all they were doing was supervised visitation, was highly deceitful.
Essentially, the Klingberg Center placed Paul Boyne and his family in a state of ongoing confusion, which I believe was deliberately created, regarding what Ms. Kathy Service was supposed to be doing based on Judge Adelman's Court Order, i.e. reunification therapy, versus what Mr. Boyne sensed that she was actually doing, which was supervised visitation. I believe this was a purposeful strategy arising somewhere in the relationship between Hartford Family Court and the Klingberg Center.
The end result was that Paul Boyne got stuck in a maze of obfuscation which he had to battle his way out of. I myself, as a member of the public, was completely mystified. Just the Department of Public Health's internal documents alone are so full of complex bureaucratic language it is almost impossible to know what happened. I believe the DPH and/or the Klingberg Center did this deliberately to avoid being held accountable. Nonetheless, I will do my best to clarify what went on.
Once the Department of Public Health received Paul Boyne's complaint, it was assigned to one of their investigators, Mary Beth Mendes. It was also referred to an outside consultant--Mr. Kurt Fuchs, a social worker practicing in Farmington, CT--for further investigation. On September 4, 2013, Mr. Fuchs wrote a report with the underlying presumption that the TIP program had been applied in Paul Boyne's case.
Essentially, Mr. Fuchs' report absolved the TIP program and Ms. Kathy Service of any wrongdoing for practicing therapy without a license by stating that Ms. Service had not been providing therapy when she was working with the Boyne family because the TIP Program is not therapy. As he stated, "The Transition in Parenting program . . . use[s] terms such as 'clinical, therapist, and therapy" in their description of the type of services provided and the qualifications of the program staff who are delivering said services. A closer review of the documents reveals that these services do not meet the criteria of 'clinical social work'. Further he stated, "While Ms. Service's report to the court identifies her as a "therapist," I found no evidence in the documents that Ms. Service was either expected to--or conducted--"therapy" or "clinical social work" that would have required the possession of a clinical license.
Yes, but she was pretending to do it while actually doing supervised visitation instead. But wait a minute, what Mr. Fuchs is saying, is even if she had been applying the TIP program in Paul Boyne's case, that would not have been social work which required a license either. So what we have is a deception underlying another deception.
In other words, just like my friend the pottery maker, Kathy Service was not a clinician. But you see, this is the problem. When you use such terms with the public, and the public associates such terms with the actual licensed practice of therapy or social work, they will actually believe that they are dealing with mental health professionals. Using terminology deliberately which the TIP program and the DPH are well aware raises certain expectations, and using them in such a manner as to deceive, is essentially a form of fraud.
In her report on the investigation dated September 26, 2013, Mary Beth Mendes also acknowledged that the TIP program used terms that would raise the expectation that people like Paul Boyne would assume he was dealing with a qualified, licensed mental health professional and was receiving legitimate therapy. However, according to Ms. Mendes, in fact he was not. Going through the documents related to the program Ms. Mendes found the following:
1. On the child intake form, Kathy Service was listed as a "therapist";
Analyzing the situation further Ms. Mendes stated, "On [Kathy Service's]reports of her meetings with [Paul Boyne] and his children, her observations are referred to as "Counselor's Observations". Throughout these reports [Kathy Service] refers to herself as "this therapist". Ms. Mendes also noted that "The descriptions of the services of the TIP Program and the qualifications of the program staff who are delivering these services include the terms "clinical", "therapist" and "therapy".
So how does a program sponsored by the CT Judicial Branch and operated by the highly regarded Klingberg Center get away with implying that they are providing mental health care and using staff that are licensed social workers when, in fact, they are not?
The explanation that Mary Beth Mendes gave was that the Klingberg Center can do it because terms such as "clinical", "therapist", and "therapy" are not protected terms under Connecticut General Statutes, which means that pretty much anybody can use these terms as they please. In other words, my friend the pottery maker who styles herself a clinician is no more a clinician than I am, yet because there is no law to prevent her from using the term exactly as she pleases, she can use any one of those terms to refer to herself, as could I if I chose to. Right now, I could hang a sign right outside my house stating "psychotherapist" and no one could stop me. And, when it comes to my pottery making friend, in terms of her own employment, the State of Connecticut is allowing her to do just that when she signs her name next to the word clinician without have a single qualification that would justify her doing so.
The question is, however, why would the State of Connecticut allow its own employees who are supposed to be serving the public to exercise these kinds of deceptions on Connecticut citizens. Further, why would the Klingberg Center even consider acting this way, particularly when trust is essential to achieving success when it comes to working with families?
This leads us to our next question: Is this true? Is it true that the TIP program does not constitute social work? Or is this explanation that Kurt Fuchs provided simply an elaborately staged fraud constructed as a means to allow the DPH to avoid holding the Klingberg Center accountable for providing mental health counseling using personnel who are unlicensed? Let's look at this issue for a moment.
Again, the Transitions in Parenting program brochure states that it provides "a master's level therapist" to deal with "the complex emotional issues involved when a parent re-enters a child's life after a long separation or enters the child's life for the first time." Again, the purpose of the program is to "set up the basis for a healthy, positive, and lasting parent-child relationship."
Doesn't this sound like therapy to the average person--learning to deal with complex emotional issues, changing behavior so that a once damaged relationship can be re-established on a more positive level?
According to social worker Kurt Fuchs social work only occurs when "biopsychosocial assessments are conducted, psychiatric diagnoses formulated, and theories of behavior, behavior change, psychological processes, psychopathology, etc. are deliberately applied to fundamentally change levels of emotional function (anxiety, depression, etc.), individual behaviors and/or interpersonal/familial relations." But how many of us have undergone therapy with a licensed social worker where there was no biopsychosocial assessment or treatment plans whatsoever--marriage counseling comes to mind for instance--but still there was an expectation that therapy was taking place with the understanding that a fundamental change in behavior would occur?
Further, it would be impossible to see a difference between social work as Kurt Fuchs describes it in his report versus how the Klingberg Center describes its own services. For instance, take one excerpt from a letter the program wrote to Pamela Sarno of the CT Judicial Branch. "Klingberg will operate a therapeutic, supervised reunification program called Transition in Parenting which will provide guidance and therapeutic support for children and their parents during the process of establishing or re-building contact between the child and his or her estranged parent." In other words, "fundamentally change the levels of emotional function" between parents and children, what essentially adds up to social work!
In its application for funding from the CT Judicial Branch, Klingberg describes the TIP program further: "The purpose of the Transitions in parenting Program has been to provide individual therapy, family therapy, and sibling therapy as indicated to families referred to this program." The intention of the program is to "help reduce anger or communication problems between the parents, and to help parents objectively focus on the best interests of the child." Again, this appears to me to be an exact definition of social work.
Who provides these services? According to Klingberg, "Services are provided by a Masters Level Marriage and Family Therapist and/or a Master's Level Social Worker." So they go to all the trouble of hiring a person who has a master's degree, but they make sure that none of the "therapy" they provide actually constitutes social work? How likely is that?
At the very least, such wording raises the expectation among administrators and potential clients that the services the Klingberg will provide constitutes social work. And if that is not Klingberg's intention, then such languaging is deliberately deceptive and constitutes fraud.
It is also worth taking a look at whether those who denied that the TIP program was social work took any decisive actions based on their conclusions. For example, in his letter to the DPH, Mr. Kurt Fuchs stated that the CSSD and Klingberg created confusion by their use of the terms "clinical, therapist, and therapy." Did he recommend they stop that? No. Is there any indication that the DPH advised them to stop doing that for the sake of honesty and transparency towards their clients? No. Has either the CSSD or Klingberg corrected any of their pamphlets or information sheets so as to avoid misleading future clients the way that they allegedly confused Paul Boyne? No. Perhaps this is because the explanation they provided was simply concocted as a means to shut Paul Boyne up and has no actual basis in fact.
Attorneys, Judges, members of the 2014 task force on custody have speculated that the problems in family court arise from the fact that a small minority of litigants have mental health problems. In reality, the problem is that agencies such as the CSSD, the Klingberg Center, and the Department of Public health chose to carry out such a complex scheme to undercut Paul Boyne's ability to reestablish his relationship with his children. That's enough to drive any person, no matter how stable, right over the edge! Wouldn't it be much more fair to state that Paul Boyne is the "identified patient" trapped in a sick relationship with deeply dysfunctional state agencies (as I would suggest most family court victims are)?
The bottom line is that the Klingberg Center, for whatever the reason, had no intention of providing reunification therapy to Paul Boyne; they simply wanted to get rid of him. So Instead, they provided supervised visitation which they anticipated would be deeply aggravating to him.
Thus, in her letter to Kathy Service dated November 5, 2014 informing her that the DPH has found no violations in the case, Kathleen Boulware stated, "Your monitoring of Mr. Boyne and his minor children relating to their reunification did not constitute the practice of social work." Oh, so that is what she was doing; she was "monitoring" not "dealing with complex emotional issues" related to reunifying a parent with his children. No wonder, as Ms. Boulware continued on to state to Ms. Kathy Service, "your responsibilities in the "Transition in Parenting" program do not constitute clinical social work and you were therefore not required to have a license at the time." Of course, you weren't, because what you were doing was supervised visitation!
So to Paul who thought he was getting the TIP Program, the DPH said, the service provided was not social work, but to Ms. Kathy Service who knew very well what she was doing, Kathleen Boulware said the service you provided was only supervised visitation, so you are not liable. This left Paul Boyne with the impression that reunification therapy is not counseling, when the reality is that he never got counseling; he only obtained supervised visitation. This was a very slick way to avoid accountability, and it was basically unanswerable because Paul didn't know what was going on.
On November 5, the same day that she sent a letter to Ms. Kathy Service, Kathleen Boulware sent another letter directly to Paul Boyne stating, "the Department has concluded that no violations of the statutes governing social work practice have been identified." This was actually a full year after Mary Beth Mendes had submitted the results of her investigation to the department, which meant that the Department of Public Health simply sat on the results before sending them out. Why? Just so they could hold Paul Boyne in suspense and hold out the hope that he would eventually receive some satisfaction, when in reality they fully intended to continue to obstruct him.
Meanwhile, Paul Boyne had to spend his time at the beginning of 2013 filing motions to prevent the work Kathy Service did at the Klingberg from being used against him in court since their contents arose from an incomplete course of treatment and therefore misrepresented what was actually going on in his relationship with his children. So then he looked silly. "Isn't this a program that he wanted?" the Court might say. With the kind of convoluted and deceptive explanations the DPH provided, it would be very difficult for Paul to explain how Klingberg sabotaged his efforts to reengage with his children.
As I see it, when Hartford Family Court sent Paul Boyne to the Klingberg Center--of course you can never know what were the originating sources of the problem, but they are there--he was set up by being placed in the supervised visitation program instead of in the TIP counseling program as he expected--a course of action that was very disruptive to the entire process, and deliberately so.
One of the criteria the Court considered when deciding whether Paul Boyne could see his children again was the ability he had to work productively with the staff at Klingberg in pursuit of reunification. However, after being harassed by his ex-wife and not having any recourse, after having to read the extended negative comments about him his children were reputed to have said on an Agency intake form, and then receiving improper treatment, Mr. Boyne was simply unable to do it. The way the Klingberg Center carried out their form of reunification therapy, the price of the restoration of Paul Boyne's right to parent was the ability he had to accept humiliation and abuse without complaint--we've all been there!--and clearly, as a result of all the harassment, he failed to have the emotional reserves to do it.
Aside from very real human rights violations, the Klingberg Center was in contempt for violating a very clear order from Judge Adelman indicating that Paul Boyne was supposed to be in the TIP program, not the supervised visitation program. But with the collusion of the DPH, the Center will never be held accountable.
What is the bottom line? Paul's hopes for a reunification with his children were dashed and he was back at square one after all that investment of time and energy. My friend the pottery maker is still out there providing services for people who think she is a "clinician." There are unlicensed mental health professionals out there working for the state and providing therapy for clients who are unaware that they are not licensed. But should they ever figure it out, they will be told the therapy they received was not actually therapy. The Klingberg Center provides both supervised visitation and the TIP Program interchangeably as it pleases, depending on whether they want to harass people or not. And the Department of Public Health continues to allow places like the Klingberg Center to defraud citizens like Paul as well as the general public.