The NASW National Board of Directors’ Executive Committee approved the sanctioning of Patricia Caruana on June 25, 2010, based on a self-report and a subsequent report submitted by colleagues to the Maryland Chapter. According to the self-report, Caruana developed a personal and sexual relationship with a client participating in couples therapy. Caruana terminated services with the client and later terminated services with the client’s partner after being confronted by the partner. The National Ethics Committee (NEC) Intake Subcommittee reviewed the matter and accepted it for adjudication. The committee determined the scope of the proceedings to include the following sections of the NASW Code of Ethics: 1.06(c) Conflicts of Interest, 1.09(b) & (c) Sexual Relationships and 1.16(d) Termination of Services. As an alternative to a hearing, all parties agreed to a settlement. The Maryland Chapter recommended the following immediate sanctions, which were approved by the National Executive Committee: Revocation of membership in NASW, publication of violations in the NASW News, the Maryland Social Worker and on the chapter and national website.
Caruana voluntarily surrendered her social work license and is no longer a member of NASW. As a result, the Executive Committee also approved the following contingent sanctions: Should Caruana choose to reapply for NASW membership, she must meet any requirements set by the Maryland Board of Social Work Examiners and must have her Maryland license restored. She must seek and complete individual counseling centered around the ethical violations. In addition, she must sign a waiver for her chosen counselor to speak to the Maryland Chapter Ethics Committee regarding whether or not it is believed that Caruana has a clear understanding of her ethical violation and ethical responsibilities.
The NASW National Board of Directors’ Executive Committee approved the sanctioning of Rick Ritter on February 10, 2010, for violations of the NASW Code of Ethics. The national board agreed with the Indiana Chapter’s findings that Ritter violated standards 1.01 Commitment to Clients, 1.06 Conflicts of Interest, 1.09 Sexual Relationships, 1.10 Physical Contact, 4.04 Dishonesty, Fraud and Deception and 4.06 Misrepresentation. The chapter recommended monthly supervision for a minimum of one year to address Ritter’s therapeutic relationship with clients, particularly as it relates to boundary setting. Ritter was also required to secure additional training amounting to 12 continuing education hours on ethics and boundary-setting in the next two years. Ritter chose not to participate in the professional review process, nor comply with the corrective action recommendations.
The NASW Executive Committee ordered the following: suspension of membership until such time that Ritter completes the recommended corrective actions, that Ritter’s name be published in the NASW News Sanctions in Force List and that the findings be submitted to the Indiana Health Professionals Bureau.
The NASW National Board of Directors’ Executive Committee approved the sanctioning of Sara Lake for violations of the NASW Code of Ethics. The board agreed with the California Chapter findings that Lake violated standards 1.06 Conflicts of Interest and 1.09 Sexual Relationships by having an inappropriate relationship with a client. The chapter recommended that Lake take a course in professional ethics and engage in a minimum of twice-monthly ethics consultation for one year, with an approved social worker with experience in issues related to sexual misconduct, transference and countertransference in the therapy setting.
Lake declined to participate in the professional review process and canceled her membership in NASW. As a result, the Executive Committee ordered that Lake not be allowed to reapply for membership until such time that the recommended corrective actions are completed. The board also ordered that Lake’s name be published in the NASW News Sanction in Force List and notification of findings to the California state regulatory board and the Disciplinary Action Reporting System (DARS) administered by the Association of Social Work Boards.