Rachel Bernstein, Anti Cult Movement Counselor now Faces Serious Allegations

By Debra Van Neste

Rachel Bernstein

The observation that she’s a good “therapist” or not is completely separate from her not following the law or ethics in making custody recommendations.  No matter how helpful she may be, it’s a violation of professional ethics to choose one parent over another unless you’re evaluated the whole system and evaluated the child. You also need to be uniquely qualified in custody matters and evaluations.  Having a license is not enough. This is just disturbing on many levels.  What others say in defense she is in the anti cult league “fighting the good fight” is completely irrelevant and biased.  This is a professional matter.

Rachel Bernstein, the cult counselor who attacked and smeared a mother who’s daughter committed suicide, is facing the loss of her license for allegedly passing judgment on the mental state of a woman to a court she never examined.

Here’s what she is accused of:

FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS . On or about May 2, 2018, M. S. filed a complaint with the Board, alleging that Respondent misused her license as a marriage and family therapist by writing a letter to the family court to include clinical observations about M. S. without ever seeing her as a client.

On or about May 13, 2013 and May 16, 2013, M.S. and her husband, J.S., exchanged emails with Respondent to enlist her assistance with an issue involving J.S.‘s mother, S.D., calling her son at his office and bullying and upsetting him. On or about May 16, 2013, M.S. and J.S. spoke with Respondent over the telephone about their concern about S.D. The initials of individuals referenced in this Accusation are used to protect their privacy. However, upon a timely and proper request for discovery from Respondent, Complainant will provide discovery documents which reveal their identities.

On March 27, 2014, Respondent was copied on an email exchange with S.D. in which M.S. and J.S. encouraged S.D. to pursue therapy, and indicated they did not want to be involved in therapy sessions with S.D.

While Respondent did provide therapy to J.S., she never provided therapy to M.S. At the time of the only telephone call in which Respondent spoke with M. S., her children had not been born yet. Furthermore, Respondent never met M.S. in person or observed M.S. with her children.

M.S. and J.S. became embroiled in a divorce and custody case involving their two young children, who were the ages of 13 months and three years. On or about April 16, 2018, Respondent wrote a letter to the court for J.S., in connection with his petition for change of custody, in which she stated that M.S. was a “narcissist/emotional abuser”, a “controller”, and someone who is likely to make up “false allegations”. Respondent also claimed to have “specialized” experience with narcissistic persons and manipulators, which allowed her to immediately recognize M. S. as narcissistic. Respondent opined that M.S. was at risk of making false allegations, perpetrating PAS (Parental Alienation Syndrome), and that J.S. needed legal protection against M. S.

Respondent did not obtain M.S.’s consent to provide the letter dated April 16, 2018 to the court. M.S. was shocked to learn of Respondent’s letter with its clinical observations and diagnosis of her as narcissistic based upon their limited communications three or four years ago, and without having met or treated her.

During an interview with the Board’s investigator, M.S.’s attorney stated that Respondent’s letter was stricken from the record by the family law court in the couple’s custody dispute. In addition, M.S. ‘s attorney indicated that, at the time Respondent submitted the Jetter for J.S. with the court, there was an open Department and Children of Family Services investigation of J.S. for child abuse, and J.S. was limited to weekly supervised visits of three hours with his children.

When interviewed by the Board’s investigator, Respondent stated that M.S. was never her client, but because of her “specialized expertise”, she recognized that M.S. was narcissistic.

Respondent did not provide any information to support her claim she had specialized experience, education or training in narcissistic disorders. Furthermore, Respondent claimed that M.S. was harassing her and her children with process servers issuing a subpoena. Respondent contended that her letter referenced narcissistic characteristics in general, but that she had not diagnosed M.S. with narcissism and had not made any custody recommendations.

FIRST CAUSE FOR DISCIPLINE: (Incompetence in the Performance of Marriage and Family Therapy)

Respondent is subject to disciplinary action under Code section 4982, subdivision (d), on the grounds of incompetence in that Respondent: a. Showed that she lacked general knowledge about informed consent and confidentiality, which are primary tenets of the practice of marriage and family law. Respondent violated M.S. ‘s confidentiality as a potential client and/or collateral family member, by disclosing confidential information about M.S. in the April 2018 letter she submitted to the family law court in connection with J.S.’s petition for change of custody, without first obtaining M.S. ‘s consent and a signed Written authorization/release from M.S.

b. Wrote and provided a letter to the court expressing an expert opinion in a child custody dispute between M.S. and J.S., diagnosing M.S. as narcissistic, manipulative, abusive and controlling, without ever having met or provided therapeutic services to M.S., and without considering J.S.’s motives for having Respondent write the letter.

c. Provided expert opinions in the family law case involving M.S. and J.S. without considering the ramifications of those opinions, including that J.S. was harassing Respondent by attempting to serve a subpoena on her, which showed that she lacked the necessary training and experience to do so.

d. Failed to consider the potential damage the opinions in her April 2018 letter could have on J.S., M.S. and their relationship with their children, and opined about the safety of M.S. with her children, without completing an evaluation of the family in the.context of the custody case.

e. Held herself out as having specialized expertise in diagnosing narcissism to support her diagnosis of M.S. as narcissistic, without meeting M.S. or conducting an evaluation of M.S., which did not conform to standard therapy practices for assessment and diagnosis. 18. Complainant refers to and hereby expressly incorporates the allegations contained within paragraphs 9-16, above, as through fully set forth herein.

SECOND CAUSE FOR DISCIPLINE (Gross Negligence)

19. Respondent is subject to disciplinary action under Code section 4982, subdivision (d), on the grounds of gross negligence in that Respondent: a. Violated M.S. ‘s confidentiality as a potential client and/or collateral family member, by disclosing confidential information about M.S. in the April 2018 letter she submitted to the family law court in connection with J.S.’s petition for change of custody, without first obtaining M.S. ‘s consent and a signed written authorization/ release from M.S. b. Wrote and provided a letter to the court expressing an expert opinion in a child custody dispute between M.S. and J.S., diagnosing M.S. as narcissistic, manipulative and controlling, without ever having met or provided therapeutic services to M.S., and without considering J.S. ‘s motives for having Respondent write the letter. c. Provided expert opinions in the family law case involving M.S. and J.S. without considering the ramifications of those opinions, including that M.S. was harassing Respondent by attempting to serve a subpoena on her, which showed that she lacked the necessary training and experience to do so. d. Failed to consider the potential damage the opinions in her April 2018 letter to the court would have on J.S., M.S. and their relationship with their children, and opined about the safety of M.S. with her children, without completing an evaluation of the family in the context of the custody case. e. Held herself out as having specialized expertise in diagnosing narcissism to support her diagnosis of M.S. as narcissistic, without meeting M.S. or conducting an evaluation of M.S., which did not conform to standard practices for assessment and diagnosis.

Complainant refers to and hereby expressly incorporates the allegations contained within paragraphs 9- 16, above, as through fully set forth herein.

THIRD CAUSE FOR DISCIPLINE (Failure to Maintain Confidentiality)
Respondent is subject to disciplinary action under Code section 4982, subdivision (m), in that she violated the confidentiality of M.S., who was a potential client, and a family member of two of Respondent’s clients, by failing to obtain M.S.’s informed consent and a written release before providing the April 2018 letter to the family law court, and by releasing M.S.’s telephone and email address without M.S. ‘s authorization.

Complainant refers to and hereby expressly incorporates the allegations contained within paragraphs 9-16, above, as through fully set forth herein.

FOURTH CAUSE FOR DISCIPLINE (Practicing Outside the Scope of Ones’ Practice and Experience)

Respondent is subject to disciplinary action under Code sections 4982, subdivisions (I) and (s), in conjunction with California Code of Regulations, Title 16, section 1845, in that she: a. Si.1bmitted a letter to a family law court expressing an expert opinion in a child custody dispute which diagnosed M.S. as narcissistic, without having specialized education or experience in narcissistic disorders, and without meeting with M.S. or conducting an evaluation of M.S. b. Provided expert opinions in a family law court case without considering the ramifications of those opinions, including that J.S. was harassing her by attempting to serve a subpoena on her, which showed that she lacked the necessary training and experience ·to do so. c. Opined about the safety of M.S. with her children, without completing an evaluation of the family in the context of the custody case and without the expertise to do so.
Complainant refers to and hereby expressly incorporates the allegations contained within paragraphs 9-16, above, as through fully set forth herein.

FIFTH CAUSE FOR DISCIPLINE (Violating Statutes and Regulations)

Respondent is subject to disciplinary action under sections 4982, subdivision (e), on the grounds of unprofessional conduct, in that Respondent violated statutes and regulations adopted by the Board, as more particularly set forth in paragraphs 9-16 above, which are incorporated here. by this reference, as follows: a. Section 4982, subdivision ( d): Respondent was incompetent in the performance of marriage and family therapy; b. Section 4982, subdivision (d): Respondent’s acts and omissions fell sufficiently below the standard of conduct of the profession as to constitute gross negligence; c. Section 4982, subdivision (e):

Respondent violated provisions of the Code and regulations adopted by the Board; d. Section 4982, subdivisions (!) and ( s): Respondent performed, or held herself out as being able to perform professional services beyond the scope of  her competence, as established by her education, training, or experience; and f. California Code of Regulations, Title 16, section 1845: Respondent acted · unprofessionally as defined in California Code of Regulations, Title 16, section 1845. WHEREFORE, Complainant requests that a hearing be held on the matters herein alleged, and that following the hearing, the Board of Behavioral Sciences issue a decision: 1. Revoking or suspending Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist License Number LMFT 28267, issued to Rachel Anne Bernstein.