A BC psychiatrist has permanently revoked his medical license in response to a complaint about his treatment of a PTSD patient participating in a clinical trial of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, CBC News has learned.
Donna Dreyer of Cortez Island resigned irrevocably on Aug. 1 and received a formal reprimand after admitting to unprofessional conduct with a female patient, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC (CPSBC) said in a letter to the patient.
The disciplinary action has not yet been released, but the letter said Dreyer’s unprofessional conduct included a conflict of interest, violation of boundaries and continuing a therapeutic relationship when Dreyer knew her husband and research partner Richard Jensen was having sex with a patient.
The sponsor of the clinical trial, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychological Research (MAPS), has: He described Jensen’s actions as sexual assault. The patient filed a sexual assault complaint with police, and in 2022 Quadra Island RCMP confirmed they had recommended unspecified criminal charges, but said Crown prosecutors had not pursued them.
Videos taken during treatment sessions with a patient in the clinical trial in 2015 show Drer and Jensen hugging, spooning, blindfolding and poking the visibly distressed woman. At one point, Jensen suggests that he “lie down and spread your legs.” in another, she lies on top of him as he moans in agony.
CBC agreed not to name the patient because of the sensitive nature of the complaint, but it has asked the Health Professions Review Board to review the college’s case.
The patient said she strongly disagreed with the wording in the college’s reprimand, which said Jensen “had a sexual relationship” with her.
“There is no agreement between the patient and the therapist,” the patient told CBC in an email.
“Framing sexual assault as ‘sexual intercourse’ promotes victim guilt and assumes consent in a context where consent is impossible.”
Jensen has not denied having sex with the patient, but claims it was consensual.
The patient also questions the college’s decision to settle the complaint with Dreher through a settlement agreement, and says he has not received an investigation report detailing why the college’s inquiry committee handled the complaint the way it did.
“They care more about protecting the doctor’s reputation than protecting the patient from rape,” he said.
In a written statement, a college spokeswoman said public notice of the disciplinary action is expected to be posted online soon.
The college said officials could not comment on Jensen’s actions because he is not registered with the CPSBC, and could not comment further on the case now that it is being reviewed by the Health Professions Council.
Drer did not respond to requests for comment.
The sexual harassment lawsuit was settled out of court
The complaint against Drer was originally filed in 2018 and has now taken more than five years to resolve.
The patient said he entered the trial as a last-ditch effort to treat severe post-traumatic stress disorder caused by past sexual abuse and violence.
Dreyer and Jensen were working as MAPS sub-investigators in a Health Canada-approved phase II clinical trial investigating the safety of MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy or mol, for the treatment of PTSD.
Jensen admitted to having sex with the patient after the trial sessions ended, but was still enrolled in the clinical trial.
In a 2018 lawsuit that has since been settled out of court, she alleged sexual harassment. In his response, Jensen claimed that the patient had manipulated him and started the meetings.
Because counseling and psychotherapy are not regulated in BC, there was no college or regulatory body that could investigate what happened or discipline Jensen.
However, the latest BC Clinical Counselors Association Standards of Practice make it clear that therapists who have sex with their clients are taking advantage of a power imbalance and committing sexual assault. The BC College of Psychologists has similar standards and clearly prohibits sex with research participants.
MAPS issued a statement in 2019 Calling Dreher and Jensen’s behavior with the patient unethical, it said it cut all ties with the couple and agreed to pay the patient $15,000 for therapy.
After video of the treatment sessions was released in 2022, MAPS announced it had launched a compliance review covering all of the couple’s work during the trial.
The organization has not yet responded to CBC News’ request for an update on the status of that review.
Dreyer previously served as a clinical associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of British Columbia. A UBC spokesperson confirmed Thursday that he is no longer at the university as of April 2022, but said he could not comment further due to privacy laws.
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