Newton Psychologist Gives Up His License

Boston Globe/July 19, 1985
By Judy Foreman

In the latest round of a complex and controversial case, Peter L. Gill of Newton has resigned as a licensed psychologist, his attorney said yesterday.

Gill's Wednesday resignation, which the state Board of Registration of Psychologists said yesterday may not be valid, came after the board's July 12 decision to dismiss an order to show cause against Gill, the head of what until recently was known as the Cambridge Psychotherapy Institute. That show cause order would have compelled Gill to prove why he should be allowed to continue practicing psychology following complaints of ethical misconduct filed more than a year ago by a former patient. The complaints alleged, among other things, that Gill was "effectively a guru -he is head of a sect."

To practice psychology in Massachusetts, one must have a valid license issued by the board.

Despite voting to dismiss the show cause order, psychology board member Herbert Hoffman said yesterday the board is still investigating complaints against Gill.

In May he founded a religious group called the Society of Natural Science, which has included under its umbrella the Cambridge Psychotherapy Institute, according to one of Gill's lawyers, Barbara Lenk. Both organizations are based at Gill's home on Hammond Street.

The religious group was "a natural outgrowth" of the psychotherapy group, Lenk explained yesterday for Gill, who declined to comment directly. "There was a gradual realization that these people had a common fundamental belief about man's place in the universe, and that that was a religious activity," she said.

By mid-September, Hoffman said, the board will either issue a more detailed and complete show cause order against Gill or drop the case against him.

The board's dismissal of the old show cause order stems from a decision several weeks ago by Sarah Luick, administrative magistrate for the Massachusetts Division of Administrative Law Appeals, before whom the complex case had been brought. Luick ruled the board's show cause order failed to substantiate with adequate detail the charges brought more than a year ago by a former patient, Wallace Ralston of Newton.

Ralston charged that Gill maintained a "dual relationship" with individuals who were both patients and practicing therapists at his institute.

In December 1984, Gill was expelled from the American Psychological Association following complaints by Ralston to that voluntary national professional group. Gill had tried to resign before the expulsion but the association did not accept his resignation because, as ethics officer David Mills noted at the time, it is explicit policy to refuse the resignation of "anybody under the scrutiny of the ethics committee so we can maintain jurisdiction."

In a similar vein, Hoffman said yesterday Gill's Massachusetts license "is in force until the expiration date," June 30, 1986. "A license may be terminated only under the following circumstances, I believe: nonpayment of fee, or termination by vote of the board," he said.

However, another of Gill's lawyers, Paul Gitlin, said yesterday that Gill's resignation is valid because the statute Hoffman cited "has nothing to do with the practitioner's authority to relinquish his license voluntarily."

Furthermore, said Gitlin, Gill has already spent about $10,000 defending himself in the Massachusetts case "and doesn't feel he can afford to make that kind of expenditure" any longer.

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