Psych Crime Reporter

December 19, 2013

Counselor Travis Waits surrenders after sexual conduct with client

Filed under: Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 1:18 pm

Former Rolling Hills Community Church pastor Travis Waits has been barred from practicing as a licensed professional counselor and marriage and family therapist in the state of Oregon.

The Oregon Board of Licensed Professional Counselors and Therapists announced the ruling on March 5.

The board found that Waits, along with two individuals from Portland and one from Stayton, had violated the traditional code of ethics expected of licensed practitioners. Waits was alleged to have engaged in a sexual relationship with a former client, and was also charged with “disclosing confidential information about one client to another,” the board reported. Waits faced further accusations of improperly safeguarding confidential electronic information, abusing alcohol and “providing services outside his field of expertise.”

Waits was further criticized for the sexual nature of his relationship with two women who sought counseling for past sexual abuse.

The board issued a Notice of Proposed Discipline on Sept. 13, 2012, which proposed “to revoke the professional counseling (LPC) and marriage and family therapy (LMFT) licenses of Travis Waits.”

Faced with these charges, Waits surrendered his licenses and is permanently barred from practicing as a therapist in the state of Oregon.

The board is an Oregon state agency whose stated purpose is to protect consumers through enforcement of licensing requirements for professional counselors and therapists. The board maintains a code of ethics for state-licensed counselors and therapists and investigates complaints against practitioners.

The board’s executive director, Becky Eklund, confirmed that no fine had been issued to Waits.

According to the board’s notice of intent to revoke Waits’ license, Waits violated the licensee code of ethics, which prohibits sexual relationships between therapist and clients within three years of counseling.

Records show Waits was a pastor at Rolling Hills Community Church from March 2007 until his resignation in March 2011, when he disclosed he had carried on a sexual relationship with a female congregant who had also been his client in his private marriage counseling practice in 2009.

Waits reportedly began an extramarital affair with the woman, identified in board documents as “Client A,” while working with her through the church in August 2010.

Both Waits and his client were married during their on-again, off-again sexual relationship, which ended for good in late summer 2011, according to Waits.

Through his private practice, Waits began counseling a woman identified by the board as Client B in July 2010. After regular weekly sessions, including 20 with Client B’s husband, Waits allegedly shared inappropriate personal information about himself, detailed as admissions of his own personal struggles with anxiety, as well as his past infidelity. Waits was accused of flirting with Client B during this time, both in counseling sessions and when he encountered her socially. The board alleged that Waits’ advice to Client B became increasingly sexual in nature, and Client B claimed she confronted Waits regarding some of the chat messages and emails they exchanged outside of counseling sessions. When the woman told Waits she wished to stop seeing him as a therapist, he reportedly warned her that seeing another therapist would cause her psychological harm.

Waits also told Client B that Client A, an acquaintance of hers, had sought counseling from him for similar issues. He advised the two women to speak with each other, and it was then that Client B found about Client A’s affair with Waits, at which point Client B stopped seeing Waits as a therapist.

Waits was also charged with giving Client B access to client emails on two occasions when he asked her to install anonymous blogging software on his work computer.

The board found that Waits was impaired when he provided counseling services. Waits reported he was often drunk when he exchanged sexually-charged emails with Client A, and that he was also periodically under the influence of powerful prescription medication and took on too large a caseload by seeing around 34 clients each week.

Reached for comment, Waits confirmed that he closed his Tualatin-based private counseling business in 2012.

“I made some incredibly hurtful choices a few years ago, that deeply wounded the trust of my family and church community,” Waits said. “My wife and family have forgiven me for my moral failure, and we are rebuilding our lives together. I’ve had the help of some very caring counselors that have, and are, helping me in my recovery.”

On his own website, Waits responded to the charges against him by stating, “My title now is just Travis. Never again will I allow the position or title to sway me away from who I am.”

But in a blog post dated Feb. 18, Waits explained his motivation in creating the website traviswaits.com was to “set the record straight.” He addressed visitors who might be “one of the people maliciously slandering my name in your ignorance” or “a board member protecting the public in your lofty Oregon Board of Licensed Professional Counselors and Therapist chair,” writing, “You cannot harm me, you have no power over me, you mean nothing to me.”

Source: Sandra Sorenson, “Therapist faces ethics charges,” The Times (Tigard, Oregon), March 14, 2013.

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4 Comments »

  1. Dear psych crime reporter, I am intrigued with your site. You have put a lot of effort into maligning others, with little reciprocal dialogue of conversation. Let me offer you some actual facts, since you have written your post about me:

    Unfortunately this is not news, all it is, like most news today, is slander and liable. Allegations are simply that, allegations. Nothing in any of the state boards reports is my original language, though they like to write it that way. I was never interviewed once by the state board investigator. My attorney was clear with me that the state boards agenda was to make an example of me because the false complaint was the ‘worst kind’… that they were not willing to hear my side of the story. When a complaint from a client is of the worst kind, they believe the client, not the professional. Sad. There is no recourse in these situations. The state boards liable and slander, and their publishing their allegations on the internet, again, never proven… and no due process opportunity to ever refute them. (So much for being a community of therapists that support healing and change…) made it impossible for me to continue operating my business in the Tualatin community. To be clear, I never had a sexual relationship with a former client, current client, nor any client, .

    This reporter, as well, needed a story to write because she had nothing else to do, and because some member of the Rolling Hills “restoration team” decided they wanted to send around copies of the state boards allegations all over the community, including colleagues of mine. They chose to believe falsehoods, lies, and out of their own self righteousness made reports to the state board that were completely untrue. I have no respect for the leadership at Rolling Hills Community Church. They showed their true colors, only concerned about image management and damage control to their budget.

    All involved in this process at RHCC should be ashamed. I’m sad for those that say they were fellow (now former) colleagues of mine both in the ministry at Rolling Hills Community Church, and therapists and counselors. They have each shown their true colors, as hypocrites for giving lip service to being restorative and redemptive…and as a result have missed being part of the larger story of grace and transformation. This is a great example of a church protecting its backside instead of practicing what it preaches, not to mention the therapist community hanging one of their own.

    Comment by Travis Waits — January 8, 2014 @ 11:57 pm | Reply

    • Dear Mr. Waits,

      You are correct: Psych Crime Reporter does not engage in “reciprocal dialog.”

      When you consider how few sites and authorities there are out there who are telling the truth about psychiatric drugs, psychiatric treatment and crime and fraud in the field of mental health, it’s pretty small compared to the sites, authorities, etc. who have, for 200 years, been promoting how wonderful it all is.

      We have no intention of balancing our position with “reciprocal dialog.” By doing what we do, we are providing the balance that has been missing for a long time.

      I find it hard to believe what you say, Mr. Waits: You state that the Board “was not willing to hear your side of the story.” In my years of experience in this area, the licensee is always given an opportunity to answer the complaint before the Board proceeds with its investigation. You make it sound like you were sentenced without a trial and, frankly, I don’t buy it. It sounds like your lawyer just wasn’t up to the task of defending you.

      If you really feel the Board has slandered you or committed libel, then you might have the grounds of a lawsuit against them.

      We just re-post news items or summarize board disciplinary orders.

      Sue

      Comment by Psych Crime Reporter — January 15, 2014 @ 7:55 pm | Reply

      • Thank you for your reply. Your service is providing an editorial opinion that is far from balancing out any opposing views you have. I imagine in some areas, we may even have common ground.

        However, if you we’re aware of the administrative rules and statutes that govern licensing boards in the counseling profession, then you would know that written into those statutes is the inability to sue them for libel or slander. You would also know that boards are not mandated by those same statutes to follow any due process. Boards proceed with their allegations and investigations all the time, with no bias or regards for its very licensees.

        Comment by Travis Waits — January 15, 2014 @ 8:23 pm

      • You’re welcome.

        I don’t claim to be conversant with the laws that govern the Boards but I have reviewed enough orders to have gleaned the idea that licensees get an opportunity to respond to the complaint. I suppose that’s true, however, about a licensee’s inability to sue the Board.

        In the end, you surrendered your license, so one can only conclude that the Board had sufficient evidence to suspend or revoke, had the charges gone to a hearing.

        Comment by Psych Crime Reporter — January 16, 2014 @ 7:58 pm


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