In May 2011, the Oregon Board of Licensed Professional Counselors and Therapists revoked the license of counselor Robert D. Massena for engaging in sexual acts with a client; by failing to act with the highest standards of professional integrity and competence; by continuing to practice counseling when his professional judgment was adversely affected by his own personal and professional problems and by disclosing confidential information about other clients without written consent. The Board’s order addresses Massena’s treatment of a married couple he counseled from late 2005 to early 2009 and states, among other things:
- Massena shared information about his own sexual abuse as a young boy; his belief that his wife was having an affair with another man; his belief that he was not the father of one of his children.
- Talked to the husband and wife about a civil lawsuit that was filed against him by the husband of another couple who sued him for interfering in their marriage and encouraged the wife to divorce the husband (his insurance company ultimately settled the suit).
- Occasionally talked to the husband and wife about other clients’ problems and introduced the wife to other clients counseling with him either immediately before or after the wife’s sessions.
- Expressed his anger and frustration to the wife about his in-laws’ religious views.
- Suggested to the wife that she “separate herself” sexually from the husband, which resulted in the husband sleeping on the couch and the led their children to believe they were about to divorce.
- Told the wife during a counseling session that he “bet she had gorgeous breasts,” advised her to go home, undress and look at her breasts in the mirror to see if she agreed.
- Advised the wife later in their therapeutic relationship that she was ready for “deeper therapy” and told her that women in his women’s group would remove their blouses and bras during group counseling sessions and discuss their sexual problems; he told her their sessions would need to become more frequent and longer. During a later session, he told her to remove her blouse and bra during session “in order to improve her self esteem” and she did.
- In a session a week later, the wife again removed her blouse and bra and Massena exposed his penis to her, drew and imaginary line between his penis and her pubic area and advised her that “This can’t go in there.” Massena advised the wife that she “missed some sexual growth” during her youth. These kinds of session continued and in one session, Massena had the wife fondle his penis and help him masturbate into a tissue, then explained that the episode triggered thoughts of his sexual abuse as a youth by an older woman.
- This “deeper therapy” continued, with Massena telling the wife that performing oral sex on him would “instill value” in her and persuading her to perform oral sex on him in three sessions.
Massena denied all allegations against him but the administrative law judge presiding over the case found the couples’ testimony and corroborating evidence more convincing that Massena’s denials.
Source: Final Order Revoking License in the Matter of Robert D. Massena, Agency Case No. 2010-010, OAH Case No. 1001684, DOJ Case No. 108001-GB0223-10, Before the Oregon Board of Licensed Professional Counselors and Therapists.