-- The Appellate Division has upheld the
New Jersey State Board of Psychological
Examiners’ suspension of a Clifton
psychologist for having an inappropriate
relationship with a patient that involved,
among other things, accompanying him to
a professional convention in the Bahamas
at his expense, and sharing his bed.
In its decision, a two-judge appellate panel
ruled that the Board of Psychological Examiners
acted appropriately in suspending the professional
license of behavioral therapist Samuelle
Klein-Von Reiche for a year and requiring
her to pay a total of $37,855 in penalties,
fees and costs.
are gratified by the Appellate Division’s
ruling,” said Thomas R. Calcagni,
acting Director of the Division of Consumer
Affairs. “This case is further confirmation
that when a health professional disregards
the code of professional conduct at the
jeopardy of the patient's well-being, he
or she will be held accountable."
In issuing its original Final Agency Decision
against Klein-Von Reiche in 2009, the Board
of Psychological Examiners found that the
therapist not only engaged in an “inappropriately
close, personal and social relationship”
with a patient, but had also misled the
Board and withheld information from it regarding
In its ruling today, the appellate panel
not only engaged in professional misconduct
… but she also exacerbated the situation
by her less than forthcoming response to
the Board’s initial inquiry, as well
as her ongoing effort to minimize the highly
inappropriate and unprofessional nature
of her conduct,” the panel wrote.
Klein–Von Reiche treated her 53-year-old
patient, a police officer with anger-management
issues and stress problems linked to troubled
relationships with his son and girlfriend,
for approximately a year. Treatment ended
September 7, 2004, ostensibly because the
patient had achieved his treatment goals,.
The Bahamas trip took place 12 days later,
and Klein-Von Reiche maintained the excursion
was not inappropriate because her professional
relationship with the patient had ended.
In responding to the Board of Psychological
Examiners, she characterized the episode
as no more than “a psychologist’s
social interaction with a former client.”
both an Administrative Law Judge who heard
the matter initially, and later the Board
of Psychological Examiners, held that Klein-Von
Reiche had exploited her patient’s
trust and dependence in her. In so doing,
they determined, the therapist had essentially
foreclosed her patient from ever returning
to her for further treatment.
appellate panel was also not swayed by assertions
from both Klein-Von Reiche and her patient
that there was no romantic or sexual activity
involved with the two sharing a bed in the
Bahamas, or that Klein-Von Reiche spent
much of her time at the beach and in the
hotel work-out room while he attended conference-related
Board’s finding that Klein-Von Reiche
exercised poor professional judgment and
dishonesty in responding to its initial
query about the matter are “adequately
supported by the record,” the appellate
panel wrote, and the Board “properly
exercised its authority” in suspending
and fining her.
terms of the discipline imposed by the Board,
Klein-Von Reiche’s professional license
is suspended for six months, with an additional
six months’ suspension stayed pending
her compliance with certain conditions.
completion of the six months’ active
suspension, Klein-Von Reiche can petition
the Board for reinstatement subject to the
condition that a licensed New Jersey psychologist
provides supervision of her practice for
at least a year.
its decision yesterday, the Appellate Division
granted Klein-Von Reiche's emergent request
to stay her suspension pending review of
a motion that her attorney is expected to
file on Sept. 7.
Attorney General Siobhan B. Krier, of the
Professional Boards Prosecution Section,
prosecuted the case and handled the appeal
on behalf of the Board.