Ms Meulblok’s professional misconduct includes using ‘energy medicine’ treatment to touch his body, which she knew or should have known had no medical evidence. Ms Meulkblok twice touched him where he was experiencing pain – on the shoulder, back, chest and jaw – which she claimed could be caused by childhood trauma.
The two other counts of professional misconduct involve having an inappropriate intimate relationship with the patient and discussing him with her husband.
She admitted her feelings to Mr XY over a drink, after bumping into him coincidentally in October 2017.
They later agreed she would visit his home. Ms Meulblok stayed for around two hours and the pair held hands, embraced and kissed.
She told him their therapeutic relationship was over and that they couldn’t have sex until two years had passed.
At a further meeting in her consultation room, which he believed was a session but she did not, the pair kissed and embraced on the patient couch.
“Ms Meulblok sat on Mr XY’s lap, straddled him and kissed him while he was sitting on the patient couch. During this appointment she told him … that they were soul mates and how the regulations of her profession required that they had to wait for two years before they had sex,” the tribunal said.
The next month, after meeting frequently, Mr XY asked to end all contact with Ms Meulblok. She continued to get in touch over “matters of a personal and quasi-therapeutic nature”.
The psychologist also encouraged him to befriend her husband tried to recommence therapy in December 2017, but never tried to refer him to another therapist.
The tribunal said her conduct was seriously damaging and Mr XY considered that period to be “one of the most difficult and destabilising periods of his adult life, to the extent that when he sees or hears about Ms Meulblok at times makes him feel physically unwell”.
“The conduct caused serious and significant harm to Mr XY,” VCAT said.
The Psychology Board of Australia sought a two-year ban on Ms Meulblok registering as a health practitioner, which the tribunal agreed was appropriate.
“This does not mean that we consider it safe to register Ms Meulblok at the end of this period. If she applies to be registered in the future, it will be for the Board in its regulatory capacity to assess the application and make its own decision,” VCAT said in its judgement on Friday.
Ms Meulblok has not been registered for 17 months. Mr XY came forward in March 2018 and she decided against renewing her registration when it lapsed in December that year.
The tribunal said she took full responsibility for her conduct soon after being notified of the complaint.
“She expressed shame and regret for the damage it has caused to Mr XY, her family and her profession,” VCAT said.
There was no prior disciplinary history in her 18-year career as a psychologist, the tribunal said, and she had a local reputation as being a well-regarded psychologist.
Rachel is a breaking news reporter for The Age.