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Ernest Ellender, PhD explains the disciplinary actions taken by the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists (LSBEP)

While uncomfortable to discuss, I figured it best to be open about this entire affair and get the truth out there before rumors and drama distract people from the more important positive content offered in This Is How We Heal from Painful Childhoods. Though the book is solid, genuine, and helpful for survivors of childhood and family traumas, the author (me) is as flawed an individual as any other human being!

lsbep disciplinary action for ernest ellender phd

As much as I would love to pretend that I have my act entirely together and present a squeaky clean image of therapist... that is simply not me! I have always been attracted to intense activities and exciting adventures, like challenging sports (water skiing, martial arts, swimming), traveling far and abroad, and partaking of flavorful foods and enjoyable substance. Much of my extended family has struggled with various substance abuse, suggesting that I have the genes for obsessive and risky behaviors, which makes good sense in my case.

As much as my friends and I got into trouble growing up, we followed one perpetual ethical rule... don't hurt other people. If you want to drink yourself into blackout drunk territory, then go ahead, drink up, kill some brain cells... but don't start fights or hurt someone else while doing your thing. My close friends and I have always followed that rule, which has maintained a clear conscience for me that remains soothing today.

Mea Culpa - What I did wrong...

While resisting any urge to play the Victim card, I will first boldly declare here the parts of this drama that I am wholly accountable for. These are the things that I confess to have done, no matter how embarrassing!

  • DUI in 2017

  • Failed to report DUI to LSBEP for license renewal

  • Engaged in questionable business relationship with woman met online

  • Failed to manage professional risk by not getting signed informed consent form (written consent instead of verbal consent that can be disputed)

  • Dated women who were physically attractive, but devoid of personal substance, stability, or integrity

That is the list of my risky, questionable (or stupid) behaviors. I will now briefly explain each one, along with the consequences (and life lessons) I experienced.

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Don't do this...

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)

I was on a first date and was pulled over on my way home after drinking too much to responsibly drive home. Consequences:

  • Pre-trial intervention program for first-time offenders

  • 2 years probation

  • Roughly $5K in legal and related expenses

  • Life lesson: The MADD program was impressive, and these mothers forever impressed upon me the potential traumas that can occur when citizens drive while intoxicated. Painful lesson learned! Also, legal entanglements are expensive and not fun...

Failure to report DUI to LSBEP

When my attorney explained that successful completion of the DUI (DWI) pre-trial intervention program means that the DUI would be on my record, I thought that I would therefore not have to report the entire event to the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists (LSBEP)... which was entirely incorrect! Regardless of the outcome of the legal matter, the arrest alone was supposed to be reported.

 

Many professions like psychologists, medical doctors, and attorneys are held to certain standards by the licensing boards for each profession. Certain illegal and unethical behaviors by any of these professionals are policed by state governmental bureaucracies that can punish the professional by suspending or revoking the professional's license to conduct business.

Consequences:

  • As part of a Consent Agreement with the LSBEP, I agreed to a 2-year suspension of my license. This suspension was also part of the larger LSBEP investigation of the civil court case brought against me (described below).

  • Roughly $13K in legal fees and fees paid to the LSBEP for their investigation expenditures

The Critical 'Doctor-Patient' Relationship

Of all the mistakes I have made in my life, this is the one that has brought on the most excruciating and devastating consequences... if you're gonna engage in a relationship of any sort with anyone, it is simply safer to have it all in writing!

While dating via online dating websites, I met a woman who wanted to date, but since she lived in Las Vegas, I was not interested. Months later, she contacted me online to request help with a custody evaluation report that was written about her. I offered her assistance in a friendly fashion of offering free information about this psychology-related matter. She insisted that she pay me, which I agreed to... after clarifying that in no way, shape, or form could our 'business' relationship be a doctor-patient relationship. We agreed completely that I could not be her psychologist in any fashion, and that this 'business' relationship was informal and offering her educational information only (not therapy or forensic psychological services). As an informal, educational, and even playful (lots of flirting) relationship, it was fine for several months until we met in person, hooked up (I succumbed to her advances, I freely admit)... and then she suddenly sued me!

*** The entire relationship was a questionable decision, to be sure, because it was a 'gray area' situation in that we were discussing psychology-related issues, but not as doctor-patient. I reasoned that it was acceptable because she verbally clarified that she, as a responsible adult, understood the entire situation because she had been in much therapy before, and she understood such legal concepts. But this woman failed to share a few bits of critical information with me, such as:

  • She is a 'shakedown artist' who is practiced at entangling with professionals (attorneys, doctors, psychologists, etc.) and people she believes to be wealthy, and then suing them for some form of malpractice or personal injury.

  • She has a history of using the court system to extort money from her victims.

  • Her child was removed from her custody for severe neglect and abuse.

  • She is practiced at staging 'domestic violence' scenarios  in order to get the legal upper hand on her victims.

So, in summary, I engaged in a questionable relationship... with a con artist! It was the absolute worst-case scenario that I could possibly imagine... which led to the absolute worst-case consequences that I could have ever imagined.

Consequences:

  • 3-years (sealed) civil court case.

  • Public humiliation of being accused of malpractice and sexual impropriety.

  • The loss of my license to practice as a psychologist for 2 years.

  • Financial devastation... the loss of my life's savings throughout the lengthy civil court case and inability to practice my profession as a clinical psychologist.

  • The need to transition into a new line of work to earn income.

ALL OF THIS COULD HAVE BEEN AVOIDED WITH ONE THING... a signature instead of verbal consent for the parameters of our 'business' relationship! I trusted her as a human being, not realizing that she was a con artist who was successful specifically because she counted on people trusting her. She gave me verbal informed consent, and then she lied her ass off on the stand in the civil trial. To be clear, she perjured herself repeatedly in my case and other similar court cases in which she sued other victims like me. Since my court case concluded in 2022, she has struck again, this time suing a 62 year-old man near Las Vegas in 2023.

An inconvenient ex-girlfriend... or 2...

As though my legal and professional issues were not sufficiently traumatizing, an ex-girlfriend apparently went crazy (6 months after we stopped dating) and decided to do everything she could to destroy me, my family, and everything I possess.

Part of what made me an excellent therapist was my empathy towards and comfort with 'crazy' people. In my professional life, it was very helpful to be patient with people struggling with many things in their life. Unfortunately, in my personal dating life, it has been disastrous to couple with women who turned out to be unstable, professional 'victims'. After much therapy for myself, as well as a wonderful and stable current relationship, I now understand that I had great intentions, but was grossly mistaken when selecting 'diamonds in the rough' to date. Several of my past girlfriends were indeed physically attractive, which speaks to my shallow male nature. Unfortunately with these women, we simply did not have much in common in that my profession (of helping other people) was central to my life, whereas the women I dated did not take their jobs seriously. In fact, they were not ambitious people at all. They seemed to be comfortable with just 'getting by' in life... which is a perfectly fine way to navigate this life if you find a mate who wants to do the same!

About 6 months after breaking up with a girlfriend in 2022 (the same year as the civil court case), she seems to have gone crazy and began making insane accusations against me, as well as against my family, friends, and other local businessmen. As her accusations expanded, I had to eventually get an attorney to do some investigating and defense work. We found out that her family friend (with whom she had been living for free) kicked her out of her home when my ex-gf became too "erratic and unstable". We also found out that she sued the Houma Police Department, that she had changed her accusations to eventually include murder, serial sexual assaults, numerous conspiracies with local businesses and politicians, and many other stories.

As insane as the accusations were, she just kept making new and bigger ones until I finally filed my own civil lawsuit for "defamation" and "false light." The lawsuit finally led to a peaceful silence during which she ceased contacting my friends, family, and coworkers. Though her accusations were obviously insane, they were also embarrassing and threatening enough to cost me reputational damage, as well as several friendships and much personal distress. 

Why would she do this? I believe that she started drinking & drugging again (as she had done before our relationship), which led to mental health issues for her. That is the most generous hypothesis I can offer. In reality, I believe that she felt rejected when I broke up with her after 2.5 years of dating, and she absolutely refused to acknowledge any personal accountability for the destruction of our relationship from any of her behaviors. In her mind, I simply had to be the problem, the aggressor, the bad guy... so that she could be the victim. While we dated, she had explained to me on numerous occasions how she had learned in her elite women's college in California about how women have been victimized by men throughout the history of mankind. Months after we broke up, she leaned hard into that narrative, which meant that I had to be a man-monster of some sort!

That is the best guess I can come up with to explain her actions. "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned"... I have unfortunately experienced that saying in a terrible and (emotionally, financially, psychologically) excruciating fashion. I understand how Jonny Depp must have felt on the witness stand in court!

As insane as her accusations were, I still felt intensely distressed that they would lead people to distrust me or look at me with doubt. While it is impossible to 'prove' that you did not do certain things, the best I could think of was to take a polygraph (lie detector) test so that my friends and anyone questioning the situation could have something solid to consider. I passed the polygraph entirely, FYI... and I will happily share the results with anyone who questions my story versus my ex-gf's story!

What's next?!

LIFE COACHING: It is highly questionable that I will ever practice clinical psychology again, even if the LSBEP allows it! I have simply become disillusioned with much of the field of psychology and its bureaucracies. Instead, I have gravitated toward the field of Life Coaching (and more specifically Trauma Coaching), which offers significantly more freedom with less bureaucratic entanglements (don't have to deal with insurance companies, licensing board, EMR, etc.). This means that my clients and I can get straight to the business of achieving their goals. Efficient, straightforward, ambitious, and less formal... much more my style!

AUTHOR: While it took me over 7 years to complete my first book, I'm certain I write my second book in 2-3 years! My first book entitled "This Is How We Heal From Painful Childhoods" is on an extremely complex topic that took half a decade to get straight as I refined the curriculum with my hardworking therapy clients over the years. My next book will not be such a crazy project, but I hope it will be as helpful to others as the first book! I definitely enjoy writing, and even more, I relish the thought that my words may help thousands of families across the world heal from generations of their family traumas.

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