Psychologists in Family Court


Paul Reitman, Ph.D., L.P., F.A.C.F.E.

Let’s Get Honest! Blog

Absolutely Uncommon Analysis of Family –and “Conciliation” — Courts’ Operations, Practices, and History

Excerpts from: Credentialing and Schooling Psychologists (speaking of MN and the Grazzini-Rucki case)

[Section on Schools of Professional Psychology likely to be moved to a separate post.  It was added post-publication anyhow.. Until then, the post is about 11,000 words.  After it’s removed, closer to 8,000 words //LGH]

Fascinating (I think!) information on the matter of private, for-profit education as a major, flourishing form of investment, and the Minnesota School of Professional Psychology at Argosy University as part of this larger trend.

I have sustained an ongoing interest in the “Schools of Professional Psychology” ever since learning who was pushing for them in the late 1960s, in my state, and why.  (“Psychologists need doctorates too if they’re going to continue getting some R.E.S.P.E.C.T. — and proper income…ideally, like doctors get….” There seems to be a perpetual chip on the shoulder of too many in the field.. a professional trait…).  There seem parallels between the Argosy University situation and the Alliant International University (with California campuses, and having absorbed the California School of Professional Psychology, while also hosting a “non-entity” called “IVAT” (Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma) associated with Robert Geffner’s “FVSAI” (Family Violence and Sexual Assault Institute, a small nonprofit with Texas jurisdiction & California address).


Schools of Professional Psychology tend to prepare people as marriage/family therapists and custody evaluators, among other future career paths.  This gets interesting when the schools come in different religious types.  For example, there’s the Christian/religious/theological style:

Since 1965:  Fuller Seminary: School of Psychology:

Pioneering Integration and Excellence in Teaching, Training, and Research

Since 1965, Fuller’s School of Psychology has been creating a pioneer program integrating evangelical Christian faith and psychology. By placing strong theological study in the heart of psychology, you will become clinical psychologists, marriage and family therapists, and educators who are prepared to serve with integrated professionalism and practice.

The “History” page gives the inspiration and original financial backing information:

In 1961, psychologist John G. Finch delivered a series of lectures at Fuller Seminary on the theological and psychological dimensions of humankind. The vision he articulated, one that integrated the Christian faith with the field of psychology, sparked the idea for a School of Psychology at Fuller.With generous financial support from C. Davis and Annette Weyerhaeuser, further study and planning followed and, in 1964, the opening of the Pasadena Community Counseling Center initiated the first phase of the new program
(This being the 1960s, a class photo shows next, with rows of men in suits and ONE woman):

John G. Finch in the 1980s and again in the 1990s was accused of sexual improprieties with his clients, some of them married women.  Seattle Times (4/27/1992, “Communities”) article described in detail, including some incidents that began, it was claimed, as early as 1965 — about the time he was “inspiring” Fuller to get the School of Psychology started.  (Is this how some therapists who groom patients for sex get their stables of partners established? Is it why they went into the field? With the religious element, that’s not just professional, but professional and spiritual abuse.  “Caveat emptor.”

A (married) woman claimed to have met him at a Christian camp.  Separately (not in this article), a married man was in therapy with Finch while Finch, unknown to him, was having sex with the man’s wife, which she confessed to years later, but Finch, naturally, deflected accusations of having a romantic relationship with his patient’s wife.  The man then sued as “John Doe” for malpractice and outrage…

If the goal behind raising up more Christian psychologists and marriage therapists is indeed evangelizing and transforming the world through faith, perhaps a better means might be for the flocks of sheep to to quit the passive, “see-nothing-do-nothing” sheeplike behavior and remember they are human beings — and hold leadership accountable.  For leadership, we’d rather see a sermon than hear one,  and more might be open to the sermons if they weren’t seeing this type of behavior coming from the sermonizers.  In this case, it was primarily the women who continued reporting over the years and came forward, as I recall.

A prominent Pierce County psychologist has been charged by the state with violating his code of ethics by allegedly having sex with his clients, engaging in nude therapy and violating their confidences.

It is one of the most egregious cases ever taken to the board, say officials with the state Examining Board of Psychology, where the charges were filed last month. The board continues to receive complaints about the psychologist, who has been licensed in the state since 1965.

The charges, based on claims by six patients, say Gig Harbor therapist John Finch violated his code of ethics by having sex with clients, shared their private conversations with others and fostered their dependence on him.   Sex between patients and therapists is forbidden under state ethics law but is not a criminal offense. ….

Complaints were made against Finch 10 years ago, but were dropped by the state Department of Licensing – which at the time had jurisdiction over the licensing of psychologists – because the complainants were not deemed credible. But investigators remained suspicious.

“I believe Dr. Finch practices in a questionable and controversial manner,” said Ruth Palnick, who investigated the charges for the Department of Licensing in 1982, in documents filed at the time. “John Finch bears watching, but I really don’t feel we would get far with these witnesses.”

The psychology board has received 11 complaints against Finch, beginning in 1990, six of which are included in the statement of charges. They paint a portrait of a man who promoted himself as a Christian therapist and fostered such dependence by his patients that he persuaded them to remove their clothes and engage in sex with him.

It is only today that some of the women feel strong enough to talk about their experiences with Finch.

“The hardest thing is I’ve lived with this secret for 26 years, more than half of my life,” said Ineke Rouw, who met Finch in 1964 at a Bible conference in Bellingham. Active in a Christian church, Rouw began therapy with him soon thereafter and continued until 1987. She began to see Finch because of concerns about her inability to become pregnant.  [[And quit after confiding in another therapist….  He had sex with her while billing her for therapy, totaling from $20 – $30K over the years….Other lawsuits were filed, six women (“A through F”) came forward. At the time of “nude therapy” (sometimes involving sex with clients) he was ordained Methodist minister, founder of Fuller School of Psychology (it says) and married with children…  See rest of article.]]


I also took a sidelong look at the credentialing college of the psychologist in the Minnesota case who was also involved with the MSPP and Argosy, which credentialing (mill) got its own separate investigation by “Pro Publica” which tells us something about the fascination with having credentialing (more letters behind the name in addition to the degrees obtained) in contrast with the behavior of the credentialing organizations themselves, and just what it takes to become a Fellow or Diplomate of the one involved.  Argosy was large enough alone, but swallowed up by something even larger, which is where it gets interesting and as a comment on the cradle-to-career pipeline, as managed by those at the corporate/investment end of the ownership of, well, that pipeline.

I wrote this post rather quickly in late January, spruced it up some here, and hope it’s if nothing else, a little entertaining – and of course, illuminating.  Not my primary focus, though, these days…

Being who I am (Ms. Look-it-up) I learned about the original investors, two men formerly investment bankers at Lazard Freres & Company, (<== read the VERY interesting history for a refresher) and their sponsorship of a disgraced (including by whistleblowers) EDMC (Education Management Corporation), and more.

Before the end of this post, we’ll get the former Governor of Tennessee, Lamar Alexander, and some Goldman-Sachs, and I even see Cincinnati, Ohio’s “KnowledgeWorks” gets in there.  I can connect that to Minneapolis’ “GenerationNext” (which I was looking at last summer, along with certain major community foundations within MN, and in California) which is modeled after “StriveTogether” which is (if one continues clicking on logos and reading fine print at the bottom of web-pages) a “subsidiary” of KnowledgeWorks.”
Read the rest of this entry »

In addition, in the course of a forensic credentialing organization (American College of Forensic Examiners) which accounts for most of the initials below pertaining to a specific court-appointed psychologist ( Paul Reitman, Ph.D., L.P., F.A.C.F.E.) affecting two runaway teenaged girls, (recently found and being reunited with their father they ran away from, as “brainwashed” allegedly by their mother — now** in prison for felony parental interference, and with others who may have helped her ALSO being charged with felonies), there’s the Pro Publica/Frontline investigations of the credentialing outfit, AFCEI.k

(** In prison when post was first written.  Since then, she’s been released.  2/25/2016 post “Sandra Grazzini-Rucki Released:  From Million-Dollar Bail to Released on Own Recognizance“)

Later (not this post) the investor plunge into inter-net based for-profit college educations DOES overlap with the court-connected corporations, and with major community foundations across the country.  We are talking, the basic math of reproducible results with downloadable curricula, and much more, and what happens after people are run through the courses (or, degree programs), much the poorer financially (although the owners certainly aren’t), and not necessarily much better off professionallyor, which should be the public’s concern, ethically.

  • A topic of ongoing interest — possibly part of my “2016” blogging theme — why such high respect continues to be dedicated to the field of psychology, and what business court-appointed psychologists are involved in, in disputed custody cases.

Some girls ran away, their mother got jailed for it, and their father was subjected to extreme distress for not knowing where they were — after a court-appointed psychologists, Paul Reitman, PhD, LP, FACFE, determined that they’d not actually been abused — but brainwashed into  believing they were abused.  (Where have we heard THAT one before??? And, how many times?)


Here’s an informative (as to some of the timelines) Newsweek article, 11/21/2015, “Did the Missing Rucki Sisters Want to be Found?” by Max Kutner

…Having been a cop for 26 years, I have never seen anything like the obstruction, chaos and questionable decision making I have seen in this case,” Jeff Long, the police chief in Lakeville, Minnesota, where the Rucki family lived, wrote in May.

The Newsweek article also at least names the court-appointed psychologist who said the girls had been brainwashed into believing they were abused:  Paul Reitman, Ph.D., L.P., F.A.C.F.E. [some psychologists are more into multiple initials supporting their qualifications than others, but it is a tendency in the field overall, as well as continuing to borrow words from other disciplines, such as “forensic” to emphasize the scientific neutrality and objectivity of the field…. … … ]

Interesting from this site, how Dr. Reitman works with three other women only, two of who trained with him.  His specialties are listed in this order:

Forensic specialties include civil commitments of:

  • Mentally ill
  • Chemically dependent
  • Mentally ill and dangerous
  • Sexually dangerous
  • Sexually psychopathic persons

Paul also works in these areas:

  • Family Law
  • No Fault Law
  • Criminal Law
  • Workman’s Compensation
  • Wrongful Termination
  • Sexual Harassment
Family law not being his main area.  The “FACFE” stands for Fellow of the American College of Forensic Examiners,

What is a Forensic Examiner?

The term “forensic examiner” refers to a professional who performs an orderly analysis, investigation, inquiry, test, inspection, or examination in an attempt to obtain the truth and form an expert* opinion. Almost every scientific and technical field has a forensic application. A forensic examination refers to that part of a professional’s practice that is carried out to provide an expert* opinion.

*Note: Only a judge, under Rule 702, can qualify a professional as an “expert” in a given court case.

This brings up the whole field of obtaining credentials to assist one’s profession and inspire respect among potential (and current) clients, so what does it take (and mean) to become a Fellow?  Well, to be a Fellow, one must first obtain Diplomate status, for which:

Become a Diplomate Now!

By being a member in good standing and successfully completing one of ACFEI’s certifications, you have earned the opportunity to elevate your status to becoming a Diplomate and a Fellow of ACFEI.

. . Earn your way to Fellow upgrade once you are a Diplomate for 3 years

What are the requirements for Diplomate status?

» Be a member in good standing with ACFEI for at least two (2) years.

» Successfully complete one of ACFEI’s certifications.

» Have no felony convictions or ethical violations in the last ten (10) years,as well as not be under investigation by any legal, accounting, or licensing board.

» Agree to adhere to ACFEI’s Principles of Professional Practice.

» Have appropriate educational degrees from accredited universities and have five (5) years of relative experience in a forensic-related field.

» Pay the one-time processing fee of $250

See more at:

ProPublica apparently studied the ACFEI, I see a 2012 “No Forensic Background? No Problem” article, referring to a different field.  Check it out:

This is how I — a journalism graduate student with no background in forensics — became certified as a “Forensic Consultant” by one of the field’s largest professional groups.

One afternoon early last year, I punched in my credit card information, paid $495 to the American College of Forensic Examiners International Inc. and registered for an online course.

After about 90 minutes of video instruction, I took an exam on the institute’s web site, answering 100multiple choice questions, aided by several ACFEI study packets.

As soon as I finished the test, a screen popped up saying that I had passed, earning me an impressive-sounding credential that could help establish my qualifications to be an expert witness in criminal and civil trials.

For another $50, ACFEI mailed me a white lab coat after sending my certificate.

For the last two years, ProPublica and PBS “Frontline,” in concert with other news organizations, have looked in-depth at death investigation in America, finding a pervasive lack of national standards that begins in the autopsy room and ends in court.

Expert witnesses routinely sway trial verdicts with testimony about fingerprints, ballistics, hair and fiber analysis and more, but there are no national standards to measure their competency or ensure that what they say is valid. A landmark 2009 report by the National Academy of Sciences called this lack of standards one of the most pressing problems facing the criminal justice system.

Over the last two decades, ACFEI has emerged as one of the largest forensic credentialing organizations in the country….

Ever heard of the (in)famous credentialed cat  “Zoe D. Katz“?   That was ACFEI.  Read the rest of the article, including (to be fair) its owner’s response — only a judge can qualify an expert to testify in court.  Also at ProPublica and by Leah Bartos (April 11, 2014), I see that the ACFEI sold off its forensic accounting division.

The issue of credentialing as “quality control” in court-appointed experts is a live issue for me, at this time (although in a different field), and this quote expresses it well:

Shakeup at Forensic Credentialing OrgThe nation’s largest forensic expert college will sell its forensic accounting division, following a series of investigations by ProPublica and Frontline.”

The group, the American College of Forensic Examiners Institute (ACFEI), quietly put up for sale its forensic accounting division — one of its most prominent programs — prompting the unanimous resignation of that division’s entire advisory board. The volunteer accounting board oversaw ACFEI’s certification program for experts in financial investigations. …

“It’s up to the judge whether a witness is qualified as an expert — which is true —but when you take a look at the dockets, they’re jammed,” said Suzanne Hillman, a CPA who often testifies in financial fraud cases in the Washington, D.C. area. “You see certification, it gives you a little bit of a feeling of comfort.”

Hillman said she sought ACFEI’s Certified Forensic Accountant credential because, “I knew I had a wealth of experience and was seeking to add the credential that would, in essence, summarize that quickly.” Hillman also joined ACFEI’s forensic accounting board, but resigned at the end of 2013, similarly disillusioned with the organization.

Hillman has since removed Certified Forensic Accountant from her title.

She believes the lack of regulation on certifying experts damages the entire justice system. “To the judges, jurors and lawyers, I don’t think the message has totally gotten out to them that there’s problems with some of these credentials,” Hillman said

Maybe this post — and more like it — may help…

Anyway, here’s a bit more information from Paul Reitmann’s  fairly straightforward website, a wordpress blog:

Psychological assessments form the background of his practice and he is a very frequent presenter on the subject.

  • Presented at the 2006 annual Minnesota Judges’ Conference and spoke on a panel about wrongful sexual abuse allegations and how evaluations should be conducted.  Also on the panel were the Honorable Judge Robert Birnbaum and the Honorable Judge Gordon Schumaker from the appellate court.
  • Dr. Reitman teaches doctoral students and supervises clinical interns from the Minnesota School of Professional Psychology as well as Ph.D. clinical psychology students from the University of Minnesota in forensic practicum.

Court Appointed Psychologist to conduct assessments for the Sexually Dangerous Person Commitment, Sexual Psychopathic Commitment

  • For counties throughout Minnesota

The topic of expanding and developing the profession of psychology through forming independent schools of professional psychology is a major issue; I have some posts addressing the topic; see also “Nicholas J. Cummings” on this blog.


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