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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

June 20, 2018   |   Ithaca, NY

Opinion

Letter to the Editor: Former faculty member questions community response

For nearly twenty years I was the supervisor of the Tompkins County Outpatient Clinic, which provides treatment to individuals with serious psychiatric illness. Boundary issues are an everyday part of dealing with people who are very needy. The reason we chose our careers was to help people. In order to do that properly, we used a team approach as group supervision. That team approach helped support the maintenance of strong boundaries. Things as simple as an invite to a family Thanksgiving dinner from a client could provoke meaningful discussion. It appears that Ms. Collado never sought advice or supervision when she decided to have a relationship with a patient. While she may now dispute the nature of that relationship, the fact that she had one is not in dispute.

I had the great good fortune to be hired as a full time faculty member at Ithaca College for seven years. I taught counseling and social work, created five new courses and co-founded the counseling minor. I also supervised field placements for dozens of students. My move from providing treatment to teaching theory was an unexpected bonus.

The importance of boundaries was integrated into all my teaching of upper level courses. My hope is that my former students; social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists and other helpers hear my voice in their heads when they are tempted to go beyond the norm without consultation, based on their perceived need to help. I assume that Ms. Collado, while getting a PHD in psychology, had fully integrated these concepts. She knew that having any kind of relationship was wrong, which is why she kept it a secret. Any time along the way, she could have contacted the Center and asked for help. She chose not to.

As a therapist, there is no greater crime than having a sexual relationship with a client. Having a sexual relationship with an inpatient who is being treated for sexual abuse is shocking

Ms. Collado, while not accepting guilt, agreed to the facts of the case and accepted punishment. The prosecutor believed that there was enough evidence to file charges, so there had to be more to the case than just allegations. At the time Ms. Collado was a grown woman with a PHD. Do we accept her truth of the time or her current denials, now represented as allegations? What we cannot do, as we as a country have learned, is to blame the victim. I’ve heard “mental patient” used as a term to lessen the value of the victim statements. Treatment providers of the time describe the person as “truthful”, mental patient or not. Letters of support that blame this victim are to be viewed with contempt. Any attempt to make the perpetrator a victim should be viewed with suspicion.

From the time Ms. Collado applied for the position of President of Ithaca College until now, she has had the ability to inform the community of her past. She joined the search committee and the board in the deception. We encourage people to have open and honest relationships. Ms. Collado could have insisted on it.

If general knowledge of her conviction was a deal breaker last July, why is it OK now.? We hope people learn and change in response to the difficulties in their lives. President Collado’s maintenance of this secret appears to be a reflection of her actions in 2001. How can the college community move forward in a relationship with a
President who chooses to conceal such an important piece of information. Trust is based on honesty, which is sorely lacking in this case.

Terry Garahan, former faculty member