Crossing The Line: When Therapists Must Act

DENVER (CBS4) – The Westminster man suspected of planning an attack on children on Halloween and planning to kill the president told his therapist about his plans.

That therapist, Corey Candelaria, told authorities and his patient, Mitchell Kusick, was arrested.

There is a line when therapists must observe doctor-patient privilege and when they are legally required to contact police about a client.

According to police documents, Kusick, 20, told police he was planning on killing children on Halloween because he was looking for somewhere with a lot of people and he “could have the biggest impact.”

“I was just doing my job,” said Candelaria. “I appreciate it but I don’t think it’s necessary. I’m in the helping profession and my job is to try and help people.”

Carol O’Dowd, Vice President of the Colorado Association of Psychotherapists, said counselors have set guidelines for when they have to report their clients to authorities.

“We are required by law to report, we have a duty to report,” said O’Dowd. “There are three categories by law that we must report. That is homicide, suicide or certainly child abuse or child neglect.”

O’Dowd said that Kusick may talk about harming people while in sessions with his therapist. It’s when he showed a willingness to act on it that public safety took precedent over patient-client privilege.

“You have some strange thoughts at any time during the day. Do you act on them? It’s the intent,” said O’Dowd.

She also said that counselors should know what they have to report.

“Any mental health professional will sit down with our clients, go over what we are required to report. So they know. It’s an informed consent relationship. We’re up front about what we must report,” said O’Dowd.

Kusick was arrested on federal charges of threatening a president and state charges of interfering with staff, faculty or students of an educational institutions.

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