Virginia mental health professional takes psychedelics with client

Virginia mental health professional takes psychedelics with client

All details in our health safety articles come from publicly available final orders, consent orders, suspension orders, and other documents from the Virginia Department of Health Professionals. For more information, see the editor’s note below the article.

CHARLOTTESVILLE – A 24-year-old woman was in trouble.

She contacted the Area 10 Community Services Board in Charlottesville for help with her mental health. She suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder, substance abuse, psychiatric hospitalizations and several other issues.

In 2018, the services board assigned a qualified mental health professional (QMHP) to her file, who worked alongside a counselor, a psychiatric nurse practitioner and case management services.

The client’s first QMHP retired in 2021. Kristin Mary Horton, another QMHP, took over the case.

A QMHP works with a client to help them manage their daily life, such as helping them stick to a schedule or make steady progress toward goals.

Horton’s relationship with the customer was different.

Horton’s boyfriend, the client, and the client’s husband spent time together. She berated the client’s husband for “having a low-paying job and not contributing.” Horton brought his children to the client’s apartment. The client gave the children gifts.

The client gave Horton a key to her apartment. She received loans from Horton. She paid for Horton’s cell phone service.

When the client’s counselor went on maternity leave in late 2021, the client told Horton and her psychiatrist that she had been harming herself. She was approved for treatment at an inpatient crisis stabilization center, but decided not to go after Horton discouraged her.

Horton and the client smoked marijuana together “on several occasions.” Horton purchased psychedelic mushrooms from the client.

The client hosted a New Year’s Eve party in early 2022 at her apartment. Horton was present, consuming marijuana and psychedelic mushrooms. Horton had a seizure during the party.

The client wrote a complaint to the Ministry of Health Professions in March 2022. She felt “neglected and generally overwhelmed” by Horton’s “problems,” which the two discussed more often than her case.

Instead of helping her manage her daily life, Horton encouraged the client’s drug use, which caused her to “fall apart.” In an April 2022 interview, the client said that working with Horton made her “sicker” and “stopped[her]life and made it dysfunctional.”

The client told DHP investigators that Horton said she slashed tires and broke windows of people who betrayed her.

Horton responded to the board in an April 2022 letter. She acknowledged that she “crossed professional boundaries” and knew her actions were “very wrong.” She also wrote, “I feel like (the client) was very manipulative of the situation and may have planned to have me fired and lose my QMHP license.” She had not planned to renew her license when it expired in June 2022.

The Virginia Board of Counseling revoked Horton’s registration on January 24, 2023.

She is allowed to apply for reinstatement three years after the dismissal, and would need a three-quarters majority vote of the council to be approved.

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To file a formal complaint against a healthcare professional, click here. For links to the public information this story is based on, see below.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: When citizens pose a danger to public safety, law enforcement arrests them and charges them with crimes; they have the opportunity to face a jury of their peers; if convicted, they serve time and/or probation that can often trap them in the system for years.

When a health care professional is deemed a danger to public safety, the Virginia Department of Health Care Professionals handles all aspects of the investigation, including the investigation and penalties. And sometimes, even when a health care professional is found guilty of harming patients, they can be reprimanded, fined, and continue to practice, without missing a day of work and with little chance for the public to see what they did.

The Health Safety articles in this series provide the facts of cases where health professionals put public health safety at risk. They also take you into the world of consent orders and public final medical board orders, so you can see exactly how the VDHP’s self-monitoring system works.

Lyra Bordelon (she/her) is the reporter in charge of public transparency and justice at the News Leader. Do you have any suggestions or comments for us? Please feel free to send them to us by email at [email protected]. Subscribe to us on newsleader.com.