Unethical psychologist loses appeal over registration loss

A CONTROVERSIAL Bundaberg therapist who borrowed money from - and got drunk with - a seriously ill patient has lost his fight to overturn a decision to cancel his professional licence.

Craig Stephen Cook asked the Court of Appeal to reverse the Queensland Health Tribunal's 2008 ruling that cancelled his Psychologists Board of Queensland registration after it was revealed he acted unethically.

It was found Mr Cook's relationship with one of his patients crossed the bounds of professionalism in 2001.

"The complainant suffered a mental breakdown which led to his admission to the psychiatric ward of the Bundaberg Base Hospital prior to his referral to the applicant,' the Court of Appeal documents show.

"According to the complainant, the relationship between him and the applicant quickly became something more than simply that of patient and psychologist."

Mr Cook often discussed his marital and drinking problems during counselling sessions with the other man.

Mr Cook moved in with his patient, around August of 2001, for three weeks.

During that he borrowed $7000 from the man and would get drunk with him.

"From about July, 2001 until November, 2001 the complainant (patient) recalled that he would engage in regular heavy drinking sessions with the applicant," the court documents revealed.

"The applicant's response to these allegations was that whilst he disputed the accuracy of the allegations, he acknowledged that he did have a significant problem in being assertive and in establishing appropriate boundaries."

The Court of Appeal on Tuesday refused Mr Cook's request for leave to appeal the tribunal's decision, his request for an extension of time to appeal and his request to introduce further evidence relating to the case.

Court of Appeal justices Anthe Philippides, James Douglas and Peter Flanagan also ordered him to pay the Psychologists Board of Queensland costs.

They noted the appeal applications were not filed until almost six years after the tribunal's decision.

"The application for an extension of time in which to appeal should be refused bearing in mind the lack of satisfactory explanation for the extensive delay, the prejudice that would be suffered by the respondent and that an appeal is not likely to enjoy any prospect of success," Justice Philippides wrote.