Dear Ms. Mary Ellen Elia ( New York State Education Commissioner)
It was brought to my attention the staff at Samaritan Counseling Center (of the Capital Region) is violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment by requiring 12 Step meeting attendance guaranteeing religion will not be forced on Americans. The Office of the Professions regulates and licenses mental health professions, and those professionals must meet Professional Standards of Care in their fields. Their staff unethically and illegally coerces 12 Step meeting attendance under threat of terminating treatment.
12 Step meetings are unregulated, religious, and have no safety and ethics rules, Forcing attendance of Alcoholics Anonymous is professional misconduct because it is impossible to supervise a client at 12 Step meetings and collect evidence of effectiveness. More importantly, New York’s Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) states 12 Step meeting are not treatment and must not be coerced, a fact Samaritan Counseling Center ignores.
Gleason made complaints about Alcoholics Anonymous which both his therapist Oona Edmands and her supervisor, David Olsen, repeatedly ignored despite their patient expressing objection to the treatment. Coercion is not limited New York, it is affecting a nurse named Lilly in Pennsylvania, who is being ordered by the state’s nursing board to attend 90 AA meetings in 90 days; if she does not comply, she will lose her nursing license. Recently, a class action lawsuit in Michigan was filed against a program violating the civil rights of health professionals.
If any portion of Samaritan’s finances are from any government entity, the center is violating Federal law. In order to comply with the US Constitution, Samaritan Counseling Center must not coerce 12 Step attendance. Tom Gleason was not informed about the nature of Alcoholics Anonymous by the Samaritan staff. He did not choose to attend AA voluntarily, instead he was threatened to lose services at Samaritan. He suffered emotionally, mentally, and financially as a result of Edmands’ and Olsens’ policy of coercing 12 Step meeting attendance.
Thank you for reading and understanding the severity of this problem.