The ethics committee of the American Psychological Assn. has filed "formal charges" against Massachusetts psychologist Peter Lawrence Gill, who runs the Cambridge Psychotherapy Institute in Newton.
The charges, based in part on a complaint filed nearly a year ago by Wallace C. Ralston of Newton, will be the subject of a hearing before the board of directors of the association in Washington. The hearing has yet to be scheduled.
Ralston, a former patient at Gill's institute who also has filed complaints against Gill with the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Psychology, has charged in his complaint to the American Psychological Assn. that, among other things, Gill "is effectively a guru - he is head of a sect."
In a recent interview, Gill said he had resigned from the association but that the voluntary professional organization had refused to accept his resignation. Psychologist David Mills, who heads the organization's ethics committee, said yesterday he could not comment on specifics but confirmed that it is association policy to refuse the resignation of "anybody under the scrutiny of the ethics committee so we can maintain jurisdiction."
Gill's attorney, Paul Gitlin, said yesterday, "Peter Gill resigned from the APA by letter dated Jan 29, 1984. He is not a member anymore, and he doesn't believe he comes under their scrutiny. The APA has refused to accept his resignation, though I don't think they have any legal right not to accept it. And their remedy is that if they find he is in violation, they will revoke his membership. He doesn't really care because he's already resigned."
The association says it gets about 200 complaints a year about its psychologist members, and about 100 of these go before the ethics committee. The committee typically deems about one-third to have no substance. The other two-thirds eventually lead to action ranging from continuing investigation to reprimand to expulsion.
Ralston's complaint to the association also alleged that Gill's patients at the institute "irrespective of education" are used as therapists for other patients. Gill himself has maintained that state licenses, which are based in part on academic training, in no way guarantee the quality of a therapist.