Edwin Shockney, a local psychotherapist who misled patients for decades about his professional qualifications, is quitting the counseling business.
In a letter to patients dated June 14, Shockney said a mild stroke he suffered in early June and heart problems have forced him to retire immediately. He referred his patients to Kellie Helderman, a licensed professional counselor. She is Shockney’s daughter, though his letter does not say that.
On June 5, The Gazette published an investigation showing that Shockney has for decades lied about his education, saying he has a master’s degree in counseling and a doctorate in psychology. The Gazette was unable to confirm either, meaning he is unqualified to practice under state law. Even so, Shockney practiced in influential venues, advising local police departments and acting as an expert witness in almost 150 divorce hearings and criminal cases.
Shockney in an April interview dismissed claims that he is unqualified. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
After The Gazette report, a number of local agencies and organizations cut ties with Shockney. The Colorado Licensed Professional Counselor Examiners Board, which polices therapists, said it would not consider any action regarding his credentials until its regularly scheduled meeting in late July. Shockney continued to practice until June 14.
Shockney’s dubious credentials have left some patients feeling deeply betrayed.
“I’m so mad at him,” said Donna Martinez. Her 14-year-old son had been seeing Shockney for six months, she said. “He lied to us. He wasted our time. And I don’t think he helped at all.”
Martinez said her son was referred to Shockney in December because of anxiety he had after being in a car accident.
Her son saw Shockney eight times between December and June, she said.
“We were supposed to see him the day after the story came out, but he canceled,” she said.
Martinez, who sat in on all of her son’s sessions, said she was doubtful of Shockney’s effectiveness.
“All Shockney would do is talk about himself, just tell random stories, like this one about the time when he was a kid and put wheels on an old ironing board to make a skateboard,” Martinez said.
Shockney charged $270 for the initial visit and $150 for each 45-minute follow-up session, Martinez said. He also sold the family a number of herbal supplements and a $20 copy of his self-published book “Task Enhanced Therapy,” an appropriation of an 80-year-old Japanese technique called Morita Therapy that Shockney neither acknowledges nor credits in the book.
“Next he was going to start my son on aromatherapy,” said Martinez. “I kept asking my son, ‘Is any of this working for you bud?’”
He told her he wasn’t sure, she said.
“I have to find another therapist now,” she said. “And how do I tell my son that this one will be different?”
Charles Stacker said his 16-year-old son was referred to Shockney after being hit by a car in 2002.
The boy hit his head twice in the accident. After that, he struggled with cognitive, memory and sleep problems and mood changes consistent with a traumatic brain injury, but, Stacker said, Shockney did not refer his son to a neurologist, who might have been able to diagnose and treat the injury. Instead, Stacker said, Shockney played his son soothing music and used other techniques sometimes used to treat anxiety disorders.
“My son did not benefit at all. Shockney didn’t do anything,” Stacker said.
Over time, his son grew worse, Stacker said. He attempted suicide multiple times and dropped out of high school. He now suffers from seizures that make it difficult to hold a job, Stacker said.
“It was a head injury. And he could not see that,” Stacker said, referring to Shockney.
“My son was a bright student, but today he suffers. We feel so cheated by this monster.”
The state board, which could revoke Shockney’s license and recommend criminal prosecution, did not return calls for comment Wednesday. Citing confidentiality rules, board staff will not say if the board is investigating Shockney.
The 4th Judicial District Attorney’s office, which could prosecute Shockney for fraud, criminal impersonation and a number of other crimes, also did not return calls for comment.
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