VANCOUVER—A psychology clinic in Metro Vancouver is collapsing under the weight of sexual misconduct allegations that stretch back more than a decade, according to court documents detailing accounts of a broken business partnership.
Becky Stewart met Michael Dadson in 2002 when she was an undergraduate student at Trinity Western University in Langley, B.C. At the time, she had a severe eating disorder and sought help from Dadson, a clinical counsellor. According to court documents, over the next two decades, their patient-counsellor relationship turned sexual in nature. The two went on to start a clinical counselling business together in 2010.
Stewart, 38, outlines the allegations in a 42-page affidavit included in a petition she filed with B.C. courts to dissolve Brookswood Counselling, the Langley clinic she runs with Dadson, 60.
Stewart’s petition, filed in August 2019, outlines alleged sexual relationships with Dadson and includes affidavits from two other women who worked as counsellors with Dadson. One of the women was also his patient.
The Star has agreed not to name the two women in accordance with its policies on reporting about alleged victims of sexual abuse.
An affidavit is a legal document containing a sworn statement of facts. None of the allegations have been proven in court and Dadson has not filed a response.
His lawyer, Paul Kent Snowsell, told Star Vancouver his client hopes to resolve the matter amicably out of court.
Snowsell said the allegations made in the affidavits “have nothing to do” with the business issue that the petition is meant to address and his client will not respond to them.
“Obviously Dr. Dadson doesn’t agree with the facts,” Snowsell said. “It’s obviously two people that have disagreement on how they see the business moving forward and (it has) devolved into personal attacks against Mr. Dadson, which is unfortunate.”
The Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association’s code of ethics states that members must avoid “close personal relationships” with patients as well as “any type of sexual intimacy” with them.
According to her affidavit, Stewart met Dadson in 2002 when she was an undergraduate student at Trinity Western University in Langley. He was a counsellor at the university’s wellness centre at the time. She was 20 and he was in his early 40s.
Stewart continued seeing Dadson for therapy even after she had recovered from the eating disorder.
In 2004, the two attended a conference together in Boston. According to Stewart’s affidavit, this is where Dadson first told her “he had felt a mixture of feelings from our time together, including romantic feelings.”
Stewart then told Dadson she wanted to end their therapy sessions. But she said Dadson told her that it wouldn’t be a good idea until she was in a romantic relationship with someone, and that men who were her own age would not be able to “meet her relationship and attachment needs.”
In the summer of 2005, while Stewart was still receiving counselling from Dadson, he invited her on a trip to Osoyoos with his family. Stewart alleges that after the trip, they went to dinner, then returned to Dadson’s home in Langley where they performed oral sex on one another.
Stewart says in her affidavit that this was the first of “numerous sexual encounters” between her and Dadson while she was receiving treatment from him. She and Dadson continued to have sexual contact for the next eight years. The affidavit details how their relationship caused Stewart “pain and isolation” due to the secrecy the relationship required, since Dadson was married.
Stewart filed a complaint to the B.C. Association of Clinical Counsellors in November 2018. The association’s executive director, Carolyn Fast, would not confirm to Star Vancouver whether they were investigating or whether they had even received the complaint, citing privacy concerns. But Fast did confirm Dadson recently signed an agreement to “address professional practice issues.”
According to the Brookswood website, Dadson is the company’s clinical director and the national clinical director at the Veterans Transition Network, an organization that delivers mental health services to former soldiers. The website also states that he has been an ordained chaplain for more than 25 years.
Dadson also taught psychology at post-secondary institutions until recently. He is still listed as a part-time instructor of counselling psychology at Trinity Western University’s Gender Studies Institute, but the university told Star Vancouver he no longer works there. A spokesperson would not confirm when his employment ended.
The University of British Columbia confirmed that Dadson was an adjunct psychology professor at the school from Sept. 1, 2015 to Dec. 31, 2016, but would not comment on why he left.
Stewart says Dadson’s sexual advances toward her stopped in 2015. By that time, the two had started Brookswood and hired multiple counsellors to expand the clinic. They also mentored aspiring counsellors.
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But Stewart is not the only person making allegations against Dadson.
One of the other women who has filed an affidavit alleges that Dadson made unwelcome sexual advances toward her starting in 2015.
She says she met Dadson in her early 20s when she started at Brookswood. Dadson was her supervisor there and soon became her therapist. When she expressed hesitancy about his sexual advances, he would sometimes tell her that he thought she had been “brainwashed,” her affidavit alleges.
Like Stewart, this counsellor also went on a trip to Osoyoos with Dadson’s family, according to court documents. The affidavit described several of her therapy sessions with Dadson, including one in September 2015 where the two were drinking scotch. She had consumed several glasses when she “suddenly became aware that Dadson was having sexual intercourse with her.”
She “panicked, cried, and hyperventilated,” and told Dadson she had not consented to having sex, according to the affidavit. Dadson then allegedly stopped and apologized.
In August 2018, Stewart and the two other women who have filed affidavits about Dadson met for coffee and traded stories about their alleged experience with him.
In an email dated Sept. 17, 2018, one of the women told Dadson she was shocked to learn about his relationships with Stewart and the other woman.
“As such, I would appreciate limiting my communication with you to that which is required to ensure the continued quality of care for the clients and staff of Brookswood Counselling,” she continued in the email, one of dozens filed in court as part of Stewart’s petition to dissolve the company.
The next day, Dadson responded with an email that read: “I will respect your boundaries.”
He then took a leave of absence from the clinic, according to court documents.
In October 2018, Dadson’s lawyer sent letters to all three women, warning that Dadson would sue them if they continued to spread “false, misleading, and untrue allegations” about him. The letters, which were included in court documents, suggested that Dadson had already lost his job at UBC due to the women’s actions.
Dadson returned to the clinic from his leave of absence on Nov. 14, 2018.
According to Stewart’s affidavit, the two other women who filed affidavits in the case have since quit their jobs, as have Brookswood’s receptions, two interns and three other clinicians.