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Family therapist wasn't qualified to work alone

TAMPA — The man whose Web site claimed he was "one of the most well known child and family therapists in Florida" was labeled a fraud Monday by the head of the Tampa Bay Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.

Michael Anthony Holder, 39, faces charges of domestic battery on his 15-year-old stepson. Monday morning, he was fired from his job at the Agency for Community Treatment Services as counselor of a residential program.

Apart from his job as a counselor, Holder's Web site advertises his "Dynamic Parenting System," "a professional behavior management system proven highly effective at reducing or eliminating negative behaviors and problem attitudes from children."

But Bill Hogan, a licensed family therapist and president of the Tampa professional association, says Holder should not have been working alone or advertising as a "family therapist," since that title is protected and restricted to those with that license.

"Practicing without a license is the ultimate fraud," Hogan said.

State records show Holder is only licensed as a registered mental health counselor intern, which means he needs to work under the guidance of a superior.

"He was flying under the radar," Hogan says — until the St. Petersburg Times published a story about his arrest Saturday.

An arrest report from the Hills­borough County Sheriff's Office says Holder grabbed his 15-year-old stepson by the neck during a dispute, choking him.

He inflicted several cuts on the boy's arms and face and left a bruise on his left arm, the report says. Holder denied choking his stepson, but the report states he admitted touching the boy in an attempt to get the teen out of his living quarters.

Holder of Tampa was released from the Orient Road Jail on Monday evening.

Alexandra Zayas can be reached at azayas@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3354.

Update: Michael Anthony Holder was cleared of his charges by the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office. His state license as a registered mental health counselor intern is clear and active, with no discipline or public complaints on file.

Fast Facts

Your therapist

To verify the credentials of your family therapist, visit the Florida Department of Health's Web site at www.floridashealth.com or call its Division of Medical Quality Assurance at (850) 488-0595.

Family therapist wasn't qualified to work alone 11/24/08 [Last modified: Thursday, November 18, 2010 12:20pm]
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