A psychologist has been banned from treating prison inmates
and told her contact with them was "inappropriate".
Lydia Buxeda said she had been given no formal reason or
explanation for being barred from the prisons and believed
her clients would be adversely affected as a result.
Ms Buxeda, whose prison clients include Killer Beez gang
leader Josh Masters, had worked as a psychologist for 16
years when she began working with prisoners in July last
In her role as an ACC-funded counsellor, she visited
prisoners at Ngawha prison in Northland, Auckland Prison at
Paremoremo and Spring Hill prison, in the Waikato.
Spring Hill was the scene of a riot in June, which caused
millions of dollars in damage and led to 23 prisoners facing
Ms Buxeda said she drove to Ngawha prison to keep normal
appointments with prisoners and was told she was not allowed
to enter. She was told the same when arriving at other
prisons - but not told why.
Efforts to find out the reason for the ban were unsuccessful,
although she wrote to her clients telling them she was unable
to visit and raising the possibility it was due to a decision
made by a Department of Corrections staff psychologist.
A letter from ACC to the Association of Counsellors raised
concerns about her contact with prisoners.
It said letters by Ms Buxeda to her inmate clients wrongly
named a prison psychologist as the cause of the visits being
suspended, which resulted in threats being made.
It also stated there were "potential issues with professional
boundaries Ms Buxeda sets with her clients and the nature of
the correspondence is felt to be inappropriate".
"It is felt her behaviour poses a significant risk to the
wellbeing of ACC clients."
Ms Buxeda said Corrections had never offered any explanation
for her being barred from the prison. She said there was no
inappropriate contact between herself and inmates although
some might have formed an attachment to her.
"It happens all the time in private practice. Clients will
express desire as a part of my work. I'm not allowed to
desire clients but a client is allowed to desire me," she
She said Corrections intercepted a letter from an inmate
which carried such sentiments - an interception which she
believed betrayed her professional relationship with clients.
The Herald contacted Corrections in late July to ask for
comment about Ms Buxeda's case and a spokeswoman said the
department was in the process of responding to her.
She said: "We believe she should hear our response from us
first. She may wish to share our reply with you."
The Herald checked again last week and was told the
department had not yet finished writing to her. No other
comment would be made.
- David Fisher of the New Zealand Herald