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Therapy ‘coach’ facing charges in Utah County

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Donna Weighill

Donna Weighill

PROVO — She filled lecture halls during Brigham Young University's Education Week, teaching people how to "say goodbye" to depression and fill their lives with meaningful relationships.

All appropriate topics — but the Utah County Attorney's Office says she should have left the therapy to the licensed professionals.

Donna Weighill was recently charged in 4th District Court with five felony counts of unlawful conduct of practicing a profession without a license.

The charging documents outline that twice in March, one time in August and twice in September, Weighill "represented (herself) to be practicing or engaging in ... any occupation or profession requiring licensure under this title when not licensed to do so."

An investigation by the Division of Professional Licensing resulted in action in April.

"We got complaints that (she was) practicing mental health therapy without a license," said Jennifer Bolton, DOPL spokeswoman. "After we looked into it, she came in and signed a cease and desist order that she wouldn't engage in mental health therapy (and) admitted to practicing without a license."

According to the cease-and-desist order, Weighill is accused of meeting with a couple. The husband in this couple had a drinking problem, says the order, and she devised a treatment plan. However, the order says, she didn't consider whether the man needed a medical evaluation for medical detoxification.

She also told the couple she had the education, personal and practical experience to work in Utah, but her Arizona license is not valid in Utah, which is why she calls her therapy "coaching," according to the DOPL documents.

Weighill also admitted to DOPL that she had told the couple she was licensed to practice mental health therapy in Arizona, but records from the Board of Behavioral Health in Arizona show that although she applied for that license in March 2004, it was denied, according to the DOPL documents.

After issuing the order, DOPL then referred the case to the Utah County Attorney's Office.

"Under the statute ... (the board) deemed that she was doing more than just life coaching," Bolton said.

That's the same story the Utah County Attorney's Office learned.

"She was claiming she was a coach, not a counselor, that's how she was trying to get around the legislation," said Guy Probert, the deputy Utah County attorney who first looked at the case to file charges.

The case has been turned over to Deputy Utah County Attorney Jason Sant. He will be in court on Dec. 3 at 1 p.m. when Weighill is first scheduled to appear.

E-mail and phone messages left by the Deseret Morning News for Weighill were not returned.

On her Web site and in her curriculum vitae posted online, Weighill references several degrees from universities and on-line learning classes, including BYU and the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada.

She has spoken numerous times to Latter-day Saints in California, Canada, Arizona and Utah about divorce, relationships, optimism, depression and blended families.

She has also written a book "To Say Goodbye," which talks about dealing with depression.

Currently her curriculum vitae lists her as the dean and professor at the online Rio Verde University where she is designing and pioneering an original bachelor's- and master's-level blended family program.


E-mail: sisraelsen@desnews.com