Patient Accuses Therapist of Dating His Wife While Treating Him for Divorce-Related Depression

Dr. Harvey Rosenberg treated Steven Kay for depression for eight years.

Feb. 17, 2010 — -- Steven Kay trusted his therapist with his most intimate thoughts, fears and secrets.

Kay says when his wife, Laurie, started saying she wanted a divorce in 2001, he turned to Dr. Harvey Rosenberg for help. Rosenberg presided over Kay's couples therapy. And when Kay attempted suicide later that year, Rosenberg was the one to help him through his recovery.

What Kay says he didn't know until after nearly eight years of therapy was that Rosenberg had begun dating Kay's ex-wife while treating Kay for his depression at the same time.

Now Kay is suing, accusing Rosenberg of "medical negligence" and for breach of the "applicable standard of psychiatric care," according to court documents filed in Michigan's Oakland County Circuit Court late last month.

In a interview with, Kay, 62, said that the ordeal left him distraught, and that he hopes the suit will "hold [Rosenberg] accountable."

"I was absolutely devastated," said Kay. "It was the worst betrayal I've ever experienced in my life."

"I was very much in love with [Laurie], and I knew at some point she'd be dating another man," said Kay of his now ex-wife. "But never, in my wildest dreams, did I ever think it would be [Rosenberg]."

According to the lawsuit, Kay spent upward of $87,000 for treatment with Rosenberg over the eight years, including couples therapy and family therapy that included his son. Kay wants that money back, as well as attorney fees and "adequate compensation for all damages sustained," according to the documents.

Repeated calls made to Rosenberg's Farmington Hills, Mich., practice were not returned, nor were calls made and e-mails sent to his lawyer, Stephen McGraw.

A message left for what is believed to be Laurie's cell phone was not returned either.

In the lawsuit, Kay said that Rosenberg, when confronted about his relationship with Laurie, admitted it and apologized.

Rosenberg has a month from the date the complaint was filed to file a response to the allegations, and has not yet done so.

"Dr. Rosenberg apologized for hurting Mr. Kay and admitted that his actions were wrong," read the court documents. "He told Mr. Kay that he was in a loveless marriage, that his time was limited due to lung cancer, and that he wanted to experience happiness."

Rosenberg added that he would no longer treat Kay as a patient, according to the court documents.

Kay Says He Told Rosenberg He Was Still In Love With Laurie

Exactly how long Rosenberg and Laurie were allegedly dating while Kay was still in treatment is not established in the court documents, said Kay's lawyer, Stuart Feldheim, who said an accurate timeline is one of many details that will likely come out during the discovery process of the trial.

"I have asked [Rosenberg] to tell me the date, the month and the year where the contact with Kay's ex-wife first occurred in his opinion, and that you believed you had a duty to terminate the physician-patient treatment," said Feldheim.

What the court document does detail is just how much Rosenberg counted on Kay over the years, said Feldheim. He described Kay as "destroyed" after learning that his ex-wife was dating his therapist.

The court documents allege that Rosenberg, after encouraging couples therapy during which Laurie and Kay would visit his office, "advised" Kay to accept the divorce with his wife and to agree to a divorce settlement "that was contrary to recommendations of Kay's own attorney."

Rosenberg also allegedly referred Laurie to her own attorney, and the divorce was finalized in January 2006.

Kay Argues That Rosenberg Should Have 'Refrained' From Dating His Ex

Kay says he kept seeing Rosenberg, growing "more depressed" and having difficulty "functioning." According to the court documents, Kay told Rosenberg that he "obsessed over Laurie" and worried that he "would never be happy again."

Three years after the divorce, Kay says he told Rosenberg that he had gone on a cruise with a woman who he had been dating, but upon returning, told the therapist that he wasn't sure if the relationship would work because he "was still in love with Laurie and could not stop thinking about her."

A few months later, Kay alleges he received a phone call from Laurie telling him that she and Rosenberg were dating. Laurie told Kay, "I can have anybody I want," and added that she wanted him to hear it from her rather than from someone else, according to the court documents.

Kay alleged in the court documents that Rosenberg should have "refrained" from acting on his feelings with Laurie and that, at the very least, he should have waited to become involved with Laurie until after he had stopped treating Kay.

"It's the core of what psychiatric therapy is, your ability to trust your therapist and think that it is the one place in the world where you can tell someone everything and be very vulnerable," said Feldheim.

"Then to find out you're crying your heart out to that guy about how much you love your ex-wife and find out there's something going on between them," Feldheim said. "It destroyed him."