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Burned by a Shady PTSD ‘Expert’

In BC, a charity and a college cut ties to Robert Perkins after his education claims failed to add up. Second of two.

Charles Rusnell 24 Jan 2023TheTyee.ca

Charles Rusnell is an independent investigative reporter based in Edmonton.

For years, former Whistler paramedic and PTSD-related charity founder Terrance Kosikar proudly displayed a PhD behind his name.

The high-profile PTSD survivor continued to tout the academic title on social media and in correspondence even after an associate warned him there was something fishy about the organization that had bestowed upon Kosikar what was actually an honorary degree.

Now, however, Kosikar admits he was taken in, and used, by Robert L. Perkins, a self-described “expert in the prevention and treatment of PTSD.” 

“I'm completely appalled by this,” Kosikar told The Tyee in an interview. “These snakes, they know how to take advantage of good people doing good things; they weasel their way in.”

Perkins is the acting dean of the College of Certified Psychophysiologists, an unaccredited California-based online school that operates from a postal outlet in an Anaheim strip mall. Its Canadian office is a postal box in a store on Vancouver’s Kingsway Avenue.

Following an exposé published by Global News in September, a Tyee investigation yesterday revealed further details about Perkins’ fabricated education credentials and experience, and how the Calgary Police Service continued its close association with Perkins and his college even after a detailed warning from a Tacoma, Washington psychologist. (See part one of this series.)

Kosikar was a first responder at the Whistler Sliding Centre on the opening day of the 2010 Winter Olympics when luger Nodar Kumaritashvili of Georgia was injured and died after a horrific crash. The story told by Kosikar is that he was so psychologically damaged that he attempted suicide and ended up on the streets of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside before he said he found a way to heal himself in British Columbia’s back country. He founded Camp My Way, which operates an off-grid residential wilderness program that offers natural healing for people with PTSD. 

Kosikar provided The Tyee with emails from April 2019 in which Perkins, a Canadian originally from Oshawa, Ontario, offered him an honorary degree. Perkins told Kosikar in one email that the State of California authorized the launching of the college which offers degrees in psychophysiology.

But the state doesn’t regulate the college, and neither does the U.S. government. 

“We have the authority to grant honorary degrees to individuals who have contributed to society, individuals or causes etc.,” Perkins told Kosikar.  

“We want to honour and recognize you and the work you have done by doing this in the near future. But we also want to create a scholarship program for emergency services workers who have struggled with PTSD and come out on the other side and be able to teach them how to apply these things in helping others who are still struggling.”

“I got this email and like holy shit, I don't even have a Grade 9 education and here I'm getting offered this PhD,” said Kosikar, who subsequently attached the PhD to his name without initially disclosing it was an honorary, rather than an academically achieved, degree. 

Kosikar: ‘We are not affiliated with this guy’

Perkins was supposed to formally present the honorary degree to Kosikar at an event in downtown Vancouver later on in 2019. But for various reasons, including the pandemic, Kosikar said it didn’t happen until Aug. 21, 2021. 

Perkins and Kosikar posed for a grip-and-grin photo at a Ride to Recovery event Kosikar had organized, attended by dozens of bikers, police officers, Surrey Fire and Rescue, members of the Georgian community and NDP MLA Shane Simpson.

Perkins spoke again at another event in January 2022 when Kosikar received an award from the Georgian ambassador to Canada.

“He saw an opportunity with us, with all the emergency services in British Columbia, and our connections worldwide,” Kosikar said. 

“And I see what he is doing. He is going to kind of show face, give me this honorary degree so that he could market himself to all of our people.” 

Perkins did exactly that, posting the letter offering the degree and photos of the ceremony on his website and various social media sites. 

Kosikar said that a volunteer assistant with Camp My Way was approached by Perkins' wife, Veronica Maxwell, in Febuary. Maxwell had attempted to sell the volunteer a PhD from the college for $7,000.

Maxwell claims to have a PhD in sexological applied psychophysiology from the College of Certified Psychophysiologists. She now offers to cure premature ejaculation or erectile dysfunction during one-hour sessions that cost between $400 and $450. Her now-deleted website listed a Lower Mainland address as well as addresses in Toronto, Ontario, and Santa Monica, California.

The assistant, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Maxwell’s approaches to her were highly unprofessional and she eventually cut off communications and shared her misgivings with Kosikar.  

Kosikar said he didn’t believe the assistant because they had had a falling out. He said he tried to follow up with Perkins, but he didn’t reply to his messages.

Finally, in late October, the disaffected assistant posted a link to the Global News story that had exposed Perkins’ misrepresentations to Kosikar’s LinkedIn account. The assistant questioned why he continued to tout the honorary PhD. 

That is when, Kosikar said, he decided to end his relationship with Perkins, although he conceded he had yet to remove the PhD reference from his social media and email signature when interviewed by The Tyee in late December.

“That is why I'm giving you a call, in all due respect, to say that we are not affiliated with this guy,” Kosikar said. 

Neither Perkins nor Maxwell responded to several interview requests. 

Private college in Vancouver cut ties

After the event in January, Perkins approached a Vancouver-area university student who had spoken briefly at the event about her research. She said Perkins offered her a scholarship for a PhD in psychophysiology from his college.

“I was quite surprised that a complete stranger was offering me a scholarship for a few words I had spoken,” said the young woman, who asked not to be named because she fears reprisal from Perkins.

She accepted an offer to attend one of his online workshops but considered it close to useless. Sharing her opinion of the experience, she said, “I didn’t realize at the time but I think I had a firsthand experience with a fraud.”

Perkins also duped Rhodes Wellness College, a private institution in Vancouver. The college’s co-owner, Benjamin Colling, was contacted on Sept. 6 for the Global News story about why Perkins was listed, with his photo, as a faculty member on the college’s website.

At the time, Colling said Perkins was not a full-time faculty member, but his references had been checked, and he was in the middle of the hiring process for a two-week fall course. Colling said Perkins’ contract had not been finalized, and he said Perkins would not be teaching at the college.

Colling did not disclose that Perkins had already taught a course — Advanced Trauma — to more than 20 students, four times a week from Aug. 15 to Sept. 1.   

One student told The Tyee she worried her diploma in counselling would not be recognized by accreditation organizations such as the Association of Cooperative Counselling Therapists of Canada.  

Colling declined a followup interview request but in an emailed statement he said Perkins was “asked to co-facilitate part of a course together with a more experienced instructor, utilizing Zoom, to determine whether we would hire him to teach as an adjunct faculty member for the fall and potentially beyond.”

Perkins was asked only to teach their approved curriculum and was monitored during the course by the college’s director of education, Colling said.  

“Despite following our curriculum, Mr. Perkins did not disclose everything he should have to us during our onboarding process,” Colling said. He said their vetting determined Perkins has a master’s degree from an “American regionally accredited university” but citing privacy laws he declined to name the university. 

“We discovered that some of his subsequent education was from an institution that he co-founded and was on the board of.”  

That institution was the College of Psychophysiology.

Read part one of this series, "He Trained Calgary Police Long After ‘Scam’ Warnings."

If you have information about this or another story, please contact Charles Rusnell in confidence via email.  [Tyee]

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