6th OWI charge prompts review of counselor's state license - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

6th OWI charge prompts review of counselor's state license

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MADISON (WKOW) -- A felony sixth drunken driving charge against a state-licensed substance abuse counselor and social worker has prompted an investigation into her credentials, as state officials offer little explanation for the previous approval of the licenses, despite the applicant's significant criminal history.

33-year old Tanya Kraege of Madison was charged in Rock County this month with felony sixth offense operating while intoxicated (OWI), as well as felony eluding an officer, and other traffic offenses. Janesville police officials say Kraege drove a car into a snow bank, ran off and refused to cooperate with responding officers, and officers had to use a taser to subdue Kraege.

Wisconsin department of safety and professional services spokesperson Hannah Zillmer tells 27 News Kraege's licenses as a clinical substance abuse counselor and advanced practical social worker are being investigated.

In 2005, Kraege was sentenced in Dane County court to jail time and probation on her felony fifth offense OWI. Kraege was still on probation when she was granted a license as a substance abuse counselor-in-training in 2009.

Zillmer says no background checks are performed on applicants for the licenses held by Kraege. Zillmer tells 27 News applicants are expected to self-report any criminal convictions. Zillmer says DSPS staff members decide on applications for substance abuse counselor and social worker licenses, but says a conviction history would prompt a review by members of the examining boards for the respective professions.

Zillmer says Kraege's license files are currently unavailable for review, so state officials are unaware whether Kraege reported her drunk driving convictions, and other, separate misdemeanor convictions.

Kraege has yet to respond to a request for comment from a 27 News reporter at Kraege's Madison home.

Zillmer tells 27 News criminal histories of the order of Kraege's history fail to automatically disqualify applicants for professional, state licenses. Zillmer says the impact of a history on an application depends on the specific, license field.

Psychotherapist and substance abuse counselor Bonnie Lubet tells 27 News an applicant's criminal history is not a "black and white" proposition when it comes to an applicant's ability to function as a substance abuse, health care professional.

"Often these people who go into this field, have had drug (issues). If you look at AA, it's run by people who are now sober," Lubet says.

Lubet says the insight a recovered, substance abuser can bring to patients as a counselor can be helpful. "(For patients) It makes it more meaningful, they can respect that person. If they're still relapsing, of course, that presents a big problem."

Lubet tells 27 News it's imperative ethically for any licensed substance abuse treatment provider to arrange for supervision or step aside from a professional practice, if they experience a relapse of past, addictive behaviors.

Kraeger lists a position with Madison Health Services, which includes a methadone clinic, on her online resume. A representative of Madison Health Services has yet to respond to a request for comment from 27 News.

Substance abuse psychologist Henry Steinberger says counselors with past, substance abuse histories of their own are typically motivated to act an example of the value of sober living in dealings with patients. Steinberger says recovered substance abusers who are counselors can be prone to steer patients to the treatment paths that benefited the counselors.

Kraeger's initial court appearance on the felony charges in Rock County is scheduled to be continued on Feb. 19.
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