July 30, 2014

The Magic Wand, or how to do multi-agency working in an age of austerity

As the cuts continue to bite, the various agencies that work with vulnerable children have become more and more stretched. Multi-agency working has become ever more difficult to achieve. Fortunately there is a standard letter, which I’ve seen increasingly in use by these agencies. Feel free to copy this letter and use it in correspondence between social services, CAMHS, GPs, schools, Youth Offending Services and voluntary agencies. Lots of other professionals already do.

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July 28, 2014

Exeter church plays Pontius Pilate over Palace Gate abuse case

In recent months I’ve covered the Palace Gate abuse case, in which the two directors of Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter, were struck off by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. John Clapham was found to have taken sexual advantage of two women during therapy sessions. His co-director Lindsey Talbott then aided him in a lengthy campaign of harassment and defamation against the complainants.

Palace Gate Counselling Service rents its premises in the Palace Gate Centre from South Street Baptist Church. Because counselling has only voluntary self-regulation rather than state regulation, Clapham and Talbott have been able to continue running their firm despite the striking-off order. Which is not to say their business hasn’t been impeded. Outside agencies have stopped referring clients there. Fundraisers have pulled their support. Even so, they’re still there at the Palace Gate Centre.

Which begs the question, why haven’t South Street Baptist Church evicted them from the premises? I now have a statement from the church.

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July 18, 2014

CAMHS and gender identity

I work in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). One of the roles of CAMHS is to act as a gateway to the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) at the Tavistock and Portman in London. GIDS is the only service in the NHS that can prescribe hormone treatments to young people under 18 with gender identity issues. I’m something of a CAMHS jack-of-all-trades, and gender identity issues aren’t a large part of my role, but they’re a part of my role nonetheless.

The purpose of this blog post is to assemble some of my thoughts on the role of CAMHS with regard to gender identity. It’s a bit different to my usual blogging content in that it isn’t so much giving my own views as inviting others to give feedback. I think I should give the usual preface that any opinions I state here are personal ones and not necessarily those of my employer.

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July 5, 2014

When the Pick-Up Artists came to Iceland

[Trigger warnings: sexual harassment, misogyny]

I’m currently sat in a hotel in Raufarhöfn, on the North East coast of Iceland, which is  pretty much the closest you can get to the Arctic Circle and still have a decent wifi connection. I’m partway through a long road trip through this wonderfully strange and strangely wonderful country. It’s my third trip here and it’s a land I’ve come to love.

A couple of days ago, I picked up a copy of the Reykjavik Grapevine, a local English-language circular, and promptly discovered that a spectacularly vile online movement have been making their way here. The Pick-Up Artists, or PUAs.

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July 1, 2014

Some unfashionable opinions on the Glastonbury Festival

Over the past week, this blog has been rather quiet. This isn’t because I’ve dropped off the ends of the Earth – not quite, anyway. I’ve been volunteering at the Glastonbury Festival with the Oxfam Stewards, who raise money for charity by helping to run festivals across the UK, and who I can’t recommend enough. Continue reading

June 11, 2014

More on the McCarron case

Last month I was alarmed to hear that the Health and Care Professions Council had failed to strike off a practitioner psychologist after finding allegations of serious sexual misconduct proved. The full committee findings are now online. I think it raises a few questions about how the panel came to its decision.

John McCarron, a psychologist from Lancashire. was suspended for a year after beginning a sexual relationship with a vulnerable client shortly after the therapy ended. I’ve chatted about the case on Twitter with various psychologists, all of whom have been shaking their heads at what looks like a worryingly lenient decision. I received a few thoughts from Leigh Emery about the sanction. Continue reading

June 10, 2014

Concerned counsellors raise alarm over Palace Gate

The following statement has been issued to various agencies in the Exeter area, warning them about Palace Gate Counselling Service, who were struck off by the BACP last month. It is signed by 27 counsellors and psychotherapists, including 11 supervisors. I think it says something about the service that so many of their fellow professionals feel compelled to raise the alarm. Unfortunately it probably also says something about the lack of statutory authority behind accredited voluntary registration that it’s relying on people taking the initiative in order to raise these concerns.
CONCERNED COUNSELLORS
 
Findings by British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy May 2014:
PHOENIX COUNSELLING SERVICES: SERIOUS PROFESSIONAL MISCONDUCT
 
Phoenix Counselling Services, the company who continue to run Palace Gate Counselling in Exeter, have now been twice struck off the register of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.(BACP) Two women made separate complaints about touch and nudity in therapy sessions in 2012 and this has been judged in hearings last month (May 2014) to be “serious professional misconduct”.

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June 9, 2014

Struck-off Exeter counsellors also running services in Plymouth and Taunton

I recently blogged about Palace Gate Counselling Service, whose Exeter-based directors John Clapham and Lindsey Talbott have just been struck off by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. Under their trading name Phoenix Counselling Services, a whopping 30 allegations were found proved against them, including sexual abuse during therapy by Clapham.

Palace Gate Counselling Service are still going despite this. Indeed, their company blog still has a spectacularly libellous blog post online about the two women who complained. A little suggestion, Mr Clapham and Ms Talbott. If you’re objecting to being called a ‘therapeutic cult’, it’s generally not a good idea to make long, rambling public statements claiming to be under attack by nefarious people for vague reasons. It kind of makes you look a bit cultish. Continue reading

May 27, 2014

#FindMike – The Movie

I’m a big fan of Jonny Benjamin’s mental health film-making, and wished him well when he started his #findMike social media campaign to seek out the stranger who saved him from suicide a few years ago. I must confess that I didn’t think Jonny would succeed, and was pleasantly surprised when ‘Mike’ (who actually turned out to be called Neil Laybourn) was indeed found.

Jonny’s quest to find Mike is now a movie, produced in conjunction with Rethink Mental Illness. Continue reading

May 23, 2014

Psychologist has sex with client, is not struck off by @The_HCPC

I’ve covered various cases where psychotherapy bodies have dealt with therapists who’ve committed serious sexual misconduct by temporarily suspending them rather than permanently striking them off. These have included shocking cases such as Geoffrey Pick, Stuart Macfarlane and Rob Waygood.

There’s a new name to add to this rogue’s gallery, but this time there’s a difference. I’ve argued that such cases mean that counselling and psychotherapy needs to dispense with voluntary self-regulation in favour of a statutory regulator such as the Health and Care Professions Council. However, on this occasion it’s the HCPC themselves who have decided that having sex with a client is not a reason to strike somebody off. Continue reading

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