April 23, 2014

BREAKING NEWS: Exeter counselling “cult” struck off by British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy

In February 2014 I commented on a public statement by Palace Gate Counselling Service (also known as Phoenix Counselling Service), an Exeter-based organisation that took the bizarre step of making a lengthy blog post condemning two therapists who have made complaints against them. They stated that these two therapists have accused them of running a “therapeutic cult” and that this was the subject of a hearing at the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy. These hearings appear to have triggered their resignation from the BACP, though the hearings continued regardless of their resignation.

Palace Gate claim to be deeply dissatisfied with how the BACP have handled the allegations. The outcome of the hearing has not yet been published. However, Palace Gate have made a new online statement in which they confirm that allegations have been found proved and they have been struck off. Continue reading

April 17, 2014

When it’s not good to talk: Adverse effects of psychological therapies

Yesterday I commented on a UKCP misconduct hearing in which a client was left “crying daily and not sleeping” following a therapy exercise which involved being held. The therapist involved was found to have committed misconduct (though wasn’t sanctioned).

This caused me to ponder a question: can psychological therapies be described as having side effects? By this I don’t necessarily mean misconduct cases of the kind I’ve highlighted regularly on this blog. Can therapists who are not regarded as committing some form of unethical practice inadvertently and unintentionally cause harm? Continue reading

April 16, 2014

Another questionably lenient misconduct outcome by the UKCP

The UKCP may have now achieved accredited voluntary register status with the Professional Standards Authority, but even now some of its misconduct decisions can raise a few eyebrows. In January 2014 they gave a Jungian analyst, Rob Waygood, a 6 month suspension for serious sexual misconduct with a client. With statutory regulators such as the General Medical Council or Nursing and Midwifery Council, such behaviour pretty much guarantees a striking-off, not 6 months on the naughty step.

Here’s another decision by UKCP that raises concern. In December 2013 an outcome was reached for Susan Clancy, a psychotherapist who seems to have inadvertently traumatised a client through some intervention that involved holding them. Misconduct was proved, but the UKCP simply decided not to issue a sanction. Continue reading

April 16, 2014

Cast your nominations for the #MindAwards 2014

Today the categories were announced for the Mind Media Awards, and you can nominate your favourite mental health voices to win.

Although most nominations cost £165 per nomination, there is no charge to nominate for the journalist, student journalist or blogger categories.

The blogger category seems to be replacing what was previously known as the Mark Hanson Award for Digital Media. In many ways I think that’s a shame, because there’s a lot of good stuff being done on other forms of social media (e.g. vlogs, Twitter) to talk about mental health. Then again, the winners from the last three years have all been blogs. In 2011, it was won by Confessions of a Serial Insomniac for her account of recovery from child sexual abuse and borderline personality disorder. In 2012 Mental Health Cop received the award for his detailed analyses of the intersection between policing and mental health. Purple Persuasion won in 2013 for her blog about recovery from bipolar disorder. Continue reading

April 4, 2014

The hollow shell of voluntary “regulation” for psychotherapy

Earlier this week I published an appalling press release from Regent’s University London. A psychotherapist, Andrea Scherzer, was struck off by the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy due to alcohol addiction, combined with what reads like a spectacular failure to engage honestly with her misconduct hearings at the BACP. Despite this, she continues to teach psychotherapy at Regent’s.

What does this say about the new system of “accredited voluntary registration” for counselling and psychotherapy?

It says to me that it’s a miserable failure. Continue reading

March 31, 2014

The struck-off therapist teaching psychotherapy – Regent’s University’s horrifying response

Last week I commented that a psychotherapist who has been struck off by the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy was still lecturing in psychotherapy at Regent’s University London. Andrea Scherzer had turned up to a therapy session drunk, leading not only to her striking-off but also dismissal for gross misconduct from an NHS trust. I didn’t get a response from Regent’s prior to publication, but they did promise they’d send me one today.

I’ve now had their response, and it’s….not what I expected. Actually it’s quite spectacularly jaw-dropping. I’ll quote it in full, interspersed with commentary from me. Continue reading

March 28, 2014

Something rotten in the psychotherapy dept at Regent’s University London?

A couple of weeks ago Jo D Baker sent me a spreadsheet of what’s happened to the 53 people struck off by the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy since 2005. Worryingly, 22% of them seemed to be still practising as counsellors or psychotherapists. Even more alarmingly, three of them were still registered with Britain’s other main therapy body, the UK Council for Psychotherapy.

If all that wasn’t concerning enough, one of those struck off by BACP but still with UKCP seemed to be teaching psychotherapy. Andrea Scherzer is a lecturer in the Department of Psychotherapy and Psychotherapy at Regents University London.

I decided to explore further. What happened next wasn’t in the least reassuring. Continue reading

March 26, 2014

Exeter counselling “cult” condemns British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy

The story so far…in February an Exeter-based counselling service, Palace Gate Counselling (also trading as Phoenix Counselling) took the unusual step of publishing a lengthy blog post, “The Conflict”. They stated that two other therapists have accused them of running a “therapeutic cult” (which they strongly deny) and that they were close to a disciplinary hearing against their firm. They didn’t state in “The Conflict” who the hearing was with, but it was clear from elsewhere on their blog that it was with the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy.

Today, Palace Gate have published a follow-up post, “Our Service, the BACP and the regulation debate”. As with the original post, it’s rather lengthy, but I’ll attempt to summarise it here: Continue reading

March 22, 2014

Guilty pleasures time! The Eurovision Song Contest and Me

Those of you who’ve tuned into my Twitter in recent weeks, expecting me to be talking about mental health, politics and therapy abuse, may have been rather disconcerted to find me live-tweeting various national selections from the Eurovision Song Contest. It’s been a fun and at times surreal ride for me, watching all these shows from across Europe and parts of Asia. I’ve seen Belarusians sing about cheesecake, Latvians sing about cake-baking. Electro-swing from Moldova! Irish sea-shanties from Germany! Oh yes, and possibly the most bizarre appeal for peace I’ve seen about the Ukraine crisis (from 2004 winner Ruslana, performing at the Belgian national selections). Continue reading

March 12, 2014

Does striking off a counsellor or psychotherapist stop them from working?

I’ve just been handed a pretty scary set of data-crunching. Jo D Baker is a regular commenter on this blog. He looked at this page which lists all the people struck off by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy since October 2005. He then did web searches to see if there was any evidence of them advertising their services as counsellors and psychotherapists. He collated the results into a spreadsheet which I’ve uploaded here – Copy of BACP Sinners & Outcomes 06032014.

The results were startling. Of the 53 counsellors and psychotherapists struck off in that period, 22% gave positive hits to websites that appeared to be advertising their services. Even more concerningly, three of them seem to be still registered with Britain’s other major psychotherapy organisation, the UK Council for Psychotherapy.

Here’s a few highlights from Jo’s spreadsheet. Continue reading

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