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”.

Continue reading

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

May 15, 2014

Shocking litany of abuse by Exeter counselling cult, 30 allegations found proved

Palace Gate Counselling Services (also known as Phoenix Counselling Services, and Taunton Counselling Service) have been no stranger to this blog recently. In February this Exeter-based firm published a lengthy online article claiming to be under attack from two other therapists who they said had accused them of running a “therapeutic cult”. In April they announced that they had been struck off by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) a decision they bitterly contest but have not appealed against.

The BACP have now published the withdrawal of membership notice – two withdrawal notices, in fact: one for each complainant – under their trading name of Phoenix Counselling Services. It is horrific. No less than 30 allegations against the firm have been found proved. Continue reading

April 23, 2014

BREAKING NEWS: Exeter counselling “cult” struck off by British Association for 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 for 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

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