A second therapist commits serious sexual misconduct, is not struck off

Back in April I broke the news of Geoffrey Pick, a psychotherapist registered with the Arbours Association and UK Council for Psychotherapy. After conducting an “inappropriate relationship” with one of his patients, he was suspended for a year instead of struck off. He was then allowed to re-register with the Arbours and UKCP. Only when it came to media attention did he resign his registration. Shockingly, I’ve now discovered that this is not the only case of its kind.

A couple of months ago I was researching this blog post, which I wrote after I’d noticed that a high percentage of psychotherapists facing misconduct hearings seemed to be Jungians (Pick was from a Jungian background). It was pointed out to me that there was a case involving a Jungian that didn’t appear in the UKCP complaints archive. Stuart Macfarlane had been suspended for two years by the Guild of Analytical Psychologists (formerly the Guild for Analytical Psychology and Spirituality). The details of what he did were rather vague.

Stuart MacFarlane has been found to be in breach of the GAP Code of Ethics 2008 (1.7) in
two areas:
1. personal relationships – infringing and violating the trust of a client
2. inadequate standards of practice.

He has also been found to have breached the Code of Ethics 2008 (3.6) concerning
Professional Boundaries:

3.6 psychotherapists shall not take advantage of or exploit the dependent nature of the
therapeutic relationship, current or past, for example with regard to fees, sex or in any
other respect.

These breaches constitute Serious Professional Misconduct under section 7.1(b) of the
Code of Ethics.

I’ve since been able to establish that Mr Macfarlane engaged in serious sexual misconduct with a client. The individual in question is a vulnerable adult with mental health difficulties. As a consequence of his actions, she experienced a deterioration in her mental health. She continues to receive psychiatric support.

To give a comparison of what would usually be the sanction, here’s the indicative sanctions guidance for my own regulator, the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

In all cases of serious sexual misconduct, it will be highly likely that the only proportionate sanction will be a striking-off order. If panels decide to impose a sanction other than a striking-off order, then they will need to be particularly careful in explaining clearly and fully the reasons why they made such a determination, so that it can be understood by those who have not heard all of the evidence in the case.

Macfarlane, however, was not struck off. He received a two-year suspension order. Potentially at the end of this he could be allowed to rejoin the Boy’s Club, sorry, Guild of Analytical Psychologists, and resume practice. Oh, and he was also ordered to write a letter of apology to the client and refund her fees – as though she’s a dissatisfied customer at Sainsbury’s rather than somebody subjected to the worst possible breach of boundaries.

I e-mailed the GAP. They declined to elaborate further on his misconduct besides the information posted online. I asked why he was not struck off and whether he would be allowed to re-register. They replied, “The decision reached was in accordance with the complaints process set out under the G.A.P. Complaints Procedure Code, which emphasises the confidentiality of the proceedings. We are unable to comment on an individual’s possibility of being allowed to re-register until the suspension period has ended, and such matters as compliance with the sanctions have been considered.”

And why is his case not in the UKCP’s online complaints archive? The outcomes listed there are, by and large, far less serious than Macfarlane’s. In case there’s any doubt that Macfarlane was a UKCP therapist, here’s his entry on the register, dated 29th October 2011.

Stuart Macfarlane UKCP Page

I e-mailed the UKCP to ask why he’s not in the archive, and if he will be allowed to rejoin the UKCP register. I haven’t so far received a reply. [Edited to add: the UKCP have now responded]

I did, however, get a reply from Macfarlane himself.

Thank you for your email, and for giving me the opportunity to answer your questions in advance of your publishing. I have made a mistake and I am doing all I can to make amends, including attending therapy weekly.
I broadly support your goal to improve and standardise regulation across the psychotherapy profession, but as I do not agree with the way you are going about it, I shall not be engaging any further with you about this .
However, I wish you well.
Another therapist who has completely overstepped the mark with his client, resulting in catastrophic consequences to a vulnerable person. And this time next year he could possibly be practising again.
Utterly unbelievable.

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