Exeter counselling service condemns “cult” allegations

This is odd. An Exeter-based counselling firm has published a lengthy blog post claiming to be under attack by certain nefarious individuals who have apparently accused them of running a “therapeutic cult.”

The firm in question is called Palace Gate Counselling Service. They have a very professional-looking website, as well as a blog which has a fair amount of somewhat New Agey content. The directors are John Clapham (who also runs Taunton Counselling Service and Phoenix Counselling Services) and Lindsey Talbott, who seems to be writing most of the blog content.

Talbott has a lot to say about this apparent attack. Her blog post, entitled, “The Conflict” is long. Very long, in fact. She must view this as something important, as there’s a link to it on the header bar of the blog’s main page. She states that a “battle between therapists” is taking place.

Here’s a few excerpts from the blog post.

All those involved are linked, some in multiple ways. So this is a group phenomenon – not a simultaneous ‘breaking cover’ of independent complaints. Clearly that makes a material difference to the overall picture, in terms of how group process operates, and the potential for cognitive dissonance/process contamination.

To us, it looks like a classic witch hunt. A group of people who have created, signed up to and perpetuated/cultivated a distorted reality, based on interpretation and assertion – unsupported and/or contradicted by the evidence.


In the past year, we/two of our other supervisors have been on the receiving end of five linked formal complaints to one membership association for therapists (besides those made to other organisations against the practitioner concerned by the same people). These five complaints were made by three therapists working collaboratively, the two complainants and one other…The evidence suggests to us not an intention to work through legitimate concerns in a legitimate way, but rather to cause damage and destruction.


The first complaint centred on ‘ethical concerns’ arising out of some therapy complainant A choose to do with our supervisor in private practice… the complainants also made some ancillary allegations about not liking how we do things as a person-centred service and/or our supervision arrangements (stating we do not do things in the ‘Proper’ way – which they see in terms of rules, formal policies and management committees)

There appears to be at least two complainants (who they refer to as Complainant A and Complainant B in the blog post). These complainants have been very busy by the sounds of the things. Talbott lists the people who she says have received complaints about Palace Gate:

– A organisation that offers training in another form of therapy (than person-centred talking therapy) in which the practitioner concerned had trained;
– A church;
– An organisation offering subscription membership and a professional conduct process for talking therapists;
– Our landlords (also a church);
– The Employment Tribunal Service – 3 linked claims (the complainants and one other);
– The police: repeated approaches in at least three towns, all by members of this group;
– Adult Safeguarding, initiated by the same people (when their police approaches failed);
– At least four different counselling training providers locally (we take placement students at this service);
– The Advertising Standards Authority;
– Repeated direct approaches to our own therapists;
– Highly unethical direct ‘cold’ approaches to least 3 private clients of the practitioner concerned;
– An anonymous complaint to our local M.P.

Wow, that’s a lot of people.

According to Talbott, all these complaints have been apparently unsuccessful. However, she also states, “We are now close to a hearing within another process.” She doesn’t say which process, but there’s references in the blog post to the Ethical Framework of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy. In another blog post, they say this.

We are also unhappy with the BACP’s handling of a conflict arising between us & a couple of other therapists. We therefore decided not to renew our membership when it came up for renewal in October 2013.

I think it’s safe to say something very bizarre and dramatic has happened here. On their “The Conflict” post, they also offer a prediction about what they suspect may happen next.

We are crystal clear that any form of decision against us will be used by the complainants as a base for further public comment

It sounds as though a very interesting tale may be about to unfold.

51 thoughts on “Exeter counselling service condemns “cult” allegations

  1. Well, counsellors under investigation have most likely behaved unethically in some way. But to have so many as to use the term ‘witch hunt’ suggests to me that there’s fire in the smoke. I hope whatever has been going on in the shadows is uncovered and brought into the light.

  2. This all seems slightly incredible, and I keep wondering if it can be the whole story. I hope you will keep us updated as to what is going on,

  3. It’s all a little odd and murky, and you truly have to wonder what is really happening. Alarm bells jangle when they state they chose not to renew BACP membership.

  4. I have personal experience of a well-known counselling “clinic” in London acting very much like a therapeutic cult unfortunately there is nothing therapeutic about it, it is abusive and can destroy lives. I will write more about this on my blog.

  5. I was interested to see this article by Zarathustra, a.k.a. Phil Dore, on our recent post about the conflict in which we are involved.

    I do indeed ‘view this as something important’. Very important, in fact, for reasons that our post outlines.

    On the face of it, Zarathustra’s post seems an open-minded comment on something we chose to put in the public arena. The quotations are all accurate, although I have a small question mark about Zarathustra’s motivation for his selection of quotations.

    If you would like to read the full story in our words, Zarathustra has included the link. As he says, our post is rather long. But, like him, you may find it interesting.

    There is a slight inaccuracy in Zarathustra’s article. He quotes our list of 12 or so concurrent complaints, all emanating from the same group of therapists (centred around two people who used to work with us at this service). Zarathustra comments: ‘According to Talbott, all these complaints have been apparently unsuccessful’. That seems to me somewhat misleading.

    What we in fact said was this:-

    ‘So far, four official processes have concluded, all in our favour and/or that of the practitioner concerned. There has been no finding against us or that practitioner, and no finding in favour of the complainants.’

    We also gave some specific information about the specific complaints (of the list of 12), including outcomes where we know them.

    Clearly this is not a major inaccuracy by Zarathustra, and may be accidental. Nonetheless, I am choosing to correct it.

    I have a further issue. My take on Zarathustra’s article is that he is presenting himself as ‘uninvolved, but interested’. Fair enough. Except I am not convinced Zarathustra IS uninvolved.

    For a considerable time, one of the complainants has published references to Zarathustra’s internet comment, including on the ‘Not So Big Society’ blog. That complainant has also had direct interaction with Zarathustra, and they appear to share some ideology, e.g. strongly pro counselling regulation.

    This suggests to me that Zarathustra’s post may be disingenuous, come from a position of undisclosed knowledge, and bring an undisclosed agenda. If so, I have issues with that from an ethical/congruence perspective. My guess is that his next post may be rather less neutral in tone.

    I may be wrong – I am open to that possibility. However, I want to state my unease, and my reasons for it.

    I also note that Zarathustra omits from his selected quotations our stated reasons for making the – clearly unconventional – choice to publish ‘The Conflict’ in the first place. We did this in response to repeated public comment by those involved (as well as approaches to inappropriate third parties from the outset, described in our post). In view of this, we decided it was important for this service to have a voice.

    Zarathustra also omits another point included in our own post:-

    ‘In our 18 year history, we have never experienced a client or a therapist engaging in an external complaints process. To put this in context, we currently see some 160 clients a week, and around 30 therapists choose to work with us (often for many years).’

    Obviously we do now have two therapists engaging in an external complaints process. It remains the case that no client of this service has ever engaged in such a process. We have given the context for this above, in terms of client numbers.

    Interestingly, Zarathustra refers to Phoenix Counselling Services in his article, the not-for-profit company of which ‘Palace Gate Counselling Service’ is the trading name. Although this is readily ascertainable public information, it does not feature in our two blog posts to which Zarathustra links. He has also included a number of other links, for example to my personal blog and a colleague’s private practice website. Zarathustra certainly does seem to be taking an interest. It appears he has done a little research on us, or perhaps does indeed have some prior information about this matter.

    He has also tagged our service name and my/my colleague’s names within his post.

    I note some of Zarathustra’s comments seem to come from those who show signs of enjoying a witch hunt themselves, and may be willing to make assumptions and judgements without evidence. I find myself wondering if Zarathustra will publish my comment?

    Zarathustra ends by saying ‘It sounds as though a very interesting tale may be about to unfold’. Personally I question the benefit of further public tellings of this tale, however ‘interesting’ it may be to Zarathustra or other readers. This is because at the heart of this situation are human beings, who have already experienced varying – and considerable – degrees of pain and damage in their lives, as a result of this conflict. We recognize that includes the complainants, however much we may challenge their behaviour and motivations.

    However, if the complainants (or indeed commentators like Zarathustra) choose to publish further material, we will publish reflective responses, with supporting evidence to the extent necessary – in defence of our clients, therapists and an according-to-means service which has had an excellent reputation and served Exeter for the past 18 years.

    My own preferences notwithstanding, I anticipate there may well be further ‘unfolding’ in the wind. That will be what it will be.

    Lindsey Talbott, Therapist and Supervisor
    Palace Gate Counselling Service

    • Hi Lindsey

      Thanks for your comment, which as you can see I’ve published. I also note your e-mail in which you state, “You have speculated about the possibility that our comment in The Conflict ‘we are now close to a hearing in another process’ refers to the BACP. I am not going to comment to you at present about what the hearing is or whom it’s with. We will, of course, be commenting further in due course, when there is something more of substance to say.”

      Yes, it’s true to say I’ve had some interaction with one of the complainants, mainly via Twitter, just as I am now speaking to you.

      And yes, it’s true to say that I’m in favour of statutory regulation for counselling and psychotherapy.

      These complainants do seem very exercised and very keen to depict you as some sort of “therapeutic cult”, as you say they’ve called you. Without wanting to say “no smoke without fire” or anything like that, why do you think they’re going to these extraordinary lengths? What’s their motive?

  6. Pingback: The Conflict – Update & Zarathustra | Palace Gate Counselling Service

  7. Gosh, that Palace Gate do like to go on. And on. And on. And on and on and on and on and on. I wonder if they let clients speak at all during counselling sessions …?

    • Given the amount of time this Lindsay individual’s posts must have taken to write, I am wondering if there’s actually any time left for clients at all? Judging by the defensive tone, that may not be a bad thing.

      Clearly this process has been deeply stressful for everyone involved, both to those who have brought the complaints and to those who have received them.

      I would, however, wonder why anyone would consider going through the harrowing and time consuming process of making a complaint if there was no substance to it…particularly, as it’s apparent that more than one person has made a complaint.

      As others have already suggested: surely no smoke without fire?

      Finally, there are a lot of vulnerable individuals out there looking for help and I think it’s imperative that they are protected from ANY potential risk of harm. For this reason, I cannot understand why ANYONE would NOT be in favour of statutory regulation. What would there be to fear, unless one was practising unethically?

  8. Not sure why the ‘complainants’ would have wasted all the time and effort to go to so much trouble unless there were serious worries about this counselling service. The fact that they are not renewing their BACP membership, and therefore do not need to abide by their code of ethics, is also very worrying. Why would they do this if they have done nothing wrong? #somethingfishygoingon

    • “Not sure why the ‘complainants’ would have wasted all the time and effort to go to so much trouble unless there were serious worries about this counselling service.”


      There seems to be a very obvious motive set out in the essay, namely that of competition, given that the complainant has set up a rival service.

      Why is the principle of innocent-before-proven-guilty so easily ignored around here?

      • I would agree with you that the owners of Palace Gate have a right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

        Though the same would also be true of any suggestion that the complainants are acting to promote a commercial venture under the guise of claiming to expose misconduct. If the complainants have done so, then that would be an outrageous abuse of process on their part. However, if they have not acted for such reasons, then any suggestion that they did would be quite spectacularly defamatory.

      • I’ve seem this kind of dispute in companies of all sorts, including those that have nothing to do with health. People fall out with associations or firms that they work with, make accusations, twist events, get things out of proportion and set up in competition all the time. There doesn’t seem to be a public health issue here, except that if it is picked up by a blog with your interests, it might well put people off using the service or harm the trust between it and those using it. Reputations are easily tarnished.

        If the accusation turns out to be baseless, it could also be considered a serious defamation but you don’t seem worried about that. In fact, you seem to be fanning the flames. You use the “I’m not going to say, no-smoke-without-fire-BUT…” gambit to hint at exactly that on the basis of the “extraordinary lengths” the complainants have gone to. You ask the centre about the complainant’s motives when they have already answered that question in the original piece.

        Your commenters have not been so responsible and are ready to call no-somke-without-fire despite your self-restraint.

        Are you happy to carry observations such as that of Sectioned who says,

        “Gosh, that Palace Gate do like to go on. And on. And on. And on and on and on and on and on. I wonder if they let clients speak at all during counselling sessions …?”

        Does Sectioned know these people? Do we think this kind of slur is an acceptable thing to put on the record?

        No smoke without fire is the cry of the fact-free witch-hunt. You are in danger of conducting an armchair trial-by-media with your gossiping and insinuation. Why is it your business? This is not your finest hour, Zarathustra.

  9. Sorry, Skeptical Reader, perhaps I’m not understanding the concept of not-for-profit counselling service. A direct competition over not-for-profit services would create…what? I mean if I was going to emulate an organisation and attempt to discredit them I’d probably pick something that would result in a whole-bunch-of-profit. I’m afraid I don’t see the idea of competing in a business sector where there is little money as a legitimate motivator to create a false complaint. But if there is competition this counselling firm doesn’t seem bothered by the fact that they aren’t members of the BACP any longer, surely that won’t win them more not-for-profit customers.

    • “I’m afraid I don’t see the idea of competing in a business sector where there is little money as a legitimate motivator to create a false complaint.”

      Perhaps you haven’t been around small organisations much, but there are many potential motivations for conflict in human interactions that have nothing to do with money. I have seen it many times. Since we are in a quasi-professional forum, I will take the opportunity to suggest you read Bion.

      My point is not about whether this is what has happened here or not. I simply don’t know. My point is that neither do you, nor Zarathustra, so refraining from gossip-spreading while proper processes are taking place is the wiser course.

      • I may get the chance to read Bion. And I agree that there are many motivations for human conflict, it just seems like there’s a lot of fuss made over setting up competing no profit orgs.
        I’m not sure why you’re accusing me of gossip spreading though. That accusation I find very strange.

      • “I’m not sure why you’re accusing me of gossip spreading though.”

        I wasn’t aware that I had, Bennyjorm.

  10. ‘My point is not about whether this is what has happened here or not. I simply don’t know. My point is that neither do you, nor Zarathustra, so refraining from gossip-spreading while proper processes are taking place is the wiser course.’

    How would you take it?

    • Well, I have certainly suggested that Zarathustra crossed a line.

      You questioned a point I had made about without crossing the same line, as I understood it. I apologise if, in repeating my original observation after discussing your question, I was not sufficiently clear that I was not accusing you also.

      • I don’t think I’ve crossed any lines. I’m merely observing statements that have already been put into the public domain by Palace Gate.

      • “I don’t think I’ve crossed any lines.”

        Good. So will you join with me in pointing out that some of your commenters including jenny1978, diogenes and hiddenwholeness are unwise to pronounce that there is no smoke without fire without knowing the facts?

      • I’m sure the facts will become evident in due course.

      • “I’m sure the facts will become evident in due course.”

        Perhaps, perhaps not. Why should that be the case, if this concerns internal organisational matters and not client facing ones.

        The issue is that until something substantial does appear, if it ever does, you are doing nothing but gossiping on the record. My view is that that is unprofessional and damaging to the profession and that you would be wiser minding your own business.

  11. Very interesting…when an organisation decides not to renew its professional membership…what message is this sending to its clients? Doctors have to be members of the GMC and abide by their ethical code. I think it should be the same for counsellors.

    Palace Gate has been operating for quite some time and undoubtedly has helped hunderds of people and it should be commended for this. However I am aware of some of the particulars re. allegations that have been made against certain individuals within the organisation and have been alarmed by what I have heard.

  12. I thought this blog was a fair website. A blog against unfair, unjust and hurtful treatment. Thats why I followed it. Maybe I misunderstood,

    I am so disappointed to read these posts against this counselling center. Either people here know more than I do about the “case” hence the obvious hostility towards this counselling centre, or this attacking and potentially damaging behaviour is coming from a hostility unconnected to the “case”.

    Why cause hurt to people (living human beings) without knowing the full story This is about peoples lives, When I read posts on this blog concerning this counselling center I am so shocked how detached they are from feelings and compassion and empathy and genuine curiosity. To me the posts read manipulative with the goal to attract and destroy.

    If people want to know the outcome of this “case” why not wait until it is visible on the BACP name and shame list? There will be all the facts. I just dont understand why these posts appear on the web BEFORE a judgement was made.

    “sceptical reader” – If I were you I would stop trying to “make them hear you”. This conversation is not based on genuine curiosity but is coming from a place of wanting to cause hurt to you, for whatever reason, maybe these people know more then I do and you “deserve” it but from what I know… no one deserves such a treatment until proven guilty,

    • No idea why people leaping to conclusions here but I can hazard a guess. The Palace Gate service have invited comment by writing that lengthy blog post which displays a distinct lack of empathy and compassion towards people who, for reasons as yet unknown to us, have raised a number of complaints.

      It does appear that the Palace Gate are desperate and alarm bells ring as to why this detailed, one-sided blog post has been written prior to the complaints processes concluding. They are effectively telling their clients that they are facing complaints, engage in a particularly lengthy explanation of why the complainants are lying, whilst also making it clear that their clients now have no way of complaining should the need arise.

      I feel quite justified in expressing my concerns on what the Palace Gate service has made it a point to bring to the public’s attention. I wouldn’t call that gossip.

      Zarathustra’s follow up post also raises alarm bells. It seems that certainly Lindsay Talbott has been engaging in psyops for quite some time.

      • “I feel quite justified in expressing my concerns on what the Palace Gate service has made it a point to bring to the public’s attention. I wouldn’t call that gossip.”

        Well, I am sorry, but I would and do call it gossip. “Hazarding a guess” as a substitute for evidence when justifying baseless criticism is about as close a definition of gossip as I can think of.

        Do you actually know any details of the situation? On what evidence are your concerns based? Why is your opinion important? Do you even know if any harm has been alleged to have occurred to a service user? How closely have you reflected on your own intentions in criticising something you know nothing about?

        Put your fire detectors away, people. Sometimes, you see smoke where there are only clouds. Gossip about other services without evidence when we now have everything in place to handle complaints properly is unethical.

        There are plenty of other issues facing us. As our resources are cut further and further, it is more important than ever that we don’t take it out on each other. There is a real problem facing us. How do we get the psych services that the country needs properly funded? This is a much harder battle to fight, but where we have platforms such as this, we need to stop playing pointy-finger over questions that have been largely resolved and think about what really matters.

    • I’m not pronouncing them guilty-until-proven-innocent. Palace Gate are of course entitled to considered innocent until provent guilty.

      But they’ve made a decision to suddenly announce this dispute in a very public way. For whatever reason, they’ve put this stuff out there on there on the internet for everyone to see. Whether they’re innocent or guilty, that’s a very odd decision for them to make.

      • “For whatever reason, they’ve put this stuff out there on there on the internet for everyone to see. Whether they’re innocent or guilty, that’s a very odd decision for them to make.”

        Well, I doubt that they are professional PR people. I don’t think that tells us anything very much. What is very important is that reputations are not damaged without all the facts being carefully examined. Imagine how destabilising for service users it might be to see a blog that campaigns against therapist abuse pick up an organisational issue and insinuate that there might be something sinister going on, with no evidence at all.

        On the one hand, it is sad to see this blog lose its credibility by mistaking gossip for campaigning journalism. You have done some good work in the past, Zarathustra. On the other hand, maybe it is a positive sign. Now that proper process is in place in all of the institutions that you have criticised, there is less need for that kind of work and indeed it can even become counter-productive to the cause that you espouse if it interferes with and second-guesses due process.

  13. “There seems to be a very obvious motive set out in the essay, namely that of competition, given that the complainant has set up a rival service.”

    I find that as gossipy as anything else on here.

    No doubt you will want the last word.

    • HAC writes:

      “There seems to be a very obvious motive set out in the essay, namely that of competition, given that the complainant has set up a rival service.”

      I find that as gossipy as anything else on here.

      I respond:

      1) Somebody, in the heat of a difficult situation, under a lot of pressure, trying to sort things out by puts out a blog setting out their position, probably unwisely.

      2) A load of other people who are not connected and who have access to none of the facts of the case make sneering insinuations on another blog.

      Can you see the difference, HAC? To my way of thinking, it is those here that are engaging in gossip, not the Exeter Counselling Service. It is none of your business. We need to be standing up for people working, in this case, volunteering in our profession, not slinging mud at them, mindlessly.

      HAC writes:

      No doubt you will want the last word.

      I respond:

      It is for those who have made the insinuations to apologise for them.

  14. I would like to invite Lindsey Talbott to explain precisely why Palace Gate has not renewed its BACP membership? I would have thought that in the interests of their service users this sort of professional membership is vital. To abide by an ethical code set out by a professional body such as this sends out a reassuring message AND provides a proper framework for complaints processes it they arise. I would have thought Palace Gate has nothing at all to gain and an awful lot to lose by forgoing this. Have they just fallen out with the BACP in particular and decided to join up to a different professional body? Please help me understand how such a decision is justified?

  15. Given the lack of BACP involvement, I’m intrigued to know about how Palace Gate goes about managing complaints now? Who is Palace Gate accountable to? I’m with lmx302, what’s so wrong with the BACP? It does give an odd message that membership has been withdrawn at such a time when their support would be very useful.

    And unfortunately I do also agree that any publicly aired post that has a comment box, welcomes feedback, in what ever guise it may come.

    • I quite agree. If, hypothetically speaking, a future client wanted to make a complaint against Palace Gate, who would they make it to? I feel Ms Talbott should answer that question.

    • So, Macfarlane had a second victim? That’s not the same woman as in the case that got him suspended, though the MO is exactly the same.

      On one level it’s good that the mainstream media is finally starting to take an interest in these issues. Sadly though, I can’t help but feel that the Daily Mail have got the tone of the article very wrong. “Seduced”? “Affair”? It reads to me like the grooming and exploitation of a vulnerable adult.

    • “And while we’re on this theme…”

      What theme? Has somebody accused Palace Gate of abusing clients?

      No. There are not even clients involved as far as we know.

      This would appear to be more insinuation of the worst kind. There are McFarlane posts on this blog to which you could have attached this comment.

      Do you only see sex predation when you see conflict involving a therapist?

  16. -“What theme? Has somebody accused Palace Gate of abusing clients? ”

    No, I see no accusations of sexual abuse. The issue for me is one of regulation. If PG are able to withdraw from BACP membership there is no regulatory mechanism whereby clients or fellow practitioners can obtain redress. And worse should there be malpractice they can continue in business. (I thought the BACP had closed down the withdrawal of membership loophole, at least in so far as there would have to be a formal hearing to determine the complaint?)

    – “This would appear to be more insinuation of the worst kind. There are McFarlane posts on this blog to which you could have attached this comment.”

    That’s your perception, not my intention. This blog has had a focus on issues of regulation in the talking therapies for a long time and I find the MacFarlane case relevant to the issue of regulation and contemporaneous.

    You seem to be very close to telling me where I can put comments on a blog. I rather think that is up to the moderator, not you.

    I’ll leave you with the words of the victim of MacFarlane in the DM article:

    “Meanwhile, I have been left without redress. It is criminal that there is no national body regulating psychotherapists. It means any rogue can practise, any charlatan can exploit vulnerable clients … without fear of reprisal.”

    Over and out…

    • “You seem to be very close to telling me where I can put comments on a blog. I rather think that is up to the moderator, not you.”

      My point is that now, since you have chosen to gossip about it in the way that you have, in the comments here, whenever anyone chooses to google these people, they will find talk of abuse. Many people are not going to sift through the logic of it in order to discover that you are talking about that matter without relevance to the group about whom this thread relates. That seems to me to be irresponsible and unprofessional on your part. You can’t even manage to reply withough insinuating that,

      “any rogue can practise, any charlatan can exploit vulnerable clients … without fear of reprisal.”

      Nobody has suggested that this practice has exploited vulnerable clients. Again, you are engaging in stupid gossip

      • Out of interest, SR, what do you think of Palace Gate’s responses, which I’ve published in my most recent blog post?

      • PG have made their own comments about this on this blog. Talking about me gossiping is way off the mark. The last quotation was from a Daily Mail article where a victim of therapy abuse rightly asks what a client can do if their is no professional organisation. All straightforward, you’re overwrought my friend. Go and have a lie down…bless

      • I think, Zarathustra, that they sound like very well-meaning people who are doing their best to deal with the cut-and-thrust of managing a small service. I see, in their correspondence, no reason at all to suspect that clients are being badly treated. There is no reason not to take them at their word. Since they are speaking of resignation as an organisational member of the BACP rather than as individuals, the complaints issue is something of a red herring.

      • According to this site Ms Talbott has also resigned her individual membership of the BACP.

  17. Commentators here have raised two points. I have a brief response.

    Why did we post ‘The Conflict’?

    We took the unorthodox choice to post ‘The Conflict’ for the reasons stated in it. Obviously there are ethical and confidentiality implications. If the complainants had confined themselves to an appropriate, confidential process, we would not have posted it. Instead they made widespread allegations over 18 months to all kinds of inappropriate third parties. Much of this takes the form of gossip between therapists. Complainant A has also made wide public comment – without names, but with enough context to identify us in the small Exeter therapeutic world (especially given the gossip etc). This has caused considerable reputational damage. It disregards fundamental principles of human rights/justice. In these circumstances – and with further defamatory accounts of this conflict by the complainants this year (in private and public contexts) – we decided to say something. It’s a question of balance, and fairness.

    Leaving the BACP

    We have already commented on our decision to leave the BACP in our service blog. We have published client and therapist facing ethos statements to inform clients and incoming therapists about how we work. We will in due course comment further on the regulation debate, and our current service stance/choices. I am not going to pre-empt that here. I do want to say that making a simple equation between regulation and ethical practice suggests to me a limited understanding of a complex subject, and mixes two distinct issues. The regulation debate is one issue, what constitutes ethical practice and most serves/enhances this is another. As a person-centred therapist working for a person-centred service, I find this article a useful contribution to the regulation debate: http://palacegatecounsellingservice.wordpress.com/2013/12/10/a-collision-of-worlds-by-brian-thorne/

    Lindsey Talbott, Therapist & Supervisor
    Palace Gate Counselling Service

    • Hi Lindsey

      Thanks for this clarification.

      I notice you make reference to Brian Thorne’s arguments against regulation of counselling and psychotherapy.

      I note that Professor Thorne has himself been the subject of some controversy. See here: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/410179.article

      The controversy is with regard to sessions he held in the 1980s, in which he and a female client got naked and drank alcohol together, in a situation in which he didn’t appear to have gained informed consent.

      Of course, it goes without saying that any of the statutory regulators would regard this as gross misconduct, of a variety that would almost certainly warrant a striking-off.

      He also has been criticised for speaking in support of Derek Gale, who was struck off by the Health Professions Council for physically, sexually, emotionally and financially abusing his clients.

      Do these actions by Professor Thorne discredit his anti-regulation stance?

    • Linsey, one of the questions asked was if you were seeking membership of another regulatory body. Are you able to answer please?

      Also, you seem to suggest that by an organisation behaving ethically one eliminates the need for regulation. Surely you can appreciate that people or organisations behave in unethical ways, yet still believe they are in the right?

  18. Pingback: The Exeter counselling service denying “cult” allegations – Palace Gate responds | The Not So Big Society

  19. It might be worth drawing people who read this blog’s attention to your latest posts on this Z, eg the one regarding the damning BACP hearings results
    (two strikings off!)


    I also wrote about it here in the interest of protecting potential clients and supervisees of these people:


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