Why we told our story to The Mail on Sunday

[Guest post by Amanda Williamson and Tina Welch]

[The Palace Gate abuse case, which I’ve covered on this blog, has now been reported by the Mail on Sunday. Here, the complainants tells us why they’ve gone public with their experiences – Phil]

Note that the title says ‘told’ rather than ‘sold’. This is important as cynics may proffer that we did it to make money. We can assure you that it wasn’t done for publicity either. Both of us are very wary of the impact that sharing our story may have on our personal and professional lives. Taking Phoenix Counselling to a professional conduct hearing has already cost us both heavily, in personal, professional and financial terms.
We want to make it absolutely clear that our motivation consists of two clear aims:

1) Due to the lack of regulation of counselling and psychotherapy, despite having 30 allegations of misconduct proved against them, the directors of Phoenix Counselling Services aka Palace Gate Counselling Service, John Clapham  and Lindsey Talbott, can carry on as therapists and supervisors of therapists unimpeded. Our BACP complaints were bolstered by statements from several women affected by what they believe to be inappropriate suggestions regarding nakedness by John Clapham, and legal threats by Talbott and Clapham if they speak out or support us. There were independent complaints from Clapham’s other counselling agency, Taunton Counselling Service, of the same ilk (inappropriate suggestions around nakedness and touch). The staff there attempted to lodge a complaint with the BACP before they even heard about the trouble at Exeter, but were unable to as Clapham’s Taunton branch did not have BACP membership. Clapham and Talbott have shown zero remorse or self-reflection for their actions. We genuinely fear that abusive practice can and will continue and by the example they have made of us, they have made it clear that if anyone were to complain they would threaten and harass them and make their lives hell. In any event, given that they are no longer members of any professional body any malpractice can now carry on with no recourse for clients and supervisees.
We want our stories publicised as a matter of public protection.
) We are both appalled that the profession continues to be unregulated. As therapists we are very aware of the vulnerable situation that clients are in when they are sharing their most personal aspects of themselves. The position of trust that counsellors and psychotherapists are in is something we, and we believe most other therapists, respect and cherish. Unfortunately there are therapists who abuse that position of trust and we have personal experience of how that can happen, where trust is gradually built up over a period of time.  Not everybody may fully understand the nuances of the therapeutic relationship and that is why the onus is on the government, who’s job it is to help protect us,  rather than on members of the public themselves,  to have the professional knowledge to ensure that there is a system in place to ensure that abusive therapists who have been proven to act unethically are not allowed to continue.

We want our experiences to help the push for the regulation of what is currently a free for all to an actual profession.

The article can be found here.

If anybody is affected by the issues raised in the news article and wishes to seek help then suggested ports of call are:

The Clinic for Boundaries Studies
The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy
Catalyst Counselling

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