How not to do trauma therapy: A tale of two misconduct hearings

I must be spending too much time reading the various hearing outcomes on the UKCP and BACP websites. A year ago I posted about the case of Sue Clancy, where a client had been left traumatised in a therapy session gone badly wrong. I criticised the outcome, because despite finding that Clancy had committed misconduct and harmed the client, the UKCP declined to issue a sanction. Not even a warning.

Earlier this week, another sanction notice went up, this time on the BACP website. There were a lot of similarities between this case and Clancy’s, which seemed seemed to suggest it was the same incident. It gives more information about what has happened here, and it’s a disturbing tale.

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New memorandum of understanding on gay “conversion” therapies

A number of key bodies in mental health and psychotherapy have brought out a joint statement condemning so-called “conversion therapies” or “reparative therapies” which aim to turn gay people straight. The memorandum of understanding is signed by, among others, the Department of Health, the UK Council for Psychotherapy, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, and the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Continue reading

What kind of regulation for counselling and psychotherapy?

On this blog, I’ve highlighted the need for statutory regulation for counselling and psychotherapy. This is demonstrated by cases such as Palace Gate, where a counselling firm was struck off by the BACP due to 30 proven allegations, but has no legal impediment to stay in business. And indeed, still is in business.

What I haven’t talked about so much is what kind of regulation might work. Time to muster some thoughts.

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Strange goings-on at counselling training provider

In August 2014 the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy withdrew the membership of Chrysalis Courses Ltd, which provided training in counselling and hypnotherapy. Allegations were upheld over failure to provide appropriate feedback to coursework, and the company was heavily criticised for failing to respond to the allegations or to engage with the complaints process. According to the BACP the company was dissolved in May 2014.

However, there’s still a website up and running for Chrysalis Courses, advertising training in counselling and hypnotherapy. So what’s going on here?

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Struck-off psychotherapist still practising?

The UK Council for Psychotherapy recently struck off Raymond Spencer Holland for serious sexual misconduct with an “evidently vulnerable client.” They allege he “threatened [the client] in order to prevent her from reporting the matter” and “spoke with the absence of empathy towards [the client] whom he said he believed was ‘a fantasist’.” The UKCP found that he showed no remorse or insight into his actions.

But is he still practising? Web searches suggest he may well be.

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Exeter church plays Pontius Pilate over Palace Gate abuse case

In recent months I’ve covered the Palace Gate abuse case, in which the two directors of Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter, were struck off by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. John Clapham was found to have taken sexual advantage of two women during therapy sessions. His co-director Lindsey Talbott then aided him in a lengthy campaign of harassment and defamation against the complainants.

Palace Gate Counselling Service rents its premises in the Palace Gate Centre from South Street Baptist Church. Because counselling has only voluntary self-regulation rather than state regulation, Clapham and Talbott have been able to continue running their firm despite the striking-off order. Which is not to say their business hasn’t been impeded. Outside agencies have stopped referring clients there. Fundraisers have pulled their support. Even so, they’re still there at the Palace Gate Centre.

Which begs the question, why haven’t South Street Baptist Church evicted them from the premises? I now have a statement from the church.

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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

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

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

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