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002 – Therapist Beware! You Might Not Survive Your Ethical Body’s Complaint Process

I am a new therapist to the group, as I had a dreadful experience with a registered body recently, so much so that they withdrew my membership after an unblemished and proven 20 year record because I could not comply with a sanction.  

I thought that I had complied with one of the sanctions by changing the way I offer therapy/supervision to clients/supervisees, but my registered body said I had not met the sanction requirements but would not tell me how I had not me their standards nor would they give me any advice on what I needed to do to comply.  

My crime:  I offered counselling to a client when they were known to me (I did this from a place of rescue and kindness) and I had counselled someone very close to them 2 years before I had ever met this client through my work in the public sector.  My membership has been withdrawn for this and I feel that I have no voice.  They said that I had gone against their “authority” as a registered body.  

I paid my membership to this body but they said that any complaints are handled by independent panels and therefore they don’t have any dealing with a complaint so I wonder who I was paying my membership to.

I cannot get anyone in this registered body to listen or be compassionate or at least look at the possibility that this complaint was vexatious as the complainant has done this to 3 other therapists before me.  The issue was investigated in my place of work before it went to the registered body with no case to answer but the registered body took no account of this at all.

I wish I had the union on my side or knew about the union in 2021 when the complaint was made because they could have helped me in the practice review hearing.  I did not go to a disciplinary hearing; I went to a practice review hearing and because I would not apologise to the complainant (although I had done so 4 times throughout the process) I feel that the registered body punished me without any thought as to how I can practice without a membership.  

As a therapist I show compassion and empathy and unconditional positive regard and respect to my clients.  This is the cornerstone of my skills as a therapist.  I mirror this behaviour in clinical supervision but it saddens me to see that the registered body showed none of this to me.  In fact the client said at the practice review hearing that he had benefited from counselling and had only taken the complaint to the registered body because he believed that I had breached his confidentiality.  This was encouraged by his manager who had in fact breached his confidentiality.  This was born out in the fact finding investigation by my then employer.

There were times when I was close to wanting not to be here any more as this process has taken 2 years out of my life (2020 to the end of 2022), I’ve lost my mum and my sister while this was going on plus I lost 2 aunts in COVID.   I no longer work as a counsellor as I feel unable to trust anymore.

I really thought that I would be supported by my registered body in this case.  I urged the complainant to take the matter to my registered body because I was confident that the registered body would look at the case on it’s merits and for fairness and justice to prevail. How wrong I was.  

Therapists beware:  I say this to all my supervisees now ( as I cannot work any longer with no professional membership).  For a professional organisation who promotes good practice, support to members and compassion and ethics at the heart of what they do, I found none of this when an issue arose for me.  I found that the registered body silenced me and without a doubt is on the side of this serial complainant who, for me had serious mental health issues that only I and the mental health team were aware of.  My ethical body took no account of this and so I felt alone and now, I don;t know what the future is for me.  

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  1. R, Home counties

    There are many similarities to the way in which I experienced a lack of congruence by my governing body (the BXXX). I was subject to their complaints procedure. It took over two years before it was found that I had not breached the code of ethics. There were several examples of a lack of neutrality through the stressful process. In particular a persecutory approach at several stages which required the full legal support of a solicitor and barrister. I strongly advise members to consider options regarding which membership body to align with and to be aware that some ethical bodies have procedures regarding complaints that go close to breaching human rights’ laws

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