We can all agree that the public needs protection from unethical practice. We are clear that we need to comply with that ethical practice.
However, when our governing body does not apply the same code of ethics as we do, the level of trauma experienced by the therapist cannot be underestimated.
My case related to couples therapy.
I made it clear that they would both need individual work before couple work.
I was verbally abused and physically intimidated by the complainant the second time I saw them. I raised the subject of abuse with them, made it clear that this was unhelpful, and in accordance with good practice, stated that I regretted that I would not be able to work with them.
I carried out all the protocols of contacting my supervisor.
The complainant insisted on wanting to see me again.
I spoke to my supervisor again and took guidance. I signposted the complainant in writing to where individual support could be gained.
They continued to demand that they see me personally.
This is when the obsessive harassment and persecution started:
- Multiple text messages
- Letters through the door
- Lengthy emails
- Looking through the window of my home and hanging around my home
- Accosting me in the street.
Each time, I contacted my supervisor: too many times to count. I did nothing without their guidance.
- my insurance,
- spoke to police.
- Contacted the ethical body helpline twice. I pleaded for help. I didn’t want to inflame the situation.
I explained to the ethical body that I was fearful for my safety. Their only response was to speak to my supervisor.
Months passed. The harassment continued. Then I was contacted by my ethical body telling me that a complaint against me had been received.
The complainant wrote thousands of words covering a plethora of topics, all apparently matched to elements of the ethical body’s framework. It was a skilfully contrived vast catalogue of misdemeanours designed to incriminate me.
The issues are too many to list here but most were trivial. One allegation was that I had set out the layout of an email badly. It was ridiculous to say the least. It was clear they were struggling mentally. It would not take a professional to ascertain from the tone and length of the complaint that the complainant was unwell. However, the ethical body was unable to see this.
Not only did they fail to see this, but they spent three years conducting the process. During all this time the harassment continued.
I sought specialist advice. I was warned that this type of stalking could escalate to dangerous proportions. I logged it with lawyers. My ethical body aided my stalker all this time by delaying the process and breaking a number of their own ethical framework issues. If I had committed even a fraction of these I would be struck off, and rightly so.
My case was allocated to a practice review. None of the allegations were upheld, but the body raised a “lesser” issue. Nevertheless, every single allegation was published on the body’s complaint’s case website for the world to see and do what they want with. This contravened the body’s own published practice rules.
My name was tarnished because when people see allegations they often conclude that there is “no smoke without fire!” My ethical body had aided and abetted a very unwell person for years, seriously damaging my practice as well as my own mental health. They had been alerted to this months prior to the complaint but chose to take no notice.
The organisation that I was so proud to be part of, I emblazoned across my website, had become my tormentor. It had become an organisational bully. Its behaviour contradicted the ethics it requires its members to adhere to under punishment of sanction.
It allowed my stalker to use my ethical body as a weaponised tool to inflict as much damage on me as possible and my ethical body would not challenge this unwell person.
The ethical body further demonstrated its incompetence by misdirecting emails to me clearly not for me. That indicated that the complainant had a direct line to them having, multiple conversations.
The body had failed to help me when sought advice and protection before any complaint was made, and then failed to protect me when it arrived
During the three years the body deliberated over this absurd complaint, I was afraid to leave my house alone; I had a supervisor telling me I should move house; I needed lengthy support for my PSTD and the trauma of putting my family through a process that was clearly supportive of my stalker and which offered no support or understanding for me.
After many years of a completely unblemished record, I was held captive by both my ethical body and by a client who was very unwell. I have survived but not without scars.
Do I hold any ill feeling for my stalker? NO. My clinical education provides me with the compassion and understanding that this person had fallen through the net. They needed wrap around care from a specialist team and not a private practitioner. We have a growing mental health problem in this country and sadly we have people seeking help from private practitioners when they should be supported by a team of experts.
Do I hold ill feeling for my ethical body? Organisations should be held accountable and surely with power comes responsibility. My ethical body wields enormous power but with very few checks and balances. Challenging an ethical body is a Goliath task and for that I am grateful to Therapists4justice meetings for all their support. We need ethical bodies to protect the public and at the same time protect their members from abuse rather than inflicting it!
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