22 July 2014

A Very Warm Welcome - Counselling in Exeter



I am a professional, qualified, BACP registered counsellor practising in central Exeter, Devon. I work privately from premises on Gandy St, in the centre of town, with a wide spectrum of people with differing presenting issues. Warm and approachable, I have the utmost respect for my client's individuality and life circumstances. 




This site is where you can find out information about counselling, my personal approach and services offered, and some details about my background, by clicking on the information tabs above. This is also a blogsite which I use to make regular posts about my work and continuing professional development as a counsellor. Click here for my Articles.


I would be very happy to discuss your requirements should you be interested in coming along for counselling. Embarking on a course of counselling can be daunting and I aim to help you feel relaxed and confident that you make the choice that is right for you.

Please, whoever you decide to have counselling with,  whether individual or agency, ensure that they are a member of a professional body such as the BACP or UKCP. Without membership of a self-regulating professional body then clients have no recourse should they feel that they are being treated unethically. At the moment, there is nothing to stop people practising as counsellors without this protection for their clients. I researched and wrote about this topic on this post about the regulation of counselling and psychotherapy.

Check my BACP Registration entry here 





By Amanda Williamson, Counselling in Exeter

https://plus.google.com/+AmandaWilliamsonCounsellor 

Challenging Prejudices around Sex Work

by Amanda Williamson

I have been pondering on this blog post for several months now. I have opinions about sex work that some people might struggle with. I have found myself pussyfooting around the issue and worrying that my network won't be able to handle my thoughts and beliefs around sex work...

Could this be anything to do with my Catholic school upbringing? Might I, even though I believe I have forged my own moral compass by being curious and genuinely open to taboo issues, actually still be being influenced by others' attitudes towards sex, taught to me decades ago? When I started secondary school, a convent grammar school, I had to read two books before term started. The New World Bible and Girls Growing Up. I didn't read the bible before I started school (rebel). I couldn't wait to get stuck into Girls Growing Up though. I can't find any reference anywhere to this book online, not even an illustration. It was basically a book to explain the changes of puberty (I remember misreading "pubic" as "public" and making my parents laugh) and sex. The narrative focused on a married couple with kids who, once the kids went to bed, talked about their day and then expressed their love for each other with a very gentle sounding lovemaking, in bed of course, that involved the woman lying back and the man taking the initiative. The whole purpose being that they express their love so intensely that they can make a baby out of it to prove their love (or something like that).

I have come a long way since then, which was 31 years ago (yikes). I have more knowledge, maybe even wisdom, personal experience and been exposed to a whole spectrum of sexual behaviour through acquaintances and clients I have worked with, from asexual to monogamous, adulterous, polyamorous relationships, exchanging sex for money and coercive or forceful sex.

I'll say it now, the only time I feel that sex is wrong is if it is forceful or coercive. For the sake of clarity,  sex with children is always coercive in my opinion as well as sex with people who you are in a position of power over e.g. therapists' clients. Read more about this here: http://www.amandawilliamsoncounselling.co.uk/2013/05/sex-in-forbidden-zone-by-peter-rutter.html

Please also note that I am well aware of the issues with forced prostitution and trafficking which I believe are wrong. However, I also have the capacity to see that full service sex work (commonly referred to as prostitution, although sex workers dislike that term) does not necessarily involve force or coercion.

Whether somebody chooses to abstain from sex, or whether they choose a monogamous or polyamorous relationship is not a problem to me, provided nobody is being hurt in the process.

It goes to follow then, that full service sex work is not a problem to me, provided the sex worker and the client are both consenting adults. I would prefer that people did not engage in polyamorous relationships if they are having to lie about it to their partner. That is deception and I believe that almost all of the time this is ethically wrong. But I am aware that me thinking something is wrong does not mean that the rest of the world will agree it's wrong. Hopefully everybody (besides certain sociopaths) would agree that forceful or coercive sex is always wrong (excluding consensual BDSM practices, talking of which, research seems to indicate that BDSM practitioners may be psychologically healthier than non-practitioners).

Why sex work is okay

I actually think that full service sex workers provide a very much needed service, particularly so for disabled people or those with mental health issues that might make finding a partner (whether that be for a full relationship or just for sex) incredibly difficult. What many people don't seem to appreciate is that sexual needs are pretty much universal. We are (most of us) wired to want sexual release. Many of us want both an intimate emotional connection and a physically intimate connection. Even a monogamously wired person may not be able to have both those needs met in one relationship.

As for people without any disability or mental health issues, if they aren't hurting anybody, why is it a problem for them to pay to have sex with a sex worker? Why is it somehow preferable for them to go to a bar or club, buy drinks for a potential sexual partner, or treat them to dinner, with the purpose of wanting to have intercourse at the end of it?

I suspect that sex work is tarnished with old attitudes that are perpetuated. I hold my hands up, I have probably passed judgment on sex workers in the past due to ignorance, insecurity and societal and religious expectations.

No Agenda

I would like to be clear here that I have no personal agenda. I am not a sex worker and it wouldn't work for me personally. I have a comfortable spot on the sexuality spectrum that would make it difficult for me to have sex with somebody I did not know. That doesn't mean I am somehow morally right. It's just what is right for me. Some people get a lot of enjoyment and a buzz from sex with a stranger. Each to their own. I appreciate why gambling is so addictive but my brain isn't wired to get a thrill from gambling either.

Acceptance of individuality

Wherever it is I am on the spectrum of sexuality, I appreciate others' positions (as long as they aren't being forceful or coercive with sex). If you are interested in gaining a better appreciation of why sex work is important take at look at this website: http://www.tlc-trust.org.uk/services/index.php

A Therapeutic Contract

I might be taking a risk here by saying it, but full service sex work can be compared (and contrasted) with counselling and psychotherapy. A client is paying for a service that involves a certain amount of intimacy. For some clients, being emotionally intimate may be more excruciating than being sexually intimate and therefore forming a relationship with a therapist may feel fundamentally more risky or scary than paying for sex. There are therapists that traverse the two issues although the UK law on sex surrogacy is ambiguous. Sex therapists deal explicitly with issues of sex and I suspect have a more open mind about sex work than the average person.

Where sex work meets therapy

I have for several months been in contact with a sex worker who is also a trainee therapist via Twitter. We met via a mutual contact Phil Dore as this lady, Jemima, has a mutual interest in the regulation of therapy to help protect clients from rogue therapists who abuse the position of trust they hold. My dialogue with Jemima has helped me understand more about the abuse that sex workers face and the assumptions that many people, including therapists, make about sex workers. There was an article written very recently in the BACP publication Therapy Today on women exiting sex work which, whilst an important issue I was pleased to see being discussed, did have a flavour of assumption that all women in sex work would choose to exit if they could. Whist reading it I thought of Jemima and Tweeted her to ask her what she thought of it. Jemima was so upset she told me that she had cried. She quite rightly pointed out that the BACP Ethical Framework promotes client autonomy and that this attitude is clearly at odds with that. She has written a response to Therapy Today. Jemima mentioned the article in this blog post on the criminalisation of the clients of sex workers in Canada.

Click here for the Crown Prosecution Service's legal guidance to prostitution in the UK.


I have invited Jemima to be interviewed for this blog post as I believe that she is in the perfect position to lend a voice to this issue. I believe that it is important to realise that there are people who choose sex work and not assume that they are all downtrodden, abused or in need of rescuing. If we automatically take that stance that makes us, the judge, assume a position of power which says more about us and our egos and insecurities and/or ignorance than it does the sex worker.


Q Please can I have a brief description of what you do in terms of how you choose to define yourself professionally? 

I am an independent, indoor, full service sex worker, independent means I do not work for an agency or brothel. Indoor contrasts with outdoor, or street workers, the most common image that comes to mind when people think of sex workers. Sex work covers a variety of jobs, from porn to phone sex. Full service means I will have sex with my clients, under a variety of pre-negotiated (i.e. I insist on condoms) and time limited conditions. People might know the words escort or call girl to describe what I do, though both are problematic for different reasons.

Q How long have you been a sex worker for? 

Around 6 years, which in sex work terms is quite long, there is a joke that sex work years are the same as dog years.

Q What are the best and worst bits about being a sex worker? 

Best bits; working for myself, the boost it has given to my self esteem and confidence, the money, the independence, travelling and meeting new people. The community that other sex workers provide, sometimes the sex. The many older gentleman for whom I provide the only human contact. With clients of any age seeing someone leave happy and relaxed, and being responsible for that is a wonderful experience. Many clients talk to me about their lives and problems, in some ways the kind of trust that the therapeutic alliance is meant to work towards over a series of sessions is achieved far more rapidly. I become someone they share problems and intimate secrets with. It has also allowed me to explore a feminine side to myself I had previously,  for a variety of reasons been unable to express.

Worst; The fear of assault and rape, being raped, not being able to be open about my work, the fear of outing, the fear that stigma may impact on those I care about, unreliable working hours-like many self employed people I spend a lot of time waiting for the phone to ring. A tricky subject much discussed among sws but little understood outside the job is having sex when you are not particularly wanting it. This is not the same as non consensual sex, it is assumed it must be the worst part of the job, but it isn't. It is no different really to anyone else going into work when they don't really fancy it.

Q Can you tell me a little about your psychotherapy training? 

I have to be slightly circumspect here, but I am training to be a person centred therapist on a BACP approved course at an accredited learning provider. (Though the more I learn the more an integrationist approach seems the best).

Q What are the best and worst bits about being a therapist? 

Well I am still in training, and one of the worst things about this is not being able to express my knowledge or experiences. For example when the tutor was discussing the importance of being able to leave clients behind for self care there was so much I could have contributed. To be a successful sex worker, in terms of personal health and self care, you have to be able to leave the clients behind in a very similar manner. In terms of clients who don't show there was also a lot I could have shared, but was unable to. Again when lone working came up there was a wealth of experience I could not share. On another level there is a level of congruence and authenticity denied to me in things like skills practice, since there are whole aspects of my life I have to censor due to stigma.
The self development has been amazing though, I feel I am so much more self aware than I was a year ago, I have grown so much. It has been incredible getting good feedback, and realising I can do this. With those clients I have seen as they open up and trust me I feel incredibly honoured to be allowed into their lives.

Q What do you think of current legislation regarding sex work – what would you change and why? 

Current legislation is a mess. Sex work is legal in the UK, if you work alone and indoors. However those with an ideological objection to sex work as well as those with a religious one have tried to criminalise almost every aspect of life surrounding sex work. Street soliciting is illegal, which criminalised the most vulnerable sex workers, often trans, WoC, substance users and migrants. Working with another person is illegal, technically a brothel (thank you Labour) this means if we wish to share a work space for security and companionship we can both be arrested as the other persons pimp. Sex work is dangerous and isolating as it is and this particular law makes it more so.
Our partners are also criminalised, arrested as our pimps regardless of evidence. then there is the assumptions and stigma, sex workers are evicted, have their children taken off them, loose custody cases, purely because of their job.
We need decriminalisation on the New Zealand model. This moves the regulation of sex work from the criminal to the civil sphere, treats it as any other job, with some particular exceptions around the claiming of benefits http://www.bigsusies.com/new_zealand_140316.pdf

Q What do you think about the current legislation regarding counselling and psychotherapy? Again; what would you change and why?

I think it would be a good idea! Again it seems that when it comes to sex, people think there are a whole different set of assumptions and norms which must be upheld, norms based on purity culture and the dominance of capitalist patriarchy. People who sell sexual services are controlled, stigmatised, treated as outcasts, people who sell therapeutic services are allowed free reign regardless of the harm they may have done. In sex work terms we talk about harm reduction, therapy needs to place harm reduction front and centre, and there must be mandatory registration and regulation.
This may seem contradictory when I oppose mandatory regulation (or legalisation) of sex work, however it is about understanding power dynamics and who has the power in a relationship. In sex work the worker needs protection, best offered by decriminalisation, in therapy it is the client who needs it, best offered by regulation.

Q Do you experience any misunderstanding or discrimination over the sex work aspect of your lifestyle and if so from whom? 

Daily, society at large is whorephobic and makes huge assumptions about sex workers, as you already mentioned in the discussion of the therapy today piece. However I am very careful about who knows I am a sex worker, and so unless I am campaigning online I can avoid this, although i do not always exercise as much self care as I should. It is hard though when classmates or tutors discuss “prostitution” or trafficking, and make statements that show they have prejudices based on lack of knowledge and I feel unable to challenge them due to fear of outing myself. I know as much about trafficking a many academics, yet have to sit their in silence, seething. I imagine it is similar to how LGBT people feel when they are read as straight and surrounded by homophobic or transphobes.

Q Do you encounter any misunderstanding regarding your therapeutic work? 

Not so far

Q Anything else you want to say?

You mention the fact that some sex workers work with disabled people as part of your changing thoughts around sex work. This is problematic for me and many other sex workers for a number of reasons. Whilst on an individual level it is rewarding to work with people with disabilities, many of whom are denied access to sexual pleasure by the disablism of society and assumptions about people with disabilities being sexless this has nothing to do with the fight for sex workers rights and against stigma.

Many people are unable to have the sex life they desire, for any number of reasons, they may have poor social skills, be physically unattractive, shy, obese, and so on. Whilst these are not structural in nature as disability is (I take a social view of disability, in that it is society which causes some people to be less abled than others) to argue that sex work is somehow acceptable because it provides a sexual opportunity for those who would otherwise not be able to have those opportunities surely should include those without disabilities but with other disadvantages?

People with disabilities should have their right to sexual pleasure respected, and enabled if possible (assuming they are not asexual) On a side note there also should not be assumptions they are heterosexual, or have no interest in subjects such as BDSM. Enabling in this context may or may not involve helping to arrange meetings with sex workers if this is what the disabled person wants. We are fortunate in the UK as many OTs and case precedent means personal allowances can be spent on a sex worker, and carers are expected to respect the disabled person's right to privacy and desire for sex. Although further training is needed and there are still many issues around families who deny their adult children's sexuality and also for those with learning difficulties.

However as important as these issues are the rights of sex workers do not rely on the "worthiness" of our clients. A therapeutic analogy- imagine if the string them up brigade decided that counselling paedophiles should be criminalised, on the grounds they did not "deserve" to be helped? Quite rightly therapists would object, and would highlight how whilst not every therapist wants or is able to work with sex offenders it would be wrong to punish those who did. The rights of the therapist as a worker are not dependent on the worthiness of those they work with.

One last thing, many sex workers are disabled, it is a job that can work well when flexibility is a key requirement. It is so common in the discussion around sex workers rights to focus on the clients, rather than the workers, when discussing sex work and disability it would be good if for a change people's first thought was of disabled sex workers, not disabled clients.

Thank you Jemima for some very thought provoking, educative and interesting answers.

You can follow Jemima on Twitter and her blog http://sometimesitsjustacigar.wordpress.com

NB This post as updated on 25th June 2014. The link to a sex surrogacy agency has been removed because it was brought to my attention that the agency I linked to was unregulated having had their COSRT membership removed. 







16 July 2014

The (Un)Dateables looking for participants

I have been contacted by the TV production company Betty as they are looking for participants in the fourth series of the documentary series The (UN)Dateables which normally follows people with a variety of disabilities such as ASC, Tourette's, Downs Syndrome and various other conditions who are looking to find love.

I personally think that the program is sensitively and respectfully done.

If you know anybody who would be interested please take a look at the flyer below:


23 June 2014

Pluralism in Counselling

by Amanda Williamson


The Framework for Integrative Practice I've Been Waiting For? - Review of Mick Cooper Workshop on Pluralistic Therapy




I trained in integrative counselling and on our course we were encouraged to form a coherent philosophy of counselling and to choose a framework to gel our work, which as integrative counsellors can involve several differing approaches. We were presented with various humanistic frameworks e.g. Clarkson's 5 Modalities of Relationship, The 7 Level Model (also Clarkson - the framework for our training, along with the BACP Ethical Framework), Heron's 6 Categories of Intervention. I struggled to find something that could adequately hold my practice in a way satisfactory to me and I ended up cobbling together 2 models to form a personalised framework. I opted for Clarkson's 5 Modalities of Relationship and Erskine's 8 Relational Needs. This was the best fit for my personal philosophy which is about meeting the client where they need to be met and working from that base point.

I was profoundly influenced by Mick Cooper and Dave Mearns' work in the book Working at Relational Depth in Counselling and Psychotherapy during my final year of training and very much enjoyed attending a workshop on Relational Depth held by Mick Cooper in Exeter last year. I wrote about that experience here.

The Person-Centred Association South West invited Mick Cooper down to Exeter again this year and l was very excited about attending this workshop; Pluralistic Therapy - Extending Person-Centred Principles to Integrative Practice.

Pluralistic therapy is a philosophy of therapy rather than a technique, a concept that sits better with me as I find adherence to one particular school of thought somewhat reductionist, and I believe that it can get in the way of discovering what each individual actually wants or needs. I think that this is why I preferred working with children with special needs as there was more flexibility to stray away from the curriculum and work with exactly what each child needed to flourish.

Mick did a great job of explaining the principles behind the approach which I guess may be partially because he devised the approach along with John McLeod. He summarised pluralistic therapy thus:


"A person-centred, humanistic, integrative approach"

Through extensive research Mick Cooper and John McCleod are shattering the myths that many therapists hold. Apparently, clients generally prefer us to be more challenging than we believe they want us to be. But at the same time, clients find it hard to say what they want because of the power imbalance. As I have said before in this blog, I don't want there to be a power imbalance in my therapeutic relationships but the fact is that power is bestowed on us by some clients who may think that we are expert, or more "sorted" somehow.

Despite all the warring between the differing factions of therapy, what emerges from the research is that:


CLIENTS DO BETTER IN THEIR PREFERRED THERAPIES and are 50% less likely to drop out.

Clients feel more empowered when there is shared decision making, however, some want to have a say and some don't want to at all. What's important here is that clients differ in their wants and adhering to the dogma of one singular approach is not necessarily in a client's best interest (although it might be!).


Pluralism


The term pluralism derives from a philosophical outlook which was explored in William James' A Pluralistic Universe (1908) and by Isaiah Berlin and is the opposite of the philosophical stance of monism, which holds that there is only one ultimate truth. Pluralism holds the belief that there is no one ultimate truth and that there are multiple right answers to a question. There is an openness to ambiguity and multiple perspectives.

Or as Mick said "Allowing the messiness is a more democratic way of being with another". 

This corresponds very well with my personal philosophical viewpoint and so, as I was hoping, the workshop was proving to be music to my ears.

Another word offered by Mick to explain the approach was dialogic.


Pluralism in therapy


Mick looked at the common arguments in the therapy world, i.e. "relationship versus technique" and 'single orientation versus integrative/eclectic approaches", 'pro/anti-pharmaceuticals" and argued that with pluralistic thinking we don't have to polarise.


Pluralism versus Integrative Approaches


It was clarified that these two definitions come from different traditions. Pluralistic practice is described as "collaborative, integrative practice". Integrative practice does not necessarily involve client collaboration. Pluralism would involve client-focused integration rather than therapist-focused integration.


Metatherapeutic dialogue


This is the word used to describe the talking about the process of counselling itself rather than the issues brought to the room and is central to the pluralistic approach. Is the therapy working well for the client? What is their preferred style of counselling and which techniques/approaches do they feel comfortable with? What do they want to get out of therapy and are they on track?

The importance of this was highlighted. We may miss much of what clients experience or want for various reasons, e.g.:



  • a client may want to be seen to be a "good client"
  • they may fear that the therapist will retaliate if they question the approach
  • a client may view the therapist as "expert"
  • the client may feel bad about being seen to criticise the therapist in any way


So the onus is on us as therapists to check out with the client regularly.



Form filling

Mick also informed us, and I was certainly quite surprised by this, that although form-filling may feel quite mechanistic to therapists, clients are generally happy to do so. Apparently clients often find it difficult to voice their experiences and giving feedback forms offers a "third space" for clients to address metatherapeutic dialogue. I have to fill in lots of forms, as do my clients, for the GamCare work I do. I shall look on it with a new perspective.

Role play


Mick wanted to demonstrate how one of his forms can be part of the initial session with a client. He gave us a form that he himself uses and refers to as a Goal Assessment Form where goals of therapy are agreed and written down, then the form is completed regularly with the client indicating how far up the scale they think they are to achieving the goal. Nobody was volunteering to be the client and I was in the mood for putting myself out of my comfort zone, so I played the client. I used actual therapeutic issues which was scary seeing I was in a room with 40 or so professional peers. Anyway, it was a good mini session and I came away seeing the value of really pinning down the therapeutic goals (and thinking that Mick would be good for the job…shame he's miles away).


Reflection

In my own practice I have for a while made it part of the initial session to agree the goals for therapy and review from time to time to see if we are on track. I'm not sure I would use the form as supplied by Mick but I might try and formalise and refine the review process.

As a result of the thinking that this workshop encouraged I will be making some subtle changes to my practice. The finer detail is currently being considered but I'm looking at extending the content of my contract, and sending an information sheet to newly booked clients. 

Therapeutic Orientation Inventory


Part of the workshop involved us filling out a form. This questionnaire gave results of our therapeutic orientation and my results were as follows:

Total Pluralism - very high
Metatherapeutic Communication - very high
Integrative practice - very high
Pluralistic attitude - high

I'm not entirely sure how that compares with other therapists, but I feel happy to describe myself accordingly.


What about Relational Depth?


Somebody at the workshop asked Mick why he had changed his mind about the importance of relational depth (which I understand to be a shift towards stressing that although it is what many clients need, it isn't necessarily what all clients need). Mick replied that he was quite proud of his ability to change his current thinking as he learns more through research and experience. 

What a breath fresh air. 

Fingers crossed Mick might pop over to Exeter again next year to deliver another thought provoking workshop that therapists can really use to enhance their practice - the whole purpose of Continued Professional Development (no pressure).




3 June 2014

Proven Unethical Therapists Can Carry On Regardless



I wrote extensively about my stance on regulation around a year ago. I was so fed up of hearing therapists argue the toss about whether it was a good or bad thing.


STOP!

What about clients? What about the public? What do the people that come and spend time and/or money on our professional services want? Well, I do care deeply about what my clients want so I went out and asked the public and hey presto! Guess what? The majority WANT counsellors and psychotherapists regulated and MOST OF THOSE ASSUMED WE WERE ALREADY REGULATED.


Why is this a problem? Well, like a lot of things that lead to big changes in priority, the real push for me was experiential learning; witnessing serious misconduct in a fellow professional. This was so bad that I resigned from the agency I was working in, that he owns and runs as a private business.


Cutting a long, almost two year horror story short, Palace Gate Counselling Service, the agency I worked at for two years, was taken to two separate complaints hearing by the BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy) and each individual complaint warranted removal of the agency's membership. Yes, this agency acted so disgracefully in the eyes of the regulating body that their membership was removed twice.



The Panel at the BACP Professional Conduct Procedure found that the Phoenix Director at (…) took "emotional advantage .. of a sexual nature", used the "power imbalance" and "abused the trust put in him".

The Panel found that the Co-Director at (…) sent "threatening emails", "exacerbated that harm”, was "aggressive and accusatory" and breached client confidentiality on a public blog. 


The BACP Professional Conduct Panel found that the company were in breach of thirty aspects of the BACP Ethical Framework for Good Practice in Counselling and Psychotherapy. This meant the panel believed that they had been unwise, unfair, untrustworthy, unjust, incompetent and harmfully malicious. 

The BACP are generally quite forgiving and lenient to therapists who have acted in contravention to The Ethical Framework for Good Practice in Counselling and Psychotherapy. Their monthly publication Therapy Today sees a summary of the latest sanctions which usually amount to writing a self-reflective essay and submitting to the BACP, and ramping up supervision. It takes a lot for the BACP to withdraw membership and if the complaint amounts to the therapist's word against the client's then it is my understanding that it is particularly difficult for the BACP to uphold, unless they have a LOT of evidence. 

So the practitioner at the centre of these complaints, who is not and I assume never will be a member of a regulatory organisation, was able to "hide" behind the organisation. 



Now he and his co-director, who is also not a member of a regulatory organisation, are able to carry on their proven unethical practice unimpeded. He owns and runs a counselling agency in Exeter and a counselling agency in Taunton (Taunton Counselling Service).

Because it is not illegal to get struck off for misconduct and to carry on.

A blogger who write extensively about the uses and abuses of therapy, and in particular the problem with the lack of regulation is Phil Dore aka Zarathustra. He followed the story after the agency posted a rather bizarre blog regarding the complaints against them. He wrote an interesting piece about the BACP findings here.

Graham Prince, a sex therapist in Bristol also picked up on the story and wrote about it and the problem with lack of regulation here


Jemima, who writes on Sometimes it's Just a Cigar,  picked up the story here. A commenter on that particular post writes a lot of sense:


"That we have a system where people who are quite possibly vulnerable and traumatised can be ‘treated’ by totally unregulated counsellors is not just wrong it’s dangerous. Every industry needs rigorous, enforceable guidelines and penalties for those who infringe them. There’s nothing to stop me putting a sign up at my door and offering ‘counselling’, just like that awful woman who tried to ‘cure’ someone of their homosexuality. Change is long overdue and any decent therapist or counsellor would welcome it."


What frightens me is that trainee counsellors who work for these organisations are being taught how to practice by owners, directors and supervisors who not only refuse to be held accountable, but have been twice struck off their professional body.



Is it just me or do you find that scary?



UPDATE 12th June 2014

A number of concerned professionals have prepared a statement for referring agencies and counselling training institutions regarding their concerns in light of the BACP findings against Phoenix Counselling Service (the business name for Palace Gate Counselling Service). More about this can be read here:

http://notsobigsociety.wordpress.com/2014/06/10/concerned-counsellors-raise-alarm-over-palace-gate/

NB If you would like to ensure that your therapist is on the BACP register follow the link below to search by name. Or use the search tool to search for local registered therapists.












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