There’s been a new twist in my explorations of the John Smalley case, a bungled fitness for practice hearing by the UK Council for Psychotherapy.
I presented fresh allegations to the Independent Group of Analytical Psychologists, the UKCP member organisation to which he belongs, and invited them to investigate. The response was a resounding “no”. What follows may be yet another salutory tale of the lack of proper regulation of psychotherapists.
The story so far…The UKCP took over three years to investigate complaints about Mr Smalley, a Jungian analyst with the IGAP. At the end of a long sequence of delays, they decided that seven allegations had been proven, but also decided not to sanction him. The fact that he admitted in the hearing that he destroyed his notes doesn’t seem to have prompted a sanction. The UKCP’s laughable response to this is that they didn’t sanction him for destroying his notes because there wasn’t a complaint about destroying his notes.
Of the allegations found proven, one is that he made derogatory comments about other clients to the complainant, including one where he (jokingly, according to Mr Smalley) suggested to the complainant that he hang around after the session because he had an attractive female client coming. Another is that Smalley inappropriately set up two of his clients in a business partnership with each other.
In the UKCP hearing, Smalley claimed to have cleared the inappropriate business relationship with his supervisor, Dr Anne Maguire, who is now sadly deceased. If that’s the case, then this would be a stain on the legacy of an eminent figure in the Jungian community. However, the complainant’s wife submitted a statement claiming that she had spoken to the late Dr Maguire, and she had reported doing nothing of the sort. If that’s the case, then Mr Smalley would not only have lied to the UKCP panel, but slandered Dr Maguire’s reputation in order to try to protect his own.
Continuing the tale…
These differing claims don’t appear to have been looked into. It would be too late now for the UKCP to launch any new investigations into Mr Smalley, because he let his UKCP registration lapse.
Hang on a minute, he’s still a member of the Independent Group of Analytical Psychologists, and still advertising his services on their register. And Dr Maguire was an IGAP member. Surely they can investigate the matter?
Also, there’s the fact that he said in the UKCP hearings that he destroyed his notes. Normally that would be serious professional misconduct, but the UKCP didn’t sanction him for that because, “No complaint was made against the therapist about destroying notes.” (Never mind that there wasn’t a complaint about it, what about the fact that it’s a fitness for practice issue?) Surely IGAP can take a complaint about that?
I sent them an email
Dear Ethics Committee
I am not sure if you are aware of the discussions about the UKCP hearings involving Mr John Smalley that have been taking place on the Not So Big Society website. I would like to draw your attention in particular to this article:
You may note that during the hearings Mr Smalley claimed to have carried out his misconduct with the apparent agreement of the late Dr Anne Maguire. However, he submitted no firm evidence to corroborate this, and others have disputed that Dr Maguire did anything of the sort.
There are two differing accounts of what happened. Are you in a position to investigate this?
Also, you may wish to note that Mr Smalley told the UKCP Panel that he destroyed his notes relating to the case, an act which would normally be considered gross misconduct. Will you investigate that also?
I got the following reply, which I’m quoting here in its entirety.
This case is now closed. Any further queries can be addressed to the UKCP.
The Ethics Committee
Pitiful, but not surprising. The current complaints system for the UKCP is that a complaint is first heard by the member organisation, and a complainant can appeal to the UKCP if the complaint is rejected. The IGAP website has no information about how to make a complaint, and doesn’t publish their Code of Ethics. I’ve even asked them if I could see the Code of Ethics, but got no joy. They also don’t publicly list any disciplinary sanctions against members, but they’ve admitted that this is because they haven’t sanctioned a registrant for years. IGAP deemed there was “no case to answer” against Mr Smalley – a decision that the UKCP’s Central Final Appeals Panel found to be “perverse and incorrect”, and eventually the UKCP found seven allegations proven.
The UKCP is currently trying to replace this “two-tier” complaints system with a “single-tier” Central Complaints Process (CCP) that all UKCP registrants will become subject to. The Smalley case is essentially a hybrid of the old and new, in that it first went before the member organisation, and then when the appeal was allowed it was sent to the new CCP.
Not that the Central Complaints Process covered itself in glory either. They took three years to complete the process, and despite seven allegations being found proven, they didn’t think that merited a sanction. Not to mention that they didn’t sanction him for destroying his notes on the entirely technical grounds that the complaint wasn’t about destroyed notes.
I previously asked IGAP whether they intend to implement the CCP, which the UKCP expects to apply to every registrant by the end of 2013. IGAP replied,
Since the UKCP Central Complaints Process is not yet finalised, it is too early to say if IGAP will sign up to it or not, but is likely to do so if it is felt to match our professional standards and has nothing that contradicts our existing Code of Ethics.
They have professional standards?