Last week I broke the news that the UK Council for Psychotherapy will be conducting an internal review into its handling of the John Smalley case, a fitness for practice hearing of a Jungian analyst. The review will examine how the UKCP managed to take over 3 years to conclude its investigation. The review won’t be asking why, despite seven allegations having been found proven, their panel didn’t so much as impose a caution, even after Mr Smalley admitted destroying his notes.
I’ve documented in detail the various ways that the case has been mishandled. But even now I’m discovering new things that seem to have gone wrong. Recently I saw a letter from the complainant to the UKCP, written in August 2011 and remonstrating bitterly about how his case was originally dealt with by them.
Rewind back to late 2009 and early 2010. The complainant had reported a series of allegations about Mr Smalley to his UKCP member organisation, the Independent Group of Analytical Psychologists. IGAP had ruled there was no case to answer.
The UKCP is currently trying to reform the way complaints are handled. Under the old “two-tier” system, a complaint is first heard by the member organisation. If they reject it and the complainant isn’t satisfied, they can then appeal to the UKCP’s Central Final Appeals Panel (CFAP). This system is to be replaced by a new “single-tier” Central Complaints Process. The Smalley case is something of a hybrid of the old and new. The complainant took IGAP’s “no case to answer” decision to the CFAP, who ruled that this was “perverse and incorrect”. The CFAP then ordered a new hearing should take place under the Central Complaints Process.
The complainant’s letter of August 2011 describes what happened when he appealed to the CFAP.
UKCP took over 5 months to accept my UKCP CFAP application, which was excessive.
I submitted my UKCP CFAP application on 1 February 2009 and it took UKCP until 6 July 2009 to accept it.
In the context of responding to an appeal by a vulnerable person who alleged abuse by a UKCP registered psychotherapist and who also alleged that a perverse and incorrect ruling had been made in the Complaints Procedure of a UKCP Member Organisation by a UKCP Member Organisation, the time taken was excessive
The excessive time caused me considerable extra emotional and psychological distress on top of that already caused by the circumstance surrounding the UKCP CFAP application.
The complainant may not have known it at the time, but this was to be the beginning of yet more delays after delays, with the result that the proceedings only finally concluded in March 2012.
His letter goes on to describe some of the correspondence that took place during all of this initial faffing.
After accepting my UKCP CFAP application UKCP twice wrote to persuade me to suspend my accepted UKCP CFAP and grant permission to UKCP to “request”/”invite” IGAP to reconsider my complaint, which was perverse.
IGAP’s Complaints Procedure was formally completed before I submitted my CFAP application to UKCP. In fact UKCP CFAP is only available when the UKCP Member Organisation’s Complaint Procedures have been formally concluded….
On 30 January 2009 IGAP informed me that their Complaints Procedure was formally concluded:
“Given the Appeals Committee’s preliminary assessment, and the Complaints Committee’s decision that there is no case to answer, your complaint against John Smalley is now officially closed, and you have no further grounds for appeal to IGAP regarding this matter. [Emphasis mine.]”
Following receipt of the above “no case to answer” ruling from IGAP, that I considered was perverse and incorrect, on 1 February 2009 I submitted my CFAP application to UKCP. I included the letter that includes the above ruling in my CFAP application to UKCP.
On 6 July 2009, over five months after I submitted my UKCP CFAP application, UKCP eventually accepted my UKCP CFAP application and stated their intention to “appoint a Clerk to the Appeal Panel” and to ask the Clerk to “…empanel an Appeal Panel and notify [me] of the hearing of the Appeal Panel.”
Then UKCP wrote to me on 4 August 2009 and attempted to persuade me to suspend my accepted UKCP CFAP and to grant permission to UKCP to “request [IGAP] to instigate an investigation of [my] original complaint” and to “invite IGAP to consider my complaint”….
I responded immediately in a letter dated 5 August 2009 in which I “emphatically and categorically [refused] permission” to UKCP:
“I have given careful and thorough consideration to your letter of 4 August 2009 and I emphatically and categorically refuse permission for you to refer this matter back to the Member Organisation. [Emphasis mine.]”
Though I felt that I had made my position abundantly clear to UKCP, UKCP wrote a second time with a letter dated 17 August 2009 which again attempted to persuade me in the manner as before. I responded immediately in a manner as before in a letter dated 19 August 2009.
IGAP’s Complaints Procedure rules were complete. Hence, had I taken UKCP’s advice, I would have had nowhere to stand ‘in law’ regarding my complaint against IGAP’s member according to IGAP’s Complaint Procedure rules.
What he seems to be suggesting is that UKCP were offering him advice that could have derailed his entire complaint. That’s bad enough, but here comes the worst allegation of all.
UKCP did not offer nor inform me of my need for representation at the UKCP CFAP hearing on 26 March 2010.
I consider that I should have been treated as a vulnerable witness at the UKCP CFAP hearing. As it was I had to represent myself against IGAP’s legal team comprising a barrister and a solicitor. Although UKCP offered me representation (by UKCP Professional Conduct Officer) in the UKCP Central Complaints Process (CCP) (the UKCP disciplinary process that my compliant has since moved in to following my UKCP CFAP appeal being upheld on 26 March 2010), UKCP made no such offer of representation nor advised me of the need for representation for the UKCP CFAP hearing. At the very least I should have been informed of the need for representation.
UKCP allowed me to walk into the UKCP CFAP hearing to face a barrister, a solicitor and two of the members of IGAP responsible for making the perverse and incorrect decision that was the reason for the CFAP process, without properly informing me of what a UKCP CFAP hearing involved and without providing adequate support of a professional, legal, emotional and psychological nature. It should not have been my place to have to make a technical argument based on the proper ethics and practice of psychotherapy. A decent, ethical and empathic psychotherapy organisation would understand this and would have demonstrated its understanding by supporting a vulnerable member of the public to achieve the right outcome from the UKCP CFAP hearing in a manner that caused least emotional and psychological distress. As it was I suffered enormous stress at the UKCP CFAP hearing.
I had no idea that IGAP would be represented by a barrister or even that I was expected to make an argument. I understood that my allegations and my statement would stand on their own. As it was I had to speak at length before the hearing and make an argument that both presented my case and refuted IGAP’s position. I did not attend the hearing prepared for such an eventuality. I should have been represented by UKCP or have been advised by UKCP of the need for representation.
This shrieks of a lack of care. If the above account is accurate (and the transcript of the CFAP hearing seems to corroborate it) then a vulnerable adult was suddenly, and without warning or time to prepare, expected to act as a litigant in person before a trained barrister.
I’ve invited the UKCP to comment on these allegations, but they’ve declined to do so at this stage.
To be continued…