Back in September, I broke the news of Stuart Macfarlane, a Jungian psychotherapist who committed serious sexual misconduct with a vulnerable client, causing huge psychological trauma to her. Outrageously, he was not struck off by the Guild of Analytical Psychologists, but merely given a two year suspension. He could be practising again in September.
Today, the Daily Mail has broken the news that he had a second victim, Flora McEvedy has clearly shown a great deal of courage in stepping forward to tell her account. Sadly, the Mail’s presentation of the story is dreadful.
A word of advice to the Mail. When reporting the exploitation of a vulnerable adult by a professional, here’s a few pitfalls you really should try to avoid.
– Don’t make the victim’s name more prominent than that of the perpetrator. e.g. by putting the victims name in the headline rather than the perp’s, or by having four photos of her and one of him.
– Don’t dress it up like it’s a saucy kiss’n’tell. “Seduced”? “Affair”? This is an abuse case, for crying out loud.
– Don’t use titillating language. “I felt I might collapse with terror and excitement”? “Sexually charged”?
– Also don’t use tropes straight out of a Mills and Boon. “He was not unattractive, a little like an older version of Colin Firth”?
Despite the godawful tone of the article, there’s some insights into what happened. Sadly, Ms McEvedy was suffering from a bereavement after the suicide of her father. Her view is that this created a longing for a replacement paternal figure which Macfarlane was able to exploit.
She also describes some of his behaviour during the therapy – giving her a copy of The Talking Cure by Christopher Hampton, depicting a sexual relationship between Carl Jung and his patient Sabina Speilrein. On another occasion, he suddenly gave her a hug during therapy. Such behaviour looks suspiciously like grooming.
We also learn that Macfarlane’s then partner was also a former patient. Add this to the already-existing finding against Macfarlane that got him suspended in 2012, and this looks like a pattern of behaviour.
In 2010 I resolved to report him to his professional body, the Guild of Analytical Psychologists (GAP), but discovered that he was its chair at the time. So I did nothing until 2012, when he was no longer chair. But when I made my complaint, they said I had left it too late.
They declined to even consider my complaint because it was six years old, and the complaints process they had invented for themselves stated they were only obliged to investigate complaints brought within four years.
They referred me to the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP), who said it was GAP’s responsibility. I felt GAP was more interested in protecting him than hearing my case.
So, both the GAP and the UKCP know about this case. The GAP knew about it when they told me this in September 2013.
The decision reached was in accordance with the complaints process set out under the G.A.P. Complaints Procedure Code, which emphasises the confidentiality of the proceedings. We are unable to comment on an individual’s possibility of being allowed to re-register until the suspension period has ended, and such matters as compliance with the sanctions have been considered.
Also, the UKCP knew about it when they told me this:
The complaint against Stuart MacFarlane was handled by a UKCP member organisation. I am sure you will address your questions about the detail of the case to that organisation. We are unable to comment on their complaints process or details of the case because we are an appeals body.
We do not publish decisions made by other organisations because this falls outside our policy on the publication of decisions. This policy is available on our website:http://www.psychotherapy.org.uk/ukcp_standards_and_policy_statements.html
We are unable to make speculative comments on whether a named individual would be allowed to re-register. We have a proper process for cases to be considered. What we can say is that for any member wishing to re-register at the end of a sanction, UKCP’s Registrar would consider the possibility in light of whether the sanctions were complied with, along with other factors.
The UKCP member organisation that has made decisions about Mr Stuart MacFarlane, has issued public statements about the case which you can find here:
We are utterly in favour of strong regulation. We have regulatory systems to protect the public and the privacy of those involved. Those systems include controls on qualifications, entry to our register and fair systems for dealing with those cases where there is reason to question whether someone should be allowed to continue on the register. And within these strict processes we have lay and professional involvement, and access to appeals where someone feels a case has not been handled properly. For that reason we can’t engage in speculation about cases or trial over the internet.
To be fair to the UKCP, I notice a slight difference between their wording and the GAP’s. The GAP say,
We are unable to comment on an individual’s possibility of being allowed to re-register until the suspension period has ended, and such matters as compliance with the sanctions have been considered.
Whereas the UKCP say,
for any member wishing to re-register at the end of a sanction, UKCP’s Registrar would consider the possibility in light of whether the sanctions were complied with, along with other factors.
I may be reading too much into that, but I can’t help but wonder whether the “other factors” mentioned refers to Ms McEvedy’s complaint.
Time will tell, come September when Mr Macfarlane’s suspension ends.
In the meantime, I would like to commend Ms McEvedy for reporting what happened to her. This was an extremely brave thing to do, and she deserves respect for it.