I recently blogged about Palace Gate Counselling Service, whose Exeter-based directors John Clapham and Lindsey Talbott have just been struck off by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. Under their trading name Phoenix Counselling Services, a whopping 30 allegations were found proved against them, including sexual abuse during therapy by Clapham.
Palace Gate Counselling Service are still going despite this. Indeed, their company blog still has a spectacularly libellous blog post online about the two women who complained. A little suggestion, Mr Clapham and Ms Talbott. If you’re objecting to being called a ‘therapeutic cult’, it’s generally not a good idea to make long, rambling public statements claiming to be under attack by nefarious people for vague reasons. It kind of makes you look a bit cultish.
As it turns out, Clapham and Talbott aren’t just in business in Exeter. As you can find out through company databases, they’re also on the board of directors for Simply Counselling in Plymouth. As Simply Counselling’s website attests, they’ve been successful in winning various contracts. They’re getting money from the Big Lottery to provide counselling to survivors of domestic abuse. Despite having a sexual predator among their directors, the People’s Postcode Trust has funded them to work with survivors of sexual abuse. The charity Heartswell has a partnership with them to support people with heart disease – something I find particularly galling because my late mother used to do a lot of work for Heartswell before she passed away during heart surgery. Plymouth City Council even have them listed on their Support With Confidence directory. I e-mailed Simply Counselling for comment on the 22nd May. They still haven’t replied.
[Edited on 5/7/14 to add: according to unconfirmed reports, Clapham and Talbott have now left the board of directors for Simply Counselling]
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that all the staff at Simply Counselling, or Taunton Counselling Service – or at Heartswell, the Big Lottery, Plymouth City Council etc – are in league with Clapham and Talbott’s behaviour. I think it’s far more likely they don’t know who they’re dealing with. Because there’s no statutory regulator for counselling or psychotherapy, the notice on the BACP website is simply that: a notice. And because it’s listed under the company name of Phoenix Counselling Services (under which they were registered with the BACP) you’d have to really do your research to discover that this was referring to the people who run Palace Gate Counselling Service, Taunton Counselling Service and Simply Counselling.
So, these two individuals can have a huge list of allegations proved against them, be struck off for it, and not only have they kept practising but they’re directors of three different counselling firms.
Can there be any stronger evidence that accredited voluntary registration is a miserable failure?