Back in February I commented on a worryingly lenient decision by the UK Council for Psychotherapy to give only a 6 month suspension to a therapist who had committed serious sexual misconduct. Rob Waygood, a Jungian and transpersonal psychotherapist, admitted having sex with a client.
The suspension is now over, and Waygood is now back on the UKCP register. He has put his website back up and has announced he’s practising again.
On his website, Waygood says of the case,
In 2011 I had a short affair with an ex-client which was a breach of my professional ethics. This resulted in me being suspended from UKCP registration for 6 months. I am now re-registered with UKCP. There has been some inaccurate and distorted reporting of the circumstances of this breach in newspapers and websites (including the UKCP website). This whole situation has been like a nightmare for me and others, and though deeply regretting my professional failure and its ramifications, I am now putting it behind me and have restarted my psychotherapy practice.
He doesn’t say what part of the reporting is “inaccurate and distorted”. Certainly I’ve never received any e-mails from him demanding any sort of correction.
He also doesn’t say what on the UKCP website is inaccurate. The UKCP decision makes reference to Waygood, “Making a number of personal disclosures to the client regarding his sexuality and sexual history”, “Commenting on the client’s femininity during a therapy session”, and “Hugging and kissing his client on the hair or neck on either 14 or 28 March 2011″ – all of which sounds suspiciously like grooming behaviour.
The UKCP decision also refers to him, “Visiting the client’s house sometime between 18 and 21 April 2011 and acting in an affectionate manner”, which sounds like the sort of inappropriate housecall that the Professional Standards Authority guidance on sexual boundaries would regard as an aggravating factor. He doesn’t say if this is inaccurate either.
The UKCP decision is notable in that the original sanction was so risible that the UKCP actually wound up appealing against themselves. The panel had only imposed a warning letter – the sort of meaningless slap on the wrists that used to be commonplace, but which their new Complaints and Conduct Process was supposed to stamp out. On appeal, the UKCP argued that his misconduct was, “a breach of a fundamental tenet of the profession, and accordingly it was fundamentally incompatible with the Registrant remaining on UKCP’s Register.”
The appeal panel agreed that the original sanction was unduly lenient, but they still didn’t strike him off. They increased it only to a 6 month suspension.
For a comparison, here’s the indicative sanctions guidance for my own regulator, the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
In all cases of serious sexual misconduct, it will be highly likely that the only proportionate sanction will be a striking-off order. If panels decide to impose a sanction other than a striking-off order, then they will need to be particularly careful in explaining clearly and fully the reasons why they made such a determination, so that it can be understood by those who have not heard all of the evidence in the case.
I suppose the UKCP can be given kudos for recognising that a written warning is not a sufficiently-robust sanction for serious sexual misconduct. Unfortunately, it also has to be said that 6 months of being out of the club and then returning isn’t either.