Another therapist carries on practising after being struck off for sexual misconduct

There seems to be a running theme on this blog of psychotherapists on accredited registers who are struck off by their professional body, and simply carry on practising regardless.

Here’s another one. Charles Davison, a Norfolk-based therapist was recently struck off by the UK Council for Psychotherapy. The UKCP decision posted online isn’t very detailed. However, it does state that he was removed from their register for sexual misconduct. They also state that he had “an unclear and inadequately understood sense of professionalism and especially clinical boundaries.” They determined that he “lacks insight into his conduct and is not satisfied that he recognizes the seriousness of the failings in his actions,” and that it was “not a one-off situation, but rather a course of conduct that should have been identified well in advance.” They were also “concerned about his own lack of honesty in not disclosing his behaviour to his own supervisor.”

Given the track record of psychotherapists ignoring striking-off orders, I did a bit of Googling. Right away I found a website, CharlesDavison.com offering psychotherapy services in Norfolk.

davison2

The website doesn’t make any mention of UKCP registration, so I thought it best to check it’s the same guy. Psychotherapy is a small world, but it’s possible that there’s two therapists called Charles Davison in Norfolk. It only took a few more minutes of trawling through social media to find other profiles for Charles Davison, listing the same address, and mentioning the UKCP.

davison

There are no other individuals called Charles Davison, in Norfolk or anywhere else, on the UKCP register.

To check whether these were simply old websites or whether he was still practising, I set up an email account and contacted him, posing as a vulnerable woman called “Bethany Collier”.

Dear Mr Davison
I wonder if I might enquire about your therapy services.
I have a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, which I believe stems from a period of sexual abuse when I was a child.
I know I have a self-destructive streak, which has put me in hospital several times. I want to be able to control this.
Do you work with these sorts of problems? If so, could you tell me a little more about how you work please?
Bethany Collier
This evening, I received the following reply:
Thank you for your enquiry.
Would you be so kind as to tell me (a) whereabouts you live, and (b) how you heard about me. I have considerable experience working with borderline disorders and with cases of sexual abuse. I am trained as a gestalt therapist and as a person-centred counsellor. Please visit CharlesDavison.com for details of my training and experience.
Please call me on [redacted] if you require further information.
Best wishes
Charles Davison
The UKCP doesn’t often remove people from their register. In fact Mr Davison is only the third in the last five years. The other two are Julia Eastwood and Raymond Holland. Readers of this blog may remember Mr Holland from when I pointed out that he was still practising, having been struck off for serious sexual misconduct. He sent me a legal threat in response and I told him to get stuffed. I haven’t heard from him since.
As for Julia Eastwood, removed from the UKCP register for failing to comply with a sanction, she’s still advertising her services as a psychotherapist online. However, her website advertising herself as a “conscious channel of the Archangel Gabriel” seems to have been taken down now.
The other main register for psychotherapists, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, has struck off rather more of its practitioners. However, one of my readers Jo D Baker did a survey of 55 BACP-registered therapists who had been removed from their register. He found that 22% of them were still advertising their services online.
Disgracefully, this is entirely legal. Although both the UKCP and BACP are accredited registers with the Professional Standards Authority, “counsellor” and “psychotherapist” are not protected titles. That means being struck off doesn’t mean you have to stop calling yourself a counsellor or psychotherapist.
So, remind me again, what exactly is the point of accredited registers?
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One thought on “Another therapist carries on practising after being struck off for sexual misconduct

  1. You’re mistaken if you believe that he wouldn’t be able to legally carry on with his practice if the regulations were based on protected titles rather than accredited registers. Here’s what the HCPC have to say about it in 2010:

    “7.4: Protected titles create a boundary for professional practice, in that titles are reserved for registrants, and cannot legally be used by non-registrants. However, this does not stop people from practising in an unregulated way. There are examples of practitioners, including some who have been struck-off by a former regulator, who use non-protected titles. They may even state correctly that they are trained in a field of practice, and offer services to the public, without using a protected title.”

    http://www.professionalstandards.org.uk/docs/default-source/psa-library/protecting-the-public-from-unregistered-practitioners—good-practice-report.pdf

    The big weakness of professional regulations is that they only apply to members of the profession in question, when someone is kicked out they become free to ignore the regulations. That is true of both protected titles and accredited registers.

    If Charles Davison had been struck off a statutory register of Psychotherapists he would still be free to carry on as long as he was careful to avoid any protected words when describing himself (that email he sent “Bethany” would be legal because he doesn’t claim to be a psychotherapist in it). If you look at the case of Derek Gale, even after he was struck off and lost the right to use the protected title “Dramatherapist” he was able to carry on regardless practicing “Psychodrama”.

    In answer to your question “what exactly is the point of accredited registers?”, they are a new tool that is still being established isn’t really being used, so they aren’t doing anything useful yet. They have the potential to protect the public by giving people a reliable way of identifying and choosing safe, competent health and care professionals, but they won’t achieve that potential unless and until “Professional Standards Authority” and “Accredited Registers” become household names. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done and no guarantee that it will ever be done, but protected titles face exactly the same difficulties. When it comes to protecting the public (rather than protecting the good name of professionals) there is nothing that could be achieved through protected titles that can’t be achieved through accredited registers.

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