Struck off as a psychotherapist, but still practising. Charles Davison responds

Yesterday I broke the story that a psychotherapist had been struck off by the UK Council for Psychotherapy, but had simply carried on practising after being removed from the register. Unfortunately this is legal because “psychotherapist” is not a protected title.

I’ve had a response from Charles Davison, the psychotherapist in question. Frankly, I’m not very impressed by it.

Davison writes,

I have reduced the services I offer dramatically. I no longer offer psychotherapy or supervision. However I’m also trained in Stress management which offers short term solutions to stress-related illness. I am also NLP trained. I committed one offense in a 25 year career where I offered safe and effective therapy. I deeply, deeply regret what I’ve done and I’ve paid a very heavy price for my actions. I’m not a sexual predator but rather an ordinary man who made a dreadful and stupid choice. I’m not one of the narcissistic multiple offenders that I’ve read about on your site and clearly you are not above entraping me with a bogus request for therapy! So which moral high ground are you standing on!
I deeply regret my actions button err is human.
Best wishes
Charles Davison

Regarding his point about “entrapping me with a bogus request for therapy”, this refers to an email I sent posing as “Bethany Collier”. I’m not an expert on journalistic ethics, but my understanding is that undercover journalism is considered ethical when acting in the public interest. I certainly think this counts as being in the public interest, and this was the best way to find out if he was still offering his services to vulnerable people.

My email read:

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 is precisely the sort of person who shouldn’t be left alone with a clinician who’s committed sexual misconduct.
Mr Davison had replied to “Bethany Collier” (i.e. me) as follows.
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
So, as for his claim that “I no longer offer psychotherapy or supervision” that really doesn’t sound like what he’s saying to “Bethany”.
Also, there’s the evidence from his website.
davison2
Note that it begins with, “My name is Charles Davison and I provide psychotherapy”.
Regarding his statement that what he’s doing is stress management and NLP rather than psychotherapy, that’s a bit of a semantic argument. There’s all sorts of debates about what is and is not psychotherapy. The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, for example, argue that there’s isn’t a difference between counselling and psychotherapy. Others would disagree with that suggestion.
So, is “stress management and NLP” psychotherapy? Frankly, who cares? Would it be okay for a vulnerable adult to go to a clinician who’s been struck off for sexual misconduct, so long as what they’re doing is stress management rather than psychotherapy? Of course it’s not okay.
The UKCP decision on Davison’s conduct found that he “lacks insight into his conduct” and they were “not satisfied that he recognizes the seriousness of the failings in his actions”. After reading Mr Davison’s email, I’m starting to see what they mean.
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22 thoughts on “Struck off as a psychotherapist, but still practising. Charles Davison responds

  1. Im not sure if naming and shaming people like that is helping this whole situation. Dont get me wrong I am very angry that a ttherapist abused his power and is still working but im also sad to see others jump on him and ripping him apart. It feels like we are no better if we do this… but maybe one has to fight like this to get heard… or justice…

    • He’s already named and shamed on the UKCP website. I haven’t put out any information that isn’t already in the public domain.

      To be honest I’d have more sympathy for his little sob story if it didn’t contain some self-evidently false statements.

      • Give me a break – I love the way these guys try to justify their behavior by telling us that it is one time in 25 years – firstly one time in a lifetime is one too many times, and secondly once it’s one reported offence, nobody knows if it’s the one time or whether it’s the only time it’s been reported. The impact on a vulnerable adult is close to issuing a death warrant, and that is not an overstatement, and should not be treated lightly – it astonished me that these individuals only concern themselves with the price THEY have paid, not the price their victims have paid.

    • To be fair to Client1588, Mr Davison’s reponse is one that, intentionally or not, tugs at the heartstrings.

      If I seem rather unfeeling to his response, it’s because I’ve heard it all before. In just about every case of serious sexual misconduct I’ve covered, the therapist said the exact same thing. “I have made a mistake”, “I have paid a heavy price for this” etc etc.

      Mr Davison says he’s “not one of the narcissistic multiple offenders that I’ve read about on your site”. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but the offenders he mentions said that too.

      • This case throws up all sorts of questions.

        The panel report supports some aspects of his letter but not others. The panel agrees that he is not a predator. It says,

        “Whilst the Panel
        did not consider that the Registrant was a ‘predator’, his actions were clearly compounded
        by the fact that he had failed to utilize the safeguards of his own supervision. ”

        There is nothing in the ruling that suggests that the panel had reason to doubt that this situation is the first time that Mr. Davison has got himself into this sort of trouble or that they thought him to be the same sort of beast that this blog loves to hate. However, it did conclude that there would be a risk of future problems were something not done.

        “The Panel considered that these failings are capable of remediation, however they
        had not been adequately remediated;
        b. The Panel considered there to be a risk of repetition; and
        c. Despite some learning from this experience, the Panel determined that there seems
        to be an unclear and inadequately understood sense of professionalism and
        especially clinical boundaries.”

        I wonder if this is an example of “an ordinary person getting out of his depth” that we debated on this site a little while ago.

        I also wonder whether the panel’s action is consistent. If these failings are capable of remediation, this possiblity seems to be removed by the panel’s decision to strike off Mr. Davison. I wonder if a suspension with some kind of future further hearing would have been more appropriate. I can’t see how this would be different from an immediate suspension in terms of public protection or protection of the repution of the profession. In fact, it would be stronger protection in practice. it would also give Mr Davison the opportunity to remediate the situation in whatever manner is recognised by the Panel. It seems to me that the panel has forgotten that it is not there to punish. in fact, the report does not state that the panel formally noted this aspect of its purpose in the way many of them do. It cannot be easy to ‘demonstrate insight’ in addition to remorse in an adversarial tribunal. I am aware that Phil and others might believe that tribunals should punish, but it is not what they are established to do.

        The law around this is quite complex. If some kind of statutory regulation were to be introduced, stopping somebody practicing completely where the possibility of remediation existed would be legally dubious.

        I wonder, further, however. What remediation did the panel think possible? Does Mr. Davison’s unnaceptable behaviour demonstrate a weakness which is a fundamental character flaw or is he capable of change? It would be very problematic for psychotherapists to deny the latter possibility. In any other situation, what would one do if a man came to you for therapy who had difficulty controlling his sexual behaviour to the extent that it had put his career in such jeapody? Would you take the case? Surely it would be unethical to do so if you did not believe that he might be able to change.

      • As a personal view, I think that nearly all cases of proven sexual misconduct should result in a striking-off. Not because I believe fitness-to-practise hearings should be there to punish, but because that’s the view my own regulator, the Nursing and Midwifery Council, takes.

        Here’s the NMC Indicative Sanctions Guidance: http://www.nmc.org.uk/globalassets/sitedocuments/ftp_information/indicative-sanctions-guidance.may-12.pdf

        From pages 7-8

        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 haven’t heard of a serious sexual misconduct case found proven by the NMC where the outcome was anything other than a striking-off. There was a case in front of the Health and Care Professions Council where a clinical psychologist was given a suspension order for such an offence. However, the PSA appealled the decision to the High Court, where it was changed to a striking-off order.

      • Perhaps, “almost all” of those found guilty of sexual misconduct will be struck off, Phil. This still requires each case to be taken on its merits. The panel’s decision here would still appear to be internally inconsistent. Without knowing in what way they believe this failure might be remediated, it is hard to say more.

      • Either way, it’s a little academic as in the end they did strike him off. Which takes some doing since he’s only the third person the UKCP has struck off in the last five years.

  2. I totally get what you mean Phil and agree… I do feel the same way about it…
    A pity that his reply was not concerned with the client’ hurt and his regret of causing hurt but rather regret of doing what he did and being punished for it.

    “I deeply, deeply regret what I’ve done and I’ve paid a very heavy price for my actions.”

  3. As someone who has made a complaint against a practitioner, and as someone who is also a therapist, I would much rather see resolution and remediation than punishment. Although some practitioners are so narcissistic and psychopathic they should never be let near any vulnerable person.

    If there is no resolution for client and therapist, it is very likely that both will be left with quite unbearable projections which will cause further mental deterioration and disturbance.

  4. I agree with everything you’ve asserted here Phil. In response to others who feel that fairness must include the panel’s findings, I have to say that my experience of so-called psychotherapy complaints procedure is that it uses legal jargon in a toothless quasi legal system that waters down the complaint without having any legal clout, and journalism can cut through all of that. The fact that this guy responded to the woman you purported to be while undercover is enough. He’s been caught out at it again, lying and misrepresenting himself, regardless of any of the toothless legal jargon in the hearing findings. My own experience of the complaints procedure with the BACP has me reading any hearing report with a hefty amount of skepticism. And anyone thinking about taking that action should think carefully before doing it. Perhaps approach the Clinic for Boundary Studies for their help, because it is horrific for complainants, with a system discourages complaints in the first place. I think the more these people are named and shamed the better. It seems to be very difficult to lose your registration, so the fact that this guy has speaks volumes. Poor fella, he’s been hurt so much by this and paid a heavy cost for sexually abusing someone, just a little mistake of course, a human error. For goodness sake! These guys are scum. Would any of you leave them alone to help your daughters/sisters/wives in vulnerable states?

  5. Just to add, the Clinic of Boundary Studies believe “anyone can become a victim of professional abuse, just as anyone can become a perpetrator.”
    Not sure I agree with this…. and who is this organisation affiliated with? Are they completely separate from any other organisation?
    There is a lot of corruption going on in SOME training and counselling/psychotherapy/psychoanalytic governing bodies.

    I would always recommend complaining, although I do agree it is horrific. Especially when you are already vulnerable and on your last legs emotionally, as some corrupt organisations will try to blame the client to protect the therapist. This is what happened/is happening to me and I plan on writing about this experience publicly once it has been dealt with.

    • As I understand it, the Clinic of Boundary Studies is a private organisation that makes money by helping people manage claims and offering couselling to those who are doing so.

    • I’ve had some dealings with the Clinic for Boundaries Studies. They’re an independent organisation, though their therapists are all registered with one of the professional bodies. e.g. BACP

      Personally, I trust them. They’ve always struck me as very ethical.

  6. It is very worrying that there might be corruption in the trainings or governing bodies. It seems like a broad statement. Can you say which bodies, what corruption? It’s hard to know how to relate to what you are saying otherwise.

  7. I know and I am sorry i have mentioned it now. Its not fair without giving some sort of evidence. But I am in the middle of a complaint which, once it is over, I will write about. But there will probably be further complaints about this irganisation to the PSA so I am not sure when I will be able to write about it

  8. This organisation has closed ranks when I complained against one of their analysts. And when I thought, ah, truth will speak for itself, they abandoned their complaint procedure and held the Hearing, which I should have been part of (as well as the analyst and all witnesses) in secret. They also did not take vital evidence into account even though I offered it and even though it would have been accepted as evidence (digital recordings).
    They then send me a “finding” which was absolutely appalling. From ignoring most of my accusations like blackmail (just didnt mention them, a tactic the analyst also did.) to distorting them (as if they didnt read the complaint right, most bizarre) to blaming me the client for breaking my own confidentiality (although analyst admitted she broke my confidentiality)
    The whole process and its findings have been most bizarre and luckily I have friends (who are also therapists) who are very supportive of me and just equally as shocked.

    This has been ongoing for over a year now and still I am waiting for the results of my appeal, which will be most likely dismissed as the appeal is checked by the very same organisation that dismissed my complaint, aborted the complaint procedure and trained the analyst.

  9. When I asked why the hearing was held in secret without me, when before it was confirmed that the hearing panel was setting a date for the hearing where we could all attend, (which was also the way the complaint procedure explained it) I was told that:

    ““The Hearing Panel may decide to reach its determination without proceeding to the hearing if it considers this is the best way forward. Under the provision of paragraph 4.34, the Panel may decide its own procedures if they adhere to the principles of general fairness. After careful study and consideration of the material, because the panel did not find breaches of the Code of Ethics in the context of the complaint, they considered there was no case to answer and it would have not been in the interest of fairness to proceed to a hearing.”

    This is an absolute lie, paragraph 4.34 does not state that at all! And how would this be fair lol… anyway… it is a huge story, which i cant tell here. I will have to find the energy to write about it in detail, but right now my energgy is put into surviving this first.

  10. Using my voice and speaking up is bringing me peace, thank you.

  11. By the way, this organisation is now in the process of changing their Complaint Procedure so that they as well as the therapists are more protected legally. My guess is, once this new procedure is up and running I will hear of the appeal results.

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