UKCP strikes off psychotherapist

Following the godawful decision by the UK Council for Psychotherapy to impose a 6 month suspension for serious sexual misconduct (after which the therapist was allowed to re-register), there’s been another hearing outcome, again involving serious sexual misconduct. This time however, the registrant has been struck off.

Obviously, that represents an improvement on the terrible decision-making in the Rob Waygood case. But does it mean that the UKCP’s complaints process is becoming more robust? Personally, I’m not convinced.

Continue reading

Therapist who breached sexual boundaries returns to psychotherapy practice

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.

Continue reading

Another questionably lenient misconduct outcome by the UKCP

The UKCP may have now achieved accredited voluntary register status with the Professional Standards Authority, but even now some of its misconduct decisions can raise a few eyebrows. In January 2014 they gave a Jungian analyst, Rob Waygood, a 6 month suspension for serious sexual misconduct with a client. With statutory regulators such as the General Medical Council or Nursing and Midwifery Council, such behaviour pretty much guarantees a striking-off, not 6 months on the naughty step.

Here’s another decision by UKCP that raises concern. In December 2013 an outcome was reached for Susan Clancy, a psychotherapist who seems to have inadvertently traumatised a client through some intervention that involved holding them. Misconduct was proved, but the UKCP simply decided not to issue a sanction. Continue reading

A 6 month suspension for sleeping with a client: Rob Waygood and the UKCP

A few days ago I commented on this recent decision by the UK Council for Psychotherapy to give a Jungian therapist, Rob Waygood, a 6 month suspension rather than a striking-off. Waygood admitted to starting a sexual relationship with a client shortly after the therapy ended. There is no statutory regulator for counselling or psychotherapy, but the UKCP recently became an “accredited voluntary register” with the Professional Standards Authority.

Before exploring this case further, I’m going to put something out there. When I’ve discussed similar cases in the past on this blog, I’ve subsequently wound up getting e-mails from people who know more about those particular cases. I’ve no idea if there’s anyone out there in a similar situation who happens to be reading, but if they are, my e-mail address is thus_spake_z at hushmail dot com.

For my own regulator, the Nursing and Midwifery Council, the indicative sanctions guidance is very clear.

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.

Not only did the UKCP not strike Waygood off, but the original sanction was ridiculously lenient. A warning letter, plus an order to spend two years attending supervision. Such slaps on the wrist used to be absolutely typical of some psychotherapy organisations, particularly those of a psychoanalytic persuasion. There’s numerous past cases where serious boundary breaches were written off as transference gone wrong rather than abuse, and the therapist got sent on his way with nothing worse than a ticking-off.

In this day and age, and particularly now that the UKCP is an assured voluntary register, such token sanctions simply won’t do. The UKCP appealed the decision as unduly lenient, arguing that his behaviour “was fundamentally incompatible with the Registrant remaining on UKCP’s Register.” On appeal the sanction was increased to a 6 month suspension.

Given that the UKCP haven’t struck Waygood off, have they been particularly careful in explaining their reasons for such a determination?

I e-mailed the Professional Standards Authority to ask what they thought of the case. It’s the PSA’s policy not to comment on individual cases, but they did state that, “We expect all AVRs to take sexual misconduct seriously.” They also kindly provided me with a link to the relevant guidance.

I’ve been browsing the PSA’s, Clear sexual boundaries between healthcare professionals and patients: guidance for fitness to practise panels to see how it compares with the UKCP’s decision for Rob Waygood.

The PSA guidance doesn’t state anything along the lines of “for x misconduct, issue y sanction”. However, it does give some suggestions of what might be considered aggravating and mitigating factors.

Some of the aggravating factors they list include:

the vulnerability of the patient. Research shows that abusers often target vulnerable groups of patients, including those seeking help for mental health or emotional problems

The UKCP decision doesn’t give any indication of whether the client had any mental health issues or other vulnerabilities. That said, one could argue that anyone undergoing therapy is in a vulnerable position, particularly in a piece of psychodynamic therapy where you’re opening up your deepest thoughts to a stranger. We do know from the decision that the client suffered harm as a result of the relationship.

whether the healthcare professional took deliberate steps to facilitate abuse, for example scheduling the appointment as the last of the day, working without a chaperone being present, making inappropriate house calls, dissuading the patient from seeking a second opinion

In the Waygood decision, “Visiting the client’s house sometime between 18 and 21 April 2011 and acting in an affectionate manner” certainly reads like an inappropriate house call to me.

whether there was any grooming of the patient, ie did the healthcare professional deliberately cultivate an empathetic relationship with the patient over a period of time?

“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”? “Hugging and kissing his client on the hair or neck on either 14 or 28 March 2011”? That sounds suspiciously like grooming.

whether the healthcare professional used confidential information obtained in the course of treatment to their advantage, for example by encouraging the patient to discuss marital problems whilst providing ‘a shoulder to cry on’

Yep. The decision accuses Waygood of, “Using material discussed in therapy to attempt to convince the client to pursue a relationship.”

Waygood was represented at his hearing by a Mr Glyn Oldfield of Brookfields Professional Conduct Services. This is a company that provides what looks to me like Tesco Value representation at misconduct hearings by non-lawyers, presumably for people who can’t afford a lawyer – though they don’t view it that way. They say, “You do not need a lawyer!  Most disciplinary processes are not legalistic and what counts is detailed knowledge of your profession, the relevant procedures and how best to respond, not a general knowledge of the law!” I’d be interested to hear what an actual law firm would say about that – particularly a firm that specialises in representing professionals at fitness-for-practice hearings.

Waygood and Mr Oldfield presented a number of mitigating factors – he made an early admission, and demonstrated some insight into what he had done wrong.

The Panel was satisfied that that the Registrant had made early admissions in respect of these allegations and had not sought to deny the allegations, nor indeed to put the aggrieved party to the task of giving evidence at the earlier hearing, or at the Appeal.

Fair enough, he confessed his wrongdoing, and spared his client the ordeal of having to testify. But this results in something that rings an alarm bell for me.

Both Mr Oldfield and the Registrant submitted that the harm to the complainant had not fallen into the category of serious harm, and further that the complainant had not been present at the previous hearing and both her account and some matters of fact that were in dispute had not been tested (by cross-examination).

Was the complainant asked whether she thought the harm she incurred was serious or not? And besides, where does one draw the line between what is “harm” and what is “serious harm”? And even if she didn’t suffer serious harm, was consideration also given to the potential harm that could have been incurred by Waygood’s behaviour? As the PSA makes clear, the trauma from these kinds of boundary breaches has the potential to be absolutely huge and life-changing.

So, going back to that quote I found in the NMC Indicative Sanctions Guidance,

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.

Has the UKCP been particularly careful in that regard? As a personal opinion, I’d say not.

UKCP fails to strike off yet another therapist who committed sexual misconduct

A few months ago I noticed that a Jungian psychotherapist called Rob Waygood had been suspended from the UK Council for Psychotherapy. His suspension noticed briefly disappeared and then reappeared from the UKCP complaints page, and his website also reappeared then disappeared. I took this to mean there had been a ruling and then an appeal.

The ruling has now been published, and it turns out that Waygood had a sexual relationship with a client, which caused the client harm. Concerningly, he hasn’t been struck off but instead has been given a 6 month suspension.

As it happens there was indeed an appeal, though it was the UKCP who appealed rather than Waygood, on the grounds that the original sanction was unduly lenient. Incredibly, the panel simply ordered a warning letter.

The details in the online ruling are fairly scant, but they state that Waygood started a sexual relationship with his client a short time after the therapy ended. It sounds like there were some precursors happening during the therapy, such as Waygood commenting on the client’s femininity during a session.

This isn’t the first time that a UKCP psychotherapist has committed the worst possible breach of boundaries and not been struck off. In May 2011 Geoffrey Pick was suspended for a year after sexually abusing a client. He was then put back on the UKCP register, and later resigned when the media started taking an interest. Stuart Macfarlane is currently serving a two year suspension from the Guild of Analytical Psychologists and UKCP, again for sexually abusing a client. He could be practising again after September. In both the the Pick and Macfarlane cases, their victims suffered massive psychological trauma.

The UKCP seems to have extremely poor timing in making this decision. They’re an “assured voluntary register” with the Professional Standards Authority, and their complaints procedure is due to be audited soon by the PSA to ensure quality control. Meanwhile, Geraint Davies MP has a private members bill before Parliament, calling for statutory rather than voluntary regulation for counsellors and psychotherapists. The second reading is later this month.

The Waygood decision states that, “The Panel determined that the Registrant’s behaviour was so serious that the reputation of both the profession and that of the regulators was at enormous risk.” Those reputations certainly are at risk, not only by his behaviour but by this lenient decision.

UKCP strikes off first psychotherapist in four years

In the past the UK Council for Psychotherapy has had a pretty dreadful record for complaints-handling. Up until recently the only person they’d ever struck off in recent years was the notorious cult leader Derek Gale, booted off the register in 2009 for sexually, emotionally, physically and financially abusing his clients.

Since then there’s been ongoing, but painfully slow work to improve their procedures, not least due to the need to obtain accreditation from the Professional Standards Authority. Hopefully it’s a sign of this improvement that the UKCP has now, for the first time since the Gale case, struck off a therapist.

The dubious honour goes to a Leeds-based therapist by the name of Julia Eastwood. The reason why she’s been struck off are pretty straightforward.

It has come to UKCP’s attention that the respondent has and continues to advertise and offer services as a psychotherapist. The FTPT were provided with links of websites (listed below) which demonstrated non-compliance of the suspension order of 26 June 2013.

www.juliaeastwood.co.uk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRzryzvfqw4
http://www.julia-eastwood.com/#!stayslimforever/c1jox
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2SfLH0ZSDU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLzLhjT0T1w

UKCP invited the respondent to address the evidence in relation to her continuing practise. The respondent did not refute nor address the allegations. She stated that she is no longer a member of UKCP and that UKCP are not to write to her again.
The FTPT were particularly concerned that the respondent’s website shows unequivocally that she is offering psychotherapy services despite being advised by UKCP that she should not be practising or offering psychotherapy services whilst she has a suspension order in place.

So, she hasn’t complied with her suspension, is therefore struck off. I’ve been heavily critical of the UKCP in the past, but I think it’s only fair to state that this is an entirely correct decision.

Sadly, the fact that “psychotherapist” and “counsellor” aren’t protected titles means this happens fairly regularly. I’ve come across several examples of suspended or even struck off therapists who have just carried on practicing regardless. Ms Eastwood’s website certainly continues to advertise her services.

As it happens, there’s another psychotherapist, Rob Waygood, who is currently on an interim suspension order with the UKCP, pending a hearing for gross professional misconduct…

…and as it also happens, he’s continuing to advertise his services online too.

robwaygood

Screenshot taken at roughly 8.30pm on 14th November 2013.