Therapist who sexually abused clients returns to practice

A Jungian psychotherapist who was found to have sexually abused a mentally ill client in his care has put up a new website advertising his services.

Stuart Macfarlane was previously registered with the Guild of Analytical Psychologists, a member organisation of the UK Council for Psychotherapy. In 2012 the Guild of Analytical Psychoanalysts found allegations proved that he had committed serious breaches of boundaries with a vulnerable client. Unsafe Spaces learned that these breaches were of a sexual nature, and the client experienced severe trauma as a result of his behaviour.

The case was controversial, because the Guild of Analytical Psychologists chose not to strike him off, but instead gave him a suspension. However, Macfarlane resigned from the GAP during his suspension period. UKCP member organisations are now no longer allowed to handle complaints in-house, which instead go through the UKCP complaints process.

In 2014 a second ex-client came forward to the Daily Mail, accusing him of abusing her in a very similar way to the first.

Macfarlane has now put up a blog, describing himself as a “seasoned and well-respected therapist with over 30 years of experience”. It also states that he “still resides in London and continues to delve into the world of psychology, helping many people along the way.”

This sort of behaviour is sadly not unusual. Our Unsafe Spaces report found that one in four counsellors or psychotherapists struck off by professional bodies continue to practice. This is legal because neither “counsellor” nor “psychotherapist” are protected titles, and anybody can use these titles.

Unsafe Spaces has also issued guidance on keeping safe from abuse when accessing counselling or psychotherapy. We strongly recommend that clients check their therapist’s registration before beginning therapy.

 

 

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Stuart Macfarlane, the Daily Mail and therapy abuse

Back in September, I broke the news of Stuart Macfarlane, a Jungian psychotherapist who committed serious sexual misconduct with a vulnerable client, causing huge psychological trauma to her. Outrageously, he was not struck off by the Guild of Analytical Psychologists, but merely given a two year suspension. He could be practising again in September.

Today, the Daily Mail has broken the news that he had a second victim, Flora McEvedy has clearly shown a great deal of courage in stepping forward to tell her account. Sadly, the Mail’s presentation of the story is dreadful.

A word of advice to the Mail. When reporting the exploitation of a vulnerable adult by a professional, here’s a few pitfalls you really should try to avoid. Continue reading

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.

The Stuart Macfarlane case – the UKCP responds

Today I published the story that Stuart Macfarlane, a psychotherapist registered with the Guild of Analytical Psychologists and UK Council for Psychotherapy, had been suspended for two years due to serious sexual misconduct with a mentally ill patient. The normal sanction for this kind of misconduct is a striking-off, not a suspension.

Earlier in the week I’d e-mailed the UKCP. This is what I asked them.

Thanks for your e-mail. I was just about to contact you as it happens. The story is regarding Stuart Macfarlane, who is currently suspended for two years by the Guild of Analytical Psychologists (formerly the Guild for Analytical Psychology and Spirituality).

Can you confirm that this was for serious sexual misconduct with a patient (a vulnerable adult with mental health issues)? 

Does the UKCP have an opinion on GAP’s decision to suspend rather than strike off Mr Macfarlane?

Is there a reason why Mr Macfarlane’s case is not on the UKCP complaints archive?

Will Mr Macfarlane be allowed to re-register with the GAP/UKCP at the end of his suspension?

I’ll be aiming to publish on this story on Friday, so I’d appreciate any response from the UKCP before then.

The UKCP’s response arrived Friday lunchtime, so wasn’t included in my original post. That said, it’s quite a long response, so it’s probably worth giving it a post of its own.

The complaint against Stuart MacFarlane was handled by a UKCP member organisation. I am sure you will address your questions about the detail of the case to that organisation. We are unable to comment on their complaints process or details of the case because we are an appeals body.

We do not publish decisions made by other organisations because this falls outside our policy on the publication of decisions. This policy is available on our website:http://www.psychotherapy.org.uk/ukcp_standards_and_policy_statements.html

We are unable to make speculative comments on whether a named individual would be allowed to re-register. We have a proper process for cases to be considered. What we can say is that for any member wishing to re-register at the end of a sanction, UKCP’s Registrar would consider the possibility in light of whether the sanctions were complied with, along with other factors.

The UKCP member organisation that has made decisions about Mr Stuart MacFarlane, has issued public statements about the case which you can find here:

http://www.analyticalpsychology.org/simpleblog/upload/file/Decision%20regarding%20Stuart%20MacFarlane%282%29.pdf

We are utterly in favour of strong regulation. We have regulatory systems to protect the public and the privacy of those involved. Those systems include controls on qualifications, entry to our register and fair systems for dealing with those cases where there is reason to question whether someone should be allowed to continue on the register. And within these strict processes we have lay and professional involvement, and access to appeals where someone feels a case has not been handled properly. For that reason we can’t engage in speculation about cases or trial over the internet.

So, if a UKCP-registered therapist is disciplined by a UKCP member organisation, this doesn’t get published by the UKCP? That’s surprising, to say the least. I looked up their publications policy for fitness to practise decisions, and there it indeed is.

Decisions of Member Organisations
22. UKCP will not publish the determination of an organisational member, where complaints had originated from the organisational member complaints process.

The policy is dated 29th November 2012. I presume this must be a change in policy, because they’d previously published the determination for Geoffrey Pick, suspended by the Arbours Association in May 2011, also for serious sexual misconduct (he was subsequently allowed to re-register both with Arbours and UKCP, and then resigned when the media started to take an interest).

Admittedly this is an issue that eventually should become moot for future cases as all the member organisations sign up with the UKCP’s new centralised Complaints and Conduct Process. However, that doesn’t protect the public in this particular case.

I think I’ll address their final comment about “trial over the internet”. I’m not a fan of trial by internet either. I’m a fan of trial by…well, trials. Or at least trial by fitness to practice hearing. And Mr Macfarlane has indeed had a hearing where there was a finding of fact. I’ve e-mailed the GAP, the UKCP and Macfarlane, and so far none of them have disputed the facts that I’ve queried. Admittedly that’s partly because they didn’t tell me much anyway. Even so, none of them have e-mailed me back saying, “No, no, it definitely wasn’t serious sexual misconduct!”

What concerns me here isn’t so much the fact finding as the way it was published (or wasn’t), and the kind of sanction imposed. At the risk of repeating myself from previous posts, here is the indicative sanctions guidance that the Nursing and Midwifery Council uses.

 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.

Given that this is not only a case of serious sexual misconduct, but one in which significant harm was inflicted on a vulnerable adult, it seems inconceivable that this wouldn’t have resulted in a striking-off anywhere else. And even if it was conceivable, there’s that line about how panels should be “particularly careful in explaining clearly and fully the reasons why they made such a determination.” The GAP’s statement is clearly not particularly careful to explain this. If anything, it’s particularly vague. If I hadn’t gone digging, it wouldn’t be clear at all that it was a case of this severity.

For that reason, what I’m engaging in here is not trial by internet, but the use of Google as safeguarding by other means.

A second therapist commits serious sexual misconduct, is not struck off

Back in April I broke the news of Geoffrey Pick, a psychotherapist registered with the Arbours Association and UK Council for Psychotherapy. After conducting an “inappropriate relationship” with one of his patients, he was suspended for a year instead of struck off. He was then allowed to re-register with the Arbours and UKCP. Only when it came to media attention did he resign his registration. Shockingly, I’ve now discovered that this is not the only case of its kind.

A couple of months ago I was researching this blog post, which I wrote after I’d noticed that a high percentage of psychotherapists facing misconduct hearings seemed to be Jungians (Pick was from a Jungian background). It was pointed out to me that there was a case involving a Jungian that didn’t appear in the UKCP complaints archive. Stuart Macfarlane had been suspended for two years by the Guild of Analytical Psychologists (formerly the Guild for Analytical Psychology and Spirituality). The details of what he did were rather vague.

Stuart MacFarlane has been found to be in breach of the GAP Code of Ethics 2008 (1.7) in
two areas:
1. personal relationships – infringing and violating the trust of a client
2. inadequate standards of practice.

He has also been found to have breached the Code of Ethics 2008 (3.6) concerning
Professional Boundaries:

3.6 psychotherapists shall not take advantage of or exploit the dependent nature of the
therapeutic relationship, current or past, for example with regard to fees, sex or in any
other respect.

These breaches constitute Serious Professional Misconduct under section 7.1(b) of the
Code of Ethics.

I’ve since been able to establish that Mr Macfarlane engaged in serious sexual misconduct with a client. The individual in question is a vulnerable adult with mental health difficulties. As a consequence of his actions, she experienced a deterioration in her mental health. She continues to receive psychiatric support.

To give a comparison of what would usually be the sanction, 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.

Macfarlane, however, was not struck off. He received a two-year suspension order. Potentially at the end of this he could be allowed to rejoin the Boy’s Club, sorry, Guild of Analytical Psychologists, and resume practice. Oh, and he was also ordered to write a letter of apology to the client and refund her fees – as though she’s a dissatisfied customer at Sainsbury’s rather than somebody subjected to the worst possible breach of boundaries.

I e-mailed the GAP. They declined to elaborate further on his misconduct besides the information posted online. I asked why he was not struck off and whether he would be allowed to re-register. They replied, “The decision reached was in accordance with the complaints process set out under the G.A.P. Complaints Procedure Code, which emphasises the confidentiality of the proceedings. We are unable to comment on an individual’s possibility of being allowed to re-register until the suspension period has ended, and such matters as compliance with the sanctions have been considered.”

And why is his case not in the UKCP’s online complaints archive? The outcomes listed there are, by and large, far less serious than Macfarlane’s. In case there’s any doubt that Macfarlane was a UKCP therapist, here’s his entry on the register, dated 29th October 2011.

Stuart Macfarlane UKCP Page

I e-mailed the UKCP to ask why he’s not in the archive, and if he will be allowed to rejoin the UKCP register. I haven’t so far received a reply. [Edited to add: the UKCP have now responded]

I did, however, get a reply from Macfarlane himself.

Thank you for your email, and for giving me the opportunity to answer your questions in advance of your publishing. I have made a mistake and I am doing all I can to make amends, including attending therapy weekly.
I broadly support your goal to improve and standardise regulation across the psychotherapy profession, but as I do not agree with the way you are going about it, I shall not be engaging any further with you about this .
However, I wish you well.
Another therapist who has completely overstepped the mark with his client, resulting in catastrophic consequences to a vulnerable person. And this time next year he could possibly be practising again.
Utterly unbelievable.