We are here as the result of a group of counsellors who had been subject to complaints and who were subsequently put through Professional Conduct hearings getting together to discuss the experience as we were deeply disturbed by it.
Unhappily, a common theme emerged of a bruising and unpleasant experience which appears very amateur and open to abuse, no attempt to encourage problem solving and the bringing together of individuals to find solutions and encourage learning but rather a relentless almost mechanical prosecution in which all of the BACP's rules and tenets of behaviour, respect, unconditional regard et al . went out of the metaphorical window to be replaced by a mediaveal style inquisition which on occasion descended to sarcasm and bullying on the part of the tribunal leader.
Any appeal against this process is of course to the same people, there is no accountability by the higher echelons of the organisation;basically, comply or have membership withdrawn and, potentially, your livelihood with it.
We found that there was no organisation of our peers to whom we could turn for unbiased and non-judgemental advice and to be heard, or for a bit of support in those first opening days when the shock of what was happening was at its greatest. Everyone is entitled to be heard and supported and must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise.Fairness works both ways.
These experiences ,may or may not be common, but they encouraged us to seek others and to explore the idea of a support network, even a Union if you like and that's what we are working towards now, with an increasing number of enquiries and members.
The currrent vision is simple, we do not support malpractice in any way but believe that all should have access to support in its most basic and human form.
In time we hope to be able to include other services such as legal advice but for now it's like this: contact us if you need support, email is best for now and there are links on various pages of this site. One of us will call you and offer up to an hour in which to discuss matters.
This is free of charge but what we ask in return is that you give an hour of your time to someone else in the future. We'll keep a record and of course will not approach you at an inappropriate time.
Whether you want to join up with us is up to you, no pressure from us.
We found a great deal wanting in the Professional Conduct procedures, fairness and justice must always be the goals, but so should respect and a fair hearing, to be treated politely (in accordance with BACP guidelines) and to have a competent and fair investigation with a high level of proof for evidence and to be investigated by skilled individuals-we want also to pursue these issues in an attempt to ensure a fair balance betweeen accuser and accused
No doubt therapists make mistakes, some may be unethical, people make vexatious and malicious complaints too or act- out as part of their ongoing process of recovery. This is not about judging those issues or providing somewhere for malpractice to be hidden,
It is simply to support where support is needed, non judgementally and in full awareness of confidentiality and of the requirement of courts or other properly constituted enquiries to compel evidence.
Regulation must come soon, this will surely be a good thing for us, to move to being under the overview of a national government body that will hopefully require all parties to act within rules and to conform to laid down standards. Right now a counselling body taking proceedings against you reports to no-one whatsoever-who watches the watcher?
This can't be fair. Justice should be seen-a basic tenet of Human Rights.
So, that's why we are here, give us a call if you need or want to and even better, join up. it is the beginning, with luck, of a better future for all of us.
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