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Shrink suspended for dangerous 'gay cures'

Lesley Pilkington exposed by journalist for preaching gay cures during therapy sessions
Lesley Pilkington, pictured here being interviewed by Channel 4 News, practised dangerous gay cure therapy for 20 years

A shrink has been stripped of her accreditation for practicing dangerous ‘gay cure’ therapy.

Lesley Pilkington, a 61-year-old who had been a psychotherapist for 20 years, had her membership suspended from the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) after she was found to be telling patients she could cure their sexuality.

Award winning journalist Patrick Strudwick posed as a gay patient and secretly taped two therapy sessions with Pilkington three years ago.

In the tape, Strudwick asks Pilkington if she views homosexuality as ‘a mental illness, an addiction or an antireligious phenomenon’. She replies: ‘It is all of that.’

In the UK, homosexuality was declassified as an illness in 1968.

Pilkington, who has a 30-year-old gay son, says in the sessions if Strudwick is gay he must have been sexually abused.

When Strudwick replies he was not, she says: ‘It is something within you, but outside your mind. Is it ok with you if we ask the Holy Spirit to help you to bring these things to your conscious mind?’

Strudwick complained to the BACP, and in May last year Pilkington’s accreditation was suspended.

She appealed and it was revealed today (22 May) the BACP had unanimously decided to revoke her membership for professional malpractice.

Strudwick said to Channel 4 News: ‘These two sessions were alarming because they were based on the premise that homosexuality is an illness, a mental illness. Of course, we know that it isn’t and therefore it cannot be treated and should not be treated. ‘

In an interview with broadcaster Jon Snow, Pilkington says gay people come to her because they are depressed.

She said: ‘It can be changed for those who are motivated. For those who want change, they can certainly be changed. There is good evidence to show that.

‘There was an investigation by a psychotherapist called Bob Spitzer several years ago who in fact was at the forefront of wanting this kind of change therapy.

She adds: ‘A lot of people still regard it as an aberration which is a global world view. Well, I don’t agree it is prejudice because it is a valid point of view. It is an aberration from normal.’

Last April Spitzer said he now wants to retract his 2001 study which proclaimed that gay and lesbian people could change their sexual orientation.

'I believe I owe the gay community an apology for my study making unproven claims of the efficacy of reparative therapy,' the 80-year-old wrote in a letter.

He said: 'I also apologize to any gay person who wasted time and energy undergoing some form of reparative therapy because they believed that I had proven that reparative therapy works with some “highly motivated” individuals.' 

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