Investigative journalist calls for tougher regulations for therapists, as BACP formally opposes 'gay cure' practices
A UK psychotherapist has been struck off for using ‘gay cure’ therapy, after a two and a half year battle by an undercover journalist.
Lesley Pilkington, a 61-year-old who had been a shrink for 20 years, had her membership suspended from the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) in May 2012 after she was found to be telling patients she could cure their sexuality.
The decision to ban her completely from practicing in the UK has been applauded by award-winning journalist Patrick Strudwick whose undercover investigation, in which he posed as a gay patient, led to her being found guilty of malpractice.
However, Strudwick attacked the BACP for not withdrawing her membership entirely earlier, branding the process a ‘diabolical shambles’.
In an article in The Independent, he claims despite many people believing the BACP’s rejection of her suspension appeal was the final nail in the coffin for Pilkington’s career, it merely upheld the original verdict and sanctions imposed on her.
Pilkington was, therefore, still able to retain her membership if she was able to prove she had made approproate changes in her practice.
‘The BACP is Britain’s largest body of therapists, with some 30,000 members, all paying an annual membership fee,’ Strudwick wrote in The Independent.
‘It prides itself on its “ethical framework” and complaints procedure. But these limp sanctions were merely the final insult.’
This week the BACP has, for the first time in history, instructed members that gay conversion therapy is unethical.
The other main professional body for British psychotherapists, the UK Council for Psychotherapy, had issued similar guidance to members back in 2010.
While welcoming the BACP’s formal position on so-called reparitive therapy, Strudwick is calling for tougher regulations to stop the practice for good, calling the BACP ‘unfit for purpose’.
‘Anyone can set up as a therapist without any training. Anyone can attempt to “cure” another of his or her homosexuality,’ he said.
‘Even the therapists who are members of professional bodies are only liable if their organisation happens to have a clear stance on conversion therapy.’
He suggests the introduction of a new law banning ‘gay cure’ therapy, similar to the one which was introduced in California this week.