I received news last week that the British Association Of Counselling and Psychotherapy Sanction which was raised against me in July of last year is now lifted and the case closed. This comes after I complied with the requirements of BACP although I chose not to rejoin the voluntary governing body after the length of time taken to hear the complaint against me (31 months).

The complaint, which was made by a client in an out of court case and which was only partly upheld, led to a sanction. This required me to write a thousand word reflection on learning from the complaint, to attend a training day on contracting with difficult clients and to write a report on the learning from that training day.  These tasks are complete and the case is closed.

This is a brutal field to work in.  It is brutal because we are working with the most desperate, difficult and dirty parts of people’s lives and we are having to make clincal judgements about what we can and cannot do to help and how best we can help when we can.  In doing so we face the requirement to be cross examined on our opinions and scrutinised in our delivery of services. We are regularly lauded by one parent and lambasted by the other. We are complained about to all and sundry, including other practitioners and we face every negative emotion in the family known, whilst being required to asorb the conflict, process it, plot a steady course and somehow bring the children in a case to a safer, better place.  Working in this way requires absolute fortitude and belief in the possibility of better outcomes for children.  It is work within a psychological war zone and as a practitioner one has to be equipped both psychologically, emotionally and practically with the best possible skills.  Being able to face attempts to use the sanction to discredit my work whilst continuing to do it, has been a major achievement for me this year.

Working in this field this year, has also, however, brought me close to many practitioners who truly understand the risks to the self and the soul in doing this work.  This has allowed me to draw strength and resiliance from these connections.  Across the world I have also had the good fortune to build strong relationships with other practitioners and these have seen me through difficult days when I felt that the work itself was hard enough, making the psychological pressure of attacks by others easier to bear. Working closely with colleagues who understand these pressures, has given me a growing sense of clarity and confidence. Additionally,  being involved in some important cases and achieving significant success, has increased that sense of effectiveness.  I have come to understand that multi disciplined, alienation aware teams are what are really required in intractable cases and I have enjoyed this work this year and am continuing my learning with post reunfication support in several cases. News of this work and our successes will illustrate this and it will be available soon.

The sanction is now lifted and whilst I will no longer be a member of BACP I have learned from the experience. Some of it positive, such as the training day I attended on contracting with difficult people and some of it negative such as the actions of those clearly determined to use the sanction to ill effect.  Whilst I remain unhappy about the length of time BACP took to hear the complaint – their doing not mine and all concerned with their administrative process – I took from the sanction the learning I could and I complied with it and fulfilled it. I did so to demonstrate my worth, my integrity and my professional committment to listening and learning.  I am glad however that it is over and I am glad that on the whole it has not damaged the work that I do with families unduly.  Most of all I am glad to have met and gained the support and encouragement from a growing group of London based practitioners with whom I have founded strong ties and a shared interest in developing services to meet the needs of children and their families who suffer the horrible problem of alienation. All of whom have been amazingly supportive and understanding that complaints and the risk of sanction are what we face daily in doing this work.

Every cloud has a silver lining.  My cloud has lifted and the learning and support that has come with that process,  is worth its weight in gold.

Please note that the judgement against me by BACP is no longer publicly available and the sanction compliance and lifting notice will be published in the next edition of Therapy Today. For anyone wishing to instruct me on a case, please continue to do so via office@familyseparationclinic.co.uk to receive a copy of my CV along with the statement of compliance.  Please note however, that due to the very full diary at the Clinic, reunification work must be booked ahead of time. Therefore, if you or your legal team wish to propose the Clinic for a reunification intervention, please notify us of that as soon as you are considering doing so and we will give you an up to date schedule of our availability.  For assessments, please ask for information about availability via office@familyseparationclinic.co.uk. Please wait for our confirmation of availability to undertake the work before proposing us to the court.

I am pleased to be able to announce that I will be taking part in a debate about Parental Alienation which is being hosted by Withers Worldwide on May 24th with colleagues in London. This is an important debate which will be attended by the Judiciary as well as legal and mental health people as part of a drive to raise consciousness on the issues facing children in such cases. It promises to be a lively and well informed debate with plenty of media interest. More on this and links to coverage soon.