NCPS | Professional Conduct Notices

In this section, the Society gives details of the outcomes of any complaints made against members.

  • There is a summary of the complaint
  • The member's details
  • The outcome of the investigation
  • The details of sanctions imposed
  • Details of suspension of membership
  • Details of termination of membership

Publication Policy

The Society’s complaints procedures seek to be open, transparent and proportionate. Sanctions issued by either the Assessment Panel or by the Independent Complaints Panel following a complaints hearing will be published on the Society’s website

The publication of such decisions provides information about the standards expected of registrants (and members); assists clients to make informed choices, and helps to maintain public confidence in the Accredited Register programme.

We aim to strike a balance and consider the rights of both clients and registrants and take account of the risk of any harm that may arise from the disclosure or non-disclosure of information

Details of sanctions will appear as an annotation to a registrant’s online register entry. In addition, an outline of the case will be placed on the ‘Outcomes of Complaints’ section of the website. A note of the complaint will be added to the member’s file.

Upon completion of the sanction, the Societies will change the online register entry to reflect that the sanction has been met. The Societies will display the “Sanction Met” annotation and the outline of the case under Outcomes of Complaints section for a further period of 6 months after completion of sanction. The members file will be updated.

If a sanction is not met, the societies will change the online register entry to “Sanction Not Met” and information on Outcomes of Complaint will be published on the Society website for a period of five years.

In cases where a member is removed from the register, or accepts Voluntary Removal following a panel hearing, the published decision will remain on the website for a period of five years.

If there is no sanction then no information will be published on the Societies website.


Outcome Of Complaints


  • Paul Allenby

    PA00P02

    OUTCOME : REMOVAL OF MEMBERSHIP – NON COMPLIANCE with Conditional Membership sanction

    Assessment Panel: February 2019

    Appeal Panel: July 2019

    Outline of complaint:

    In September 2018 the Society received a client complaint upon the breakdown of counselling relationship with the registrant and the client’s request to end their counselling contract.

    In line with the 2018 NCS Code of Ethics and in accordance with the Society’s complaints procedures the NCS Public Protection Officer referred the complaint to the Society’s Assessment Panel to consider evidence around the following:

    • The registrant’s communications with his client
    • Compliance with Supervision requirements
    • Consideration of terms and conditions of membership relating to the complaint process
    • Consideration of registrant response to a guidance Learning Point issued in May 2018.

    Assessment Panel

    Decision

    The panel found that the registrants’ actions had not reflected the NCS ethical standards or guidance in communication with the complainant

    The complaint considered written and reported communications between the registrant and complainant only. The NCS has no authority to engage in financial requests.

    The Panel were informed of a ‘guidance learning point’ received by the registrant in June 2018 which directed him to implement an appropriate procedure if he was required to cancel client appointments at short notice.

    Overview Finding

    The Panel’s finding was that the registrant did not offer a respectful, professional, ethical service when communicating with the complainant. Messages surrounding an unfortunate emergency cancelation portrayed expectation of deference, include inappropriate, unnecessary personal disclosure and highly emotive, persuasive language. These were later compounded by accusations and emotive texts by the registrant which placed an emotional burden on his client.

    It was the view of the Panel that had the registrant followed the previous NCS guidance learning point, it would have assisted him in this situation.

    The Panels view was that in his responses to the complaint the registrant had failed to display reflective understanding of the therapeutic relationship within context of a business contract. Or offer appropriate reflective insight into his behaviour and the importance of professional boundaries in counselling arrangements.

    Contrary to the following sections of the Ethical Framework:

    Fundamental principals

    Working towards the good of clients and doing no harm (Beneficence and Non-maleficence)

    Practitioners hold the welfare of clients central to their work and so commit to avoiding harm.

    Being trustworthy and responsible (Fidelity)

    Practitioners endeavour to establish trust with their clients and the community in which they work. Therefore, practitioners not only honour the trust placed in them by their clients and the community but also act in a respectful, professional and ethical manner when representing their profession.

    All Practitioners undertake to:

    Offering a Service

    5. Respect the autonomy of clients to choose whether or not to avail themselves or continue to avail themselves of the service offered.

    Delivering a Service

    1. Work in ways that promote client autonomy and well-being and that maintain respect and dignity for the client.

    4. Decline with explanation, inappropriate gifts, gratuities or favours from a client. Examples include, but are not limited to financial gifts, event or discount vouchers, objects of substantial monetary value. The offering of any gift in therapy is an important event in the therapist-client relationship, and its implications should be discussed with the client and considered in supervision.

    6. Be consistent with the welfare and expressed wishes of the client and never protract treatment unnecessarily and to terminate treatment at the earliest moment consistent with the welfare and expressed wishes of the client.

    General Conduct

    5. Ensure that they maintain the highest level of communication with clients (avoiding abbreviation and shorthand) whether by telephone; email; text or any other social media messaging service (Facebook; WhatsApp). See (Appendix C)

    The panel found that the Registrant had not adhered to Supervision requirements

    The registrant did not provide details of a supervisor or any supporting evidence that he had met with the Society’s Supervision requirements at the time of being in a contracted therapeutic arrangement with the complainant.

    The Panel raised a concern that the registrant had not properly considered his fitness to practice responsibilities with reference to supervision, particularly at a time of stress or impactful personal-life events.

    Contrary to the following sections of the Ethical Framework:

    Fundamental Principles

    A practitioner of NCS will need to demonstrate that they have considered these principles in their ethical practice and decision making, especially discussing them with their supervisor.

    Justice

    Practitioners are aware of their own judgements based on their own experiences, and need to take precautions (supervision) to provide a service that is not restricted by their own prejudice and limitations of experience

    Delivering a Service

    All Practitioners undertake to:

    7. Remain aware of their own limitations and wherever appropriate, be prepared to refer a client to another practitioner or medical adviser who might be expected to offer suitable treatment.

    Ensure that clients with presenting issues outside of a practitioner's scope of ability, are discussed in supervision and where appropriate referred to another practitioner.

    Supervision

    all practitioners undertake to:

    1. Have formal one to one supervision in place and obtained from a properly qualified and trained supervisor. Attendance should be commensurate with practice hours.
    1. Ensure a written contract is provided from the supervisor.
    1. Keep a record of supervision hours.

    Terms and conditions of NCS membership

    The panel were informed that the terms and conditions of Society membership require a registrant to fully participate with the complaint’s procedure.

    The registrant in his responses to the NCS repeatedly questioned the validity of the complaint being accepted and investigated.

    The registrant did not declare that he was ‘not fit for practice’ until pressed for information by the NCS PPO with regards to the complaint. The Panel found that the registrant did not declare that he was ‘not in practice’ appropriately.

    Findings:

    Conditional Membership Sanction

    The Panel noted that the registrant is currently marked as ‘not in practice’ but had expressed plans for his return to practice in early 2019.

    Conditional Membership Sanction

    Prior to his return to counselling, The registrant was ordered to produce:

    An immediate update to the NCS with regards to his counselling practice.

    • Evidence of Supervision and Insurance
    • A written statement to demonstrate reflection and learning in relation to the complaint and details of preparation for his return to practice after a break

    Following 6 months practice:

    Registrant to provide a report from his Supervisor, showing that he has fully understood and put into practice the issues relating to:

    • Importance of and proper use of supervision

    • Relevance of guidance learning issued by complaints panels for the NCS

    • Registrant’s understanding of the client/therapist relationship

    • Improvements in standards of Communication with his clients

    • Professional Insight and developmental learning displayed by the registrant and awareness of his duty of compliance with the requirements of membership

    Appeal

    On 25th April 2019 the registrant exercised his right to apply for Leave to Appeal.

    The Grounds for Appeal were that:

    The facts were found against the weight of evidence

    New evidence was available.

    Application was granted.

    The registrant was offered 2x time extensions by the Panel to submit further evidence. In July 2019 the Panel had not received further communication from the registrant.

    Appeal Decision

    The Appeals Panel conclude that:

    • The Assessment Panel’s decision was not made against the weight of evidence
    • No new evidence had been received.

    The Appeal was therefore not upheld.

    Overview Summary

    The Appeals Panel re-considered the sanctions previously imposed by the Assessment Panel.

    The Appellant had stated that he would return to practice early in 2019. As at July 2019 the Panel were aware that the registrant had an active website soliciting clients and an active Counselling Directory listing

    The sanctions issued by the Assessment Panel were amended as follows:

    Conditional Membership Sanction

    To maintain his registered status, the Registrant must: Within one month of the date of receiving the decision supply:

    • Evidence of current Supervision (copy of contract and supervisor qualifications)

    • Insurance certificate

    • A substantial and satisfactory written statement (minimum 2500 words) to demonstrate reflection and learning in relation to this complaint.

    Entitled “An account of my reflection and learning in relation to this complaint and its outcome” specifically addressing the following subjects:

    • The importance of clear and appropriate contracting in counselling
    • The value of clinical supervision in counselling
    • How inappropriate communication with clients outside sessions can damage the therapeutic relationship

    It must also reference to at least 3 relevant books, journal articles or online resources, as well as the NCS Code of Ethical Practice

    Following 6 months practice:

    Registrant must provide a report from his Supervisor, evidencing that he has fully understood and put into practice reflective learning from issues relating to:

    • Importance of and proper use of supervision
    • Relevance of guidance learning issued by complaints panels for the NCS Registrant’s understanding of the client/therapist relationship

    This decision of the Appeals Panel is final and will be published on the NCS website.

  • Matthew Coe

    NCS19-08489

    Outcome: Voluntary Removal from Register 19th April 2021

    Outline of complaint

    The complaint focussed on a planned therapeutic session whereby Matt Coe changed the nature of the therapeutic session to the detriment of his client. The complaint also focussed on the communications between Matt Coe and his then client following the session.

    Assessment Panel Findings

    The Assessment Panel found that Matt Coe had committed the following breaches of the NCS Code of Ethics.

    Delivering a Service section, paragraph 3 “Refrain from using their position of trust and confidence to:

    1. Cross the boundaries appropriate to the therapeutic relationship.”

    Delivering a Service section, paragraph 1. “Work in ways that promote client autonomy and well-being and that maintain respect and dignity for the client”.

    Delivering a Service section, paragraph 7 “Remain aware of their own limitations and wherever appropriate, be prepared to refer a client to another practitioner or medical adviser who might be expected to offer suitable treatment.”

    Fundamental Principle 3. “Respect for the dignity and rights of the client (Autonomy)”

    Fundamental Principle 2. Being trustworthy and responsible…..which requires registrants to “ act in a respectful, professional and ethical manner when representing their profession”.

    Fundamental Principle 1 “Working towards the good of clients and doing no harm (Beneficence and Non-maleficence) Practitioners hold the welfare of clients central to their work and so commit to avoiding harm”.

    Assessment Panel Decision

    The Assessment Panel found that there may have been serious and substantive breaches of the Code of Ethics such that the registrant could be removed from the Society’s Accredited Register. The Assessment Panel decided that the case would be referred to the Independent Complaints Panel. The Assessment Panel also offered Matt Coe the option of agreeing to Voluntary Removal from Register thus saving the emotional stress of a hearing for both parties whilst still providing protection to the public.

    Matt Coe admitted to the Breaches of the Code of Ethics as set out by the Assessment Panel Findings and has agreed to be Removed from the NCS Accredited Register.

  • Jon Pierre Dubois

    Assessment Panel December 2022

    Outcome: Removal From Membership

    In September and October 2021, the National Counselling Society received 3 formal complaints relating to Non-registrant Member, Jon-Pierre Dubois and the counselling he had provided. During the investigation period, it was noted that the non-registrant member was advertising his services on a public directory whilst declaring his membership of NCS- in contravention of the signed terms and conditions submitted by the member. During the course of enquiries into the complaints, the Professional Conduct Officer requested copies of Insurance and evidence of CPD which the non-registrant member did not provide. In addition, the non-registrant member declined to provide the name of a Supervisor.

    Findings:

    Terms and Conditions of Membership

    The Panel finds that the member is in breach of the following Terms and Conditions of Membership:

    • Failure to provide evidence of supervision as part of a complaints process

    • Failure to provide evidence of insurance as part of a complaints process audit

    • Failure to provide evidence of CPD as part of a complaints process audit

    • Utilizing non-registrant membership of the Society in advertising with a public directory in contravention of the signed T&C submitted by the member

    • Practising counselling using an online only qualification deemed insufficient for safe, competent and ethical practice by the Society

    Complaints

    The three complaints received allude to multiple alleged breaches of the Code of Ethics, including but not limited to:

    • Breaches of confidentiality (Code of Ethical Practice: Confidentiality, Maintenance of Records and Recording of Sessions section)

    • Inappropriate and unboundaried therapy (Code of Ethical Practice: Delivering a Service section 3)

    • Failure to respect client autonomy (Code of Ethical Practice: Fundamental Principle 3)

    • Failure to act in respect of client welfare (Code of Ethical Practice: Fundamental Principle 1)

    The Assessment Panel found the evidence presented was extensive and detailed and included text messages in addition to allegations concerning what was said during sessions. The text messages demonstrate that it is likely the member was aware of the boundary and transference issues mentioned in the allegations.

    The Assessment Panel noted that the member’s refutation of the complaints rested primarily on a claim that the allegations are simply untrue.

    The Panel took the view that a full Independent Complaints Panel hearing would be necessary to deal appropriately with these complaints should consensual disposal not be accepted.

    The Panel took into account three main factors:

    • Non cooperation with complaints

    • Violation of T&C in advertising

    • The substantive nature of the client complaints

    The Panel’s decision was that membership should be terminated forthwith.

    Consensual disposal

    The member was offered admission of the above findings and voluntary removal from Society membership.

    Jon-Pierre Dubois did not respond to the findings and therefore is removed from the membership.

  • Alison Hill

    AH00P18

    Outcome of Complaints:

    Voluntary Removal from Register 5th August 2021

    Outline of Complaints:

    In April 2021, the NCS received a complaint regarding Alison Hill and there was sufficient evidence for the case to be progressed to Assessment Panel. The complaint centres on the fact that the Registrant began a therapeutic relationship with a client but failed to provide boundaries. The Registrant shared, unsolicited, intimate details of her own life and personal problems and it is demonstrated she corresponded with the complainant in a manner more akin to personal friendship as opposed to the therapy the client was paying for. This caused significant distress to the client. In addition, it was evidenced that Alison Hill attempted to pursue a business venture with the client.

    In May 2021, The NCS received a second complaint relating to a historic therapeutic relationship which concluded in 2018. There was evidence that the Registrant attempted to embark on a business venture with the client after building a friendship into their therapeutic relationship. The Complainant, having had time to reflect on the therapy they received, felt aggrieved and distressed that professional boundaries had been crossed in such a way.

    Assessment Panel Findings:

    The Assessment Panel found that Alison Hill had committed the following breaches of the NCS Code of Ethics:

    Regarding Complaint 1:

    Fundamental Principles

    Working towards the good of clients and doing no harm (Beneficence and Non-maleficence) Practitioners hold the welfare of clients central to their work and so commit to avoiding harm.

    And

    Being trustworthy and responsible (Fidelity)

    Practitioners …….act in a respectful, professional and ethical manner when representing their profession.

    And

    Integrity and self-responsibility

    Practitioners work to be as honest, truthful and accurate as possible. They are also responsible for looking after their own needs and health. So, a practitioner will only commit to a practice that they can offer being aware of own expertise, training, health and wellbeing and let the client know if anything changes.

    Delivering a Service

    All Practitioners undertake to:

    1. Work in ways that promote client autonomy and well-being and that maintain respect and dignity for the client.

    3. Refrain from using their position of trust and confidence to:

    a. Cross the boundaries appropriate to the therapeutic relationship.

    5. Should any relationship (i.e. any enduring personal or professional connection other than the clinical relationship between client and therapist) occur or develop between either counsellor and client……….the therapist should consult their supervisor at the earliest opportunity.

    7. Remain aware of their own limitations and wherever appropriate, be prepared to refer a client to another practitioner or medical adviser who might be expected to offer suitable treatment.

    General Conduct

    All Practitioners undertake to:

    1. Conduct themselves at all times in accord with their professional status and in such a way as neither undermines public confidence in the process or profession of counselling, nor brings it into disrepute, being aware of professional and personal boundaries.

    6. Ensure that they maintain the highest level of communication with clients (avoiding abbreviation and shorthand) whether by telephone; email; text or any other social media messaging service. See (Appendix C)

    Appendix C: Communications and Social Media

    However, before providing counselling or advice/suggestions via any online platform/text messaging/email the practitioner should have considerations in place to deal with the following:

    • Crisis prevention planning and frequency of contact etc. along with practical matters such as charge structure within the original contract.

    • The danger that a client may believe he or she has 24-hour accessibility to the therapist.

    • The potential for a lack of time for reflection on either party before responding to each other.

    • Awareness of potential professional and personal overlap by the careful and restrained use of social media such as Twitter, Facebook etc.

    Regarding Complaint 2:

    Delivering a Service

    All Practitioners undertake to:

    3. Refrain from using their position of trust and confidence to:

    a. Cross the boundaries appropriate to the therapeutic relationship.

    5. Should any relationship (i.e. any enduring personal or professional connection other than the clinical relationship between client and therapist) occur or develop between either counsellor and client……….the therapist should consult their supervisor at the earliest opportunity.

    Assessment Panel Decision

    The Assessment Panel stated that the Registrant’s conduct during and after her work with Complainant 1 and her apparent lack of insight or concern about its potential consequences,  suggests that the Registrant poses a serious risk to the public and to the profession. They also considered that Complaint 2 suggests that there may be a pattern of behaviour on her part where the maintenance of appropriate boundaries with clients is concerned.


    The Assessment Panel found that there were serious and substantive breaches of the Code of Ethics such that the Registrant could be removed for the Society’s Accredited Register. The Assessment Panel decided that the case would be referred to the Independent Complaints Panel. The Assessment Panel also offered Alison Hill the option of agreeing to Voluntary Removal from the Register thus saving the emotional stress of a hearing for both parties whilst still providing protection to the public.

    Alison Hill admitted to the Breaches of the Code of Ethics as set out by the Assessment Panel Findings and has agreed to be removed from the NCS Accredited Register.

  • Mark Parker

    NCS18-06895

    Assessment Panel Findings 04th April 2023

    Outcome of Complaint

    Voluntary Removal from Accredited Register on 12th April 2023


    Outline of Complaint

    A formal complaint was raised against Mark Parker, a Registrant of the Society, ‘the Registrant’ on 09/11/2022. In view of the serious nature of the allegations made by the Complainant, the Society’s PCO sought an interim suspension order and this was ratified by the Assessment Panel Chair on 25/11/2022.

    The Complainant states that she was admitted to a private clinic for help with her mental health and increasing reliance on alcohol where she stayed for a period of 8 weeks. She then continued with day care twice a week for several months after this. Her main therapist was the Registrant, and he conducted all her 1:1 therapy sessions whilst she was an inpatient. In addition, the Registrant provided 1:1 sessions privately at his clinic.

    The Complainant states that she shared with the Registrant that she had developed a crush. Rather than deal with her feelings in a professional and ethical manner, the Registrant, “completely ran with it”.

    The evidence provided by the Complainant included extensive text messages between the Complainant and the Registrant evidencing all elements of the complaint.

    Registrant’s response

    The following allegations made by the Complainant are admitted by the Registrant in his written responses:

    • “Intimacy” took place between the Registrant and Complainant on a number of occasions.
    • The Registrant and Complainant spent “many hours” on the phone together outside sessions.
    • The Registrant did join the Complainant in drinking alcohol.
    • **Redacted **
    • The Registrant did express negative views about other therapists to the Complainant.

    Findings

    The Assessment Panel considered the evidence carefully, and members provided the Chair with detailed notes which they had prepared for the purpose of the Panel’s assessment discussions. The Panel agreed that the Registrant had engaged in extensive communication with the Complainant outside therapy sessions in which he expressed personal needs and desires inappropriate to the conduct of ethically sound therapy. He allowed the relationship to become intimate and potentially destructive for the Complainant’s mental health and wellbeing. They further agreed that the Registrant was clearly aware that his behaviour was breaching the usual therapeutic boundaries and that he nevertheless, with this awareness, wilfully persisted in this behaviour over a significant period of time. He had also indulged in criticising and maligning other members of the profession.

    The Panel were satisfied that there was clear and unchallenged evidence of serious and multiple breaches of the following aspects of the NCS Code of Ethical Practice.

    Fundamental Principles:

    1. Working towards the good of clients and doing no harm

    2. Being trustworthy and responsible.

    5. Integrity and self-responsibility

    Delivering a Service

    1.Work in ways that promote client autonomy and well-being and that maintain respect and dignity for the client.

    3. Refrain from using their position of trust and confidence to a. cross the boundaries….

    10.Take all reasonable steps to ensure the safety of the client….

    11.Deliver counselling in an appropriate way.

    General Conduct

    1.Conduct themselves at all times in accord with their professional status…

    3.Never publicly criticise, malign or professionally obstruct another member of the profession.

    In the Panel’s view, the Registrant’s behaviour as evidenced and admitted is fundamentally incompatible with being a registered professional, his fitness to practise is severely impaired and there is a clear risk to public safety.

    Sanction

    The Panel agreed that the breaches of the Code of Ethics would be substantial enough to warrant removal from the Register should an Independent Complaints Panel make a finding that on the basis of the evidence, the Code was breached in this manner.

    Accordingly, the Panel believes that the appropriate offer to the Registrant is voluntary removal from the Register by way of Consensual Disposal.

    Outcome

    On 12th April 2023, Mark Parker, the Registrant, admitted the breaches of the National Counselling Society Code of Ethics as presented to him in the Assessment Panel Findings Report. The Registrant agreed to being removed from the Register by way of Consensual Disposal thus avoiding the emotional stress of a hearing for both parties whilst providing protection to the public.

  • Nikki White

    NCS13-00234

    Assessment Panel: December 2019

    Outcome: non-compliance with Conditional Membership sanctions

    Outline of complaint:

    The complainant and registrant met through an online dating service. The complainant, the complainant’s family and ex-partner all were offered individual therapy services by the registrant.

    The panel considered extracts from single source social media messages between the complainant and registrant. These contained detail of private and social matters as well as professional therapy arrangements.

    It was noted that the therapy service itself was viewed favourably by parties to the complaint and that the registrant offers a wide range of therapeutic services. Cleansing Therapy was referred to by the panel as an additional service, appearing to be a physical rather than a therapeutic therapy.

    Overview

    In line with the 2018 NCS Code of Ethics and in accordance with the Society’s Complaints Procedures, the NCS Public Protection Officer referred the complaint to the complaint Assessment Panel to consider:

    • If the registrant had behaved in a manner which was in line with NCS requirements around Professional boundaries, conduct, communication and confidentiality.
    • If the registrant had complied with NCS supervision requirements.

    Assessment Panel

    Decision: Conditional Membership Sanctions

    The Panel outcome statement contains considered, collective concerns, with particular emphasis on the written statements received from the registrant in response to the complaint. Outcome decision includes an immediate action order with regard to supervision (no client work to be undertaken prior to this being in place) and learning and development conditions of membership to address professional conduct and self-awareness.

    Self-Awareness

    The Panel found that the registrant had displayed limited self-awareness around professional boundaries, dual relationships and the importance of having professional supervision in place.

    Professional Boundaries/Dual relationships

    The registrant stated in correspondence “I would like it noted please that X was not just a client. We had been on dates prior to me offering .. therapy and had become good friends before any therapy took place. This wasn’t a usual client/therapy relationship. I helped out as a friend.”

    Affectionate and emotive language was used throughout messaging evidence, with no clear professional boundary between personal and business communication.

    Contrary to the following NCS Code of Ethics:

    Fundamental principles:

    Being trustworthy and responsible (Fidelity)

    Practitioners endeavour to establish trust with their clients and the community in which they work. Therefore, practitioners not only honour the trust placed in them by their clients and the community but also act in a respectful, professional and ethical manner when representing their profession

    Delivering a Service

    All Practitioners undertake to:

    • (1) Work in ways that promote client autonomy and well-being and that maintain respect and dignity for the client.
    • (3) Refrain from using their position of trust and confidence to: Cross the boundaries appropriate to the therapeutic relationship. This includes but is not limited to having sexual relationships with or behaving sexually towards clients, supervisees or trainees; maintaining the confidentiality of counselling as far as the law allows; or by exploiting them emotionally, financially or in any other way whatsoever.
    • (4) Decline with explanation, inappropriate gifts, gratuities or favours from a client. Examples include, but are not limited to financial gifts, event or discount vouchers, objects of substantial monetary value. The offering of any gift in therapy is an important event in the therapist-client relationship, and its implications should be discussed with the client and considered in supervision.
    • (5) Should any relationship (i.e. any enduring personal or professional connection other than the clinical relationship between client and therapist) occur or develop between either counsellor and client, or members of their respective immediate families, the therapist should consult their supervisor at the earliest opportunity. It is likely to be appropriate to cease accepting fees, work towards terminating the counselling relationship in an appropriate manner and arranging a carefully considered referral to another suitable therapist at the earliest opportunity.
    • (7) Remain aware of their own limitations and wherever appropriate, be prepared to refer a client to another practitioner or medical adviser who might be expected to offer suitable treatment.

    General Conduct

    All Practitioners undertake to:

    • (1) Conduct themselves at all times in accord with their professional status and in such a way as neither undermines public confidence in the process or profession of counselling, nor brings it into disrepute, being aware of professional and personal boundaries.

    Confidentiality

    The registrant discussed clients with clients (in writing). In the Panels view this offers a lack of awareness with regards to the essential requirement of client confidentiality.

    Contrary to:

    Confidentiality, Maintenance of Records and Recording of Sessions

    All Practitioners undertake to:

    (1) Maintain strict confidentiality within the client/counsellor relationship, always provided that such confidentiality is neither inconsistent with the therapist’s own safety or the safety of the client, the client’s family members or other members of the public, nor in contravention of any legal action (i.e. criminal, coroner or civil court cases where a court order is made demanding disclosure) or legal requirement

    General Conduct

    All Practitioners undertake to:

    • (5) Ensure that they maintain the highest level of communication with clients (avoiding abbreviation and shorthand) whether by telephone; email; text or any other social media messaging service (Facebook; WhatsApp). See (Appendix C)

    Appendix C: Communications and Social Media

    Before providing counselling or advice/suggestions via any online platform/text messaging/email the practitioner should have considerations in place to deal with the following:

    • The danger that a client may believe he or she has 24-hour accessibility to the therapist.
    • The potential for a lack of time for reflection on either party before responding to each other.
    • Awareness of potential professional and personal overlap by the careful and restrained use of social media such as Twitter, Facebook etc.
    • When using Facebook or other social media platforms, personal accounts must be kept private from public viewing by making use of privacy levels according to the specific social media platform. Additional and separate user accounts for professional purposes and use, should be used.

    Supervision

    The registrant provided no evidence to the NCS about her Supervision, despite repeated requests having been made.

    In the view of the Panel a qualified supervisor would likely have ‘nipped in the bud’ all of the concerns noted.

    The panel considered the registrant’s statement “I have not taken this to Supervision as yet, however I have spoken to my peers in my peer support group. These peers are highly qualified, successful and professional therapists….”

    (It is noted that this arrangement is not accepted as adequate supervision under the NCS Code of Ethics).

    Contrary to:

    supervision, all practitioners undertake to:

    • (1) Have formal one to one supervision in place and obtained from a properly qualified and trained supervisor. Attendance should be commensurate with practice hours.
    • (2) Ensure that clients with presenting issues outside of a practitioner's scope of ability, are discussed in supervision and where appropriate referred to another practitioner.
    • (3) Ensure a written contract is provided from the supervisor.
    • (5) Not engage in any dual relationship when seeking supervision. Examples of dual relationship can be found in the members area of the website.

    Contrary to: Society Terms and Conditions of Membership:

    Conditions of Registration:

    • · “I have supervision appropriate to the amount of clients that I am seeing”
    • “I monitor my safety to practice at a level that enables me to provide an effective service and seek advice from my supervisor if there are any health or personal circumstances which could impair my effectiveness”

    Contrary to: Society Membership guidance:

    …It is important that the Supervisor is properly qualified.

    Peer and group supervision is acceptable, in addition to formal one-to-one supervision (not in place of), and is dependent upon your own level of experience and the client group you are working with…

    DECISION: Fitness to practise sanctions

    The registrant must provide evidence of the following:

    Supervision:

    • · Registrant to immediately engage a suitably qualified and experienced Supervisor and must not see clients until this is in place. To notify NCS once a contract has been agreed.
    • · The Supervisor must provide a comprehensive fitness to practise report to the NCS after 12 months of working with the registrant.

    Reflective Report:

    • Registrant to produce a Reflective Report. This should be received by the NCS on a date that falls after 3 months and prior to 9 months from receipt of the Panel’s decision.
    1. The report must be over 2000 words.
    2. It should demonstrate understanding of the following: Professional Boundaries, Dual Relationships, why Supervision is essential and learning through supervision (upon having explored this complaint outcome with a new supervisor).

    CPD:

    • Registrant to complete the NCS Code of Ethics CPD within 3 months of receipt of this outcome.
    • Registrant to complete a CPD training on the topic of professional boundaries, within 6 months of receipt of this outcome

    Personal Therapy:

    • Registrant to attend a minimum of 6x sessions of Personal Therapy to explore her awareness and wellbeing in relation to the compliant. Personal learning and insight gained should be included in the reflective report.

    OUTCOME

    Upon receipt of the Panel Outcome report, the registrant contacted the NCS to resign her membership and declared a refusal to engage in further contact with the Society. As an immediate action Sanction had been ordered by the Panel, the Registrant was therefore not compliant with conditions of membership.

  • Shirley Rundle

    NCS18-06741

    Assessment Panel Date: 30/10/2023

    Outcome: Conditions On Membership

    Outline of Complaint:

    A complaint was raised by a former client in relation to their concerns about data protection following incorrect invoicing.

    Assessment Panel Findings:

    The findings concluded that unfortunate mistakes had been made by the Registrant and that the complainant had good reason to be concerned about what happened. While there was no identified breach of Data Protection legislation the Assessment Panel found that minor breaches of the following parts of the NCPS Code of Ethical Practice had occurred, and that in the Panel’s view, the Registrant had on this occasion failed to observe these requirements:

    Confidentiality, Maintenance of Records and Recording of Sessions

    4 Ensure client records are appropriate, accurate, relevant lawful and secure….

    General Conduct

    6. Ensure that they maintain the highest level of communication with clients…

    Mitigation

    The Assessment Panel accepted that the circumstances surrounding this case, involving a recent family bereavement, mean that the Registrant’s admitted errors are understandable and not necessarily representative of her usual practice.

    Sanctions

    The Panel concluded that on balance the breaches of the Code were not serious enough to warrant suspension or removal from the Register. They agreed that in the interests of public protection, continued registration should be subject to a condition.

    Consensual Disposal

    The Panel offers the Registrant Consensual Disposal of the above via:

    1) Admitting the breaches of the Code as set out above and

    2) Providing, within one month of the date of accepting Consensual Disposal, a written apology to the Complainant to the satisfaction of the Society should the Complainant indicate that this would be welcomed and

    3) Undertaking the following sanction which constitutes a condition on registration

    Produce a written report to the satisfaction of the Society, supported by her supervisor, of no fewer than 2000 words, in which she accounts for and clarifies the mistakes in this case as notified to her and what learning she has taken from this experience.

    In particular, the Panel is seeking evidence of learning and development of practice in respect of the efficient administration of communication with clients and other agencies and the management of invoicing.

    This report is to be submitted no earlier than three months and no later than four months from the date of accepting Consensual Disposal.

    The Registrant accepted the Assessment Panel findings and offer of Consensual Disposal.

  • Gill Dawson

    NCS19-08656

    Outcome of Complaint:

    Conditions on Membership

    Outline of Complaint

    In May 2023 the NCPS received a complaint and evidence that the Registrant Gill Dawson had allegedly breached the Code of Ethics. The complaint relates to a relatively short therapeutic relationship that came to an abrupt ending instigated by the Registrant.

    Summary of Allegations

    The Complainant alleged a lack of appropriate professional boundaries regarding the modality and frequency of her contact with the Registrant via WhatsApp.

    The complaint alleged that the nature of what the Registrant disclosed to her about the Complainant’s impact and potential impact on her wellbeing, personal life and conversations with her supervisor demonstrated a further lack of boundaries.

    She alleged that the Registrant’s conduct was “unethical, unprofessional and damaging” and presented 11 specific issues in evidence. These included an assertion that the Registrant brought the therapeutic relationship to an abrupt and inappropriate end, outside of session, with significant consequences for the Complainant’s wellbeing.

    Summary of Evidence and Findings

    Both parties submitted lengthy and detailed written submissions. In addition, a number of examples of online communications between the parties were available to the Panel, together with a supervisor’s report.

    After careful consideration and discussion, the Panel concluded as follows.

    Issue 1 Not taking a history of the Complainant’s previous trauma

    The Complainant stated that the Registrant “suggested that I didn’t need to give a history of my trauma”. This was not contested.

    In respect of Issue 1, the complaint was upheld. The Panel were satisfied there had been a breach of the following section(s) of the NCPS Code of Ethical Practice:

    Fundamental Principle 1. Working towards the good of clients and doing no harm (Beneficence and Non-maleficence)

    The Panel accepted that the Registrant attempted to work towards the good of the Complainant and did not intend to cause harm. She did not, however, in the Panel’s view, exercise appropriate caution and risk assessment in gathering information and choosing a safe way of working and ending.

    Fundamental Principle 5. Integrity and self-responsibility

    The Panel accepted that the Registrant attempted, belatedly, to look after her own needs and health. She committed, however, to an unconventional way of working with this client which in the Panel’s view was likely to have been beyond her expertise, training, health and wellbeing. The Panel believed this could reasonably have been foreseen.

    Issue 2 ‘Special’ treatment and work via Whatsapp messages outside of sessions

    The Complainant stated that the Registrant suggested an approach that she described as “working relationally”, which for her appeared to involve a particularly high degree of self-disclosure on the part of the therapist. This was not contested.

    In respect of Issue 2, the complaint was upheld. The Panel were satisfied there had been a breach of the following section(s) of the NCPS Code of Ethical Practice:

    Fundamental Principle 1. Working towards the good of clients and doing no harm (Beneficence and Non-maleficence)

    The Registrant did not in the Panel’s view, exercise appropriate caution and reasonably sound judgment in choosing and proposing a way of working likely to avoid the risk of harm.

    Delivering a service

    All Practitioners undertake to:

    3. Refrain from using their position of trust and confidence to:

    a. Cross the boundaries appropriate to the therapeutic relationship.

    11. Deliver counselling services in an appropriate way. (See Appendix C)

    General Conduct

    All Practitioners undertake to:

    Ensure that they maintain the highest level of communication with clients (avoiding abbreviation and shorthand) whether by telephone; email; text or any other social media messaging service. See (Appendix C)

    The Panel concluded that the Registrant crossed boundaries which most practitioners regardless of modality or experience consider necessary for client safety. Primarily this involved inviting and allowing potentially limitless contact via WhatsApp outside sessions. The Panel also noted that the Registrant’s WhatsApp messages often concluded with “Xs” and other emotionally suggestive language. In addition, both parties indicated that hugging had taken place in sessions, without any indication that this had been discussed and negotiated in advance.

    Issue 3 : Conduct around lending a book

    The Complainant asserted that being lent a particular book by the Registrant, and, later, being told that the Registrant did not wish her to return it, was dangerous. The lending of the book was not contested.

    In respect of Issue 3, the complaint was not upheld.

    The Panel considered both parties’ statements and concluded that while there may have been a lack of clear communication on the issue of the book, there was insufficient evidence of serious risk or harm for them to reach a conclusion.

    Issue 4 : Sending unwanted material

    The Complainant stated that the Registrant sent her, against her expressed wishes, a picture of a diagram representing a number of theoretical ideas about the Complainant’s psychological issues. The Complainant stated that she told the Registrant in session she did not want to look at it, yet the Registrant sent the image after the session. That the image was sent was not contested.

    in respect of Issue 4, the complaint was upheld.

    The Panel were satisfied there had been a breach of the following section(s) of the NCPS Code of Ethical Practice:

    Delivering a Service

    All Practitioners undertake to:

    1.Work in ways that promote client autonomy and well-being and that maintain respect and dignity for the client.

    The Panel concluded that there had been some unnecessary risk occasioned by the Registrant’s subsequently admitted mistake, and that without seeing the picture in question it was not appropriate for them to comment further. They noted the Registrant’s admission and apology.

    The Panel accepted that on the balance of probability the picture had been sent against the Complainant’s expressed wishes, and in this sense her autonomy was not respected.

    Issue 5: Telling the Complainant about the Registrant’s supervisor’s opinion of her (the Complainant).

    The Complainant stated that the Registrant told her in a session about a negative comment made in supervision about the Complainant and that this suggested a lack of attention to appropriate boundaries. It was not contested that the remark was made.

    In respect of Issue 5, the complaint was upheld. The Panel were satisfied there had been a breach of the following section(s) of the NCPS Code of Ethical Practice:

    Delivering a Service

    All Practitioners undertake to:

    1.Work in ways that promote client autonomy and well-being and that maintain respect and dignity for the client.

    The Panel concluded that an admitted mistake had been made concerning the remark made in supervision, which could give rise to anxiety regarding appropriate boundaries. They noted the Registrant’s admission and apology. The Panel accepted that by sharing the remark made in supervision the Registrant failed to maintain respect and dignity for the client.

    Issue 6: Telling the Complainant that the Registrant and her supervisor were “monitoring me closely” for Borderline Personality Disorder

    The Complainant stated that the Registrant suggested to her that she “might have BPD” (Borderline Personality Disorder) and that this was inappropriate given that the Registrant is not qualified to diagnose. This was contested.

    In respect of Issue 6, the complaint was not upheld.

    The Panel examined the evidence provided and found that although there had been a suggestion by the Registrant that “PD’s” might be “something we need to discuss”, there was no evidence of an explicit suggestion about “BPD”.

    Issue 7: Telling the Complainant that she had had a negative effect on the Registrant’s personal life

    The Complainant stated that during the course of a WhatsApp message exchange the Registrant disclosed that Complainant had ‘sadly interrupted’ her day out with her husband. This was not contested.

    In respect of Issue 7, the complaint was upheld.

    The Panel were satisfied there had been a breach of the following section(s) of the NCPS Code of Ethical Practice:

    Fundamental Principles

    1. Working towards the good of clients and doing no harm (Beneficence and Non-maleficence)

    Practitioners hold the welfare of clients central to their work and so commit to avoiding harm

    The Panel concluded that the sharing of information with the Complainant about the effect of their communication on her personal life was inappropriate and likely to give rise to anxiety regarding appropriate boundaries.

    Issue 8: Shifting the boundaries on contact abruptly and remotely

    The Complainant stated that the Registrant’s attempts to establish clearer boundaries around contact outside sessions were abrupt and caused her further distress. This was contested.

    In respect of Issue 8, the complaint was upheld.

    The Panel were satisfied there had been a breach of the following section(s) of the NCPS Code of Ethical Practice:

    Delivering a Service

    All Practitioners undertake to:

    1.Work in ways that promote client autonomy and well-being and that maintain respect and dignity for the client

    The Panel took into account that there was an attempt by both parties to negotiate a new agreement and that the situation had become confused and distressing for both of them. They were nevertheless satisfied that it was primarily the Registrant’s responsibility to manage the renegotiation in a safe and constructive way, and that her attempts to do so seemed hasty and inept. The Panel noted that there was one session available before her holiday, and they were not persuaded that the fact that the Complainant had, apparently, previously asked to use that session for something else was sufficient justification for not seeking to use that session for what had become a matter of high importance.

    The Panel agreed that the Registrant’s attempts to change the boundaries in the way that she did failed to promote the Complainant’s autonomy and well-being.

    Issue 9: Gaslighting and pathologising the Complainant after acting or speaking inappropriately.

    The Complainant stated that the Registrant, albeit unconsciously, sought to provoke her into difficult behaviour symptomatic of, for example, Borderline Personality Disorder so that the Complainant would leave therapy. This was contested.

    In respect of Issue 9, the complaint was not upheld.

    The Panel, while they had concerns about aspects of the Registrant’s conduct of the therapy, could not find sufficient evidence of any intent, unconscious or otherwise, to provoke or pathologise the Complainant.

    Issue 10: Attempting to stop working with the Complainant indirectly.

    The Complainant alleges that the Registrant had decided to stop working with her but was attempting to avoid saying so. This was contested.

    In respect of Issue 10, the complaint is upheld.

    The Panel were satisfied there had been a breach of the following section(s) of the NCPS Code of Ethical Practice:

    Delivering a Service

    All Practitioners undertake to:

    1.Work in ways that promote client autonomy and well-being and that maintain respect and dignity for the client

    The Panel took account of the Registrant’s email of 27th March 2023 and accepted that at that point she believed there was still a possibility of continued work. They nevertheless took the view that the apparently sudden claim that they were still in an assessment period, a belated attempt to introduce a 6-week review and a suggestion of referral to another therapist were very likely to give the impression of an intent to draw the therapy to a close, especially when done online. There was one session available before the Registrant’s holiday, and seeking to address what had become a crucial issue face to face was in the Panel’s view still an option.

    Issue 11 : Refusing a goodbye session and telling the Complainant to never contact the Registrant again

    The Complainant asserted that, having decided that having an ending session immediately before her holiday was not safe, the Registrant should have offered her an ending session after her return from holiday and that she refused to do so. She states that following a further exchange of emails, the registrant told her not to contact her again. This was contested.

    In respect of Issue 11, the complaint was upheld.

    The Panel were satisfied there had been a breach of the following section(s) of the NCPS Code of Ethical Practice:

    Fundamental Principles

    1. Working towards the good of clients and doing no harm (Beneficence and Non-maleficence)

    3. Respect for the dignity and rights of the client (Autonomy)

    The Panel found that, by this stage, communications between the parties had become complex and fraught with risk of misunderstanding. Resolution by any means other than a face to face meeting had probably become impossible. It is admitted, however that the Registrant did say to the Complainant in an email: “Our work is now concluded. Please make no further contact with me from this point”. The Panel were satisfied that this effectively constitutes a refusal of an ending session.

    The Panel concluded that this communication, albeit made under pressure, risked causing harm to the Complainant and failed to respect her dignity and rights.

    Sanctions

    The Panel were significantly concerned to consider whether recommending suspension or removal from the Register might be appropriate. After careful consideration and taking into account the apologies and suggestions for improvement offered by the Registrant, the Panel concluded that the risk of repetition of her behaviour was sufficiently reduced to make suspension or removal unnecessary. The need for Sanctions in the form of Conditions for continued Registration was agreed.

    The Panel offered the Registrant Consensual Disposal via:

    1) Admitting the breaches of the Code as set out above and

    2) Providing, within one month of the date of accepting Consensual Disposal, a written apology to the Complainant to the satisfaction of the Society and

    3) Undertaking the following sanctions which constitute a condition on registration

    i. Undertaking additional training to the satisfaction of the Society in the following subjects:

    • Ethics in Counselling and Psychotherapy

    • Professional Boundaries.

    • Trauma informed counselling/psychotherapy

    and providing evidence to the satisfaction of the Society of completion of said training within six months of the date of accepting Consensual Disposal.

    ii. Engaging a UK based supervisor and, for a minimum period of three months, having individual face-to-face in-the-room supervision of no fewer than 3 hours per month focused in part on her learning from her work with the Complainant and its subsequent application, and providing evidence to the satisfaction of the Society that such supervision has taken place.

    iii. Produce a written report to, supported by her UK based supervisor, of no fewer than 2500 words in which she accounts for and clarifies the mistakes in this case as notified to her and what learning she has taken from this experience, additional training and supervision.

    In particular, the Panel is seeking evidence of learning and development of practice in respect of:

    • A Relational approach to talking therapy, its advantages and risks.

    • The importance of clear and consistent boundaries where the conduct and management of sessions is concerned.

    • Assessment of new clients in terms of their complexity and vulnerability.

    This report is to be submitted no earlier than six months and no later than nine months from the date of accepting Consensual Disposal.

    The Registrant accepted the Assessment Panel findings and offer of Consensual Disposal.

    The complainant exercised her right of Appeal. The outcome remained unchanged.

  • Publication Policy for Registrants

    The Society’s complaints procedures seek to be open, transparent and proportionate. Sanctions issued by either the Assessment Panel or by the Independent Complaints Panel following a complaints hearing will be published on the Society’s website.

    Should a Registrant be issued an Interim Suspension Order (ISO) during a complaint investigation the ISO will appear as an annotation on the Registrant’s Public Register entry. In addition, their name and date of issue of ISO will be placed on the Professional Conduct Notices section of the Society’s website.

    The publication of such decisions provides information about the standards expected of Registrants; assists clients to make informed choices and helps to maintain public confidence in the Accredited Register programme.

    We aim to strike a balance and consider the rights of both clients and Registrants and take account of the risk of any harm that may arise from the disclosure or non-disclosure of information.

    Details of sanctions will appear as an annotation to a Registrant’s online register entry. In addition, an outline of the case will be placed on the website's ‘Professional Conduct Notices’ section. A note of the complaint will be added to the member’s file.

    Upon sanction completion, the Society will change the online register entry to reflect that the sanction has been met. The Society will display the “Sanction Met” annotation and the outline of the case under the Outcome of Complaints section for a further period of 6 months after completion of the sanction. The Registrant’s file will be updated.

    If a sanction is not met, the Society will change the online register entry to “Sanction Not Met” and information on the Professional Conduct Notices page will be published on the Society website for a period of five years.

    In cases where a Registrant is removed from the Register, or accepts Voluntary Removal following a panel hearing, the published decision will remain on the website for a period of five years.

    If there is no sanction, then no information will be published on the Society’s website.

  • Publication Policy for Non-Registrant Members

    The Society’s complaints procedures seek to be open, transparent and proportionate. Sanctions issued by either the Assessment Panel or by the Independent Complaints Panel following a complaints hearing will be published on the Society’s website.

    Should a member be issued an Interim Suspension Order (ISO) during a complaint investigation the ISO the Non-Registrant member 's name and date of issue of ISO will be placed on the Professional Conduct Notices section of the Society’s website.

    The publication of such decisions provides information about the standards expected of members; assists clients to make informed choices and helps to maintain public confidence in The Society.

    We aim to strike a balance and consider the rights of both clients and members and take account of the risk of any harm that may arise from the disclosure or non-disclosure of information.

    Details of sanctions will appear as an outline of the case and will be placed on the ‘Professional Conduct Notices’ section of the website. A note of the complaint will be added to the member’s file.

    Upon completion of the sanction, the Society will change the entry on the Professional Conduct Notice page to reflect that the sanction has been met. The Society will display the “Sanction Met” on the outline of the case under the Outcomes of Complaints section for a further period of 6 months after completion of the sanction. The members’ file will be updated.

    If a sanction is not met, the Society will change the information on the Professional Conduct Notices page to reflect that “Sanction Not Met”. This will be published on the Society website for a period of five years.

    In cases where a member is removed from the Society membership or accepts Voluntary Removal following a panel hearing, the published decision will remain on the website for a period of five years.

    If there is no sanction, then no information will be published on the Society’s website.


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