Fake Counsellors and Psychologists

Anything that does not fit into the above categories, but is related to psychology, including discussion of public and media perceptions of psychology, satire related to psychology, etc.
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Psyfer
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Fake Counsellors and Psychologists

Post by Psyfer »

Hi

I recently came across a fake counsellor https://thescottishpetbereavementcounsellingservice.com and it has made me really angry. I was then googling and looked up The Speakmans and got even more angry.

Is anyone doing anything about this? Seems like media shouldn't be helping these individuals promote themselves. Thoughts?
Fenella
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Re: Fake Counsellors and Psychologists

Post by Fenella »

There was a lot of discussion here viewtopic.php?f=12&t=13708&start=15

I think the issue is that most titles (counsellor/psychotherapist/psychologist etc) aren’t protected. So the pet bereavement lady isn’t technically doing anything wrong, I think? She doesn’t have many qualifications, but seems to have presented them honestly. I like the “how to improve your mental health certificate”!
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miriam
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Re: Fake Counsellors and Psychologists

Post by miriam »

Indeed, a hot topic for me, and one I've actively campaigned on for some time. You'll see I recently posted in the thread that Fenella linked above too.
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meem123
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Re: Fake Counsellors and Psychologists

Post by meem123 »

To be honest some of the best “therapy” I have ever received is from people that have been through similar experiences as myself. That’s why group therapy works so well, and AA meetings etc. You have to remember that “qualified” helping people with degrees are a relatively new concept in the grand scheme of things, they have only been around less than 50 years or so. In Nigeria there are grandmothers that go to schools and listen to teenagers talk about their problems - no qualifications, just a kind, listening ear. It’s reduced mental illness drastically. It’s easy to become indoctrinated with the medical model of mental distress, after years and years of academia being stuffed down our throats it’s no surprise we worship it so much 😆
Fenella
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Re: Fake Counsellors and Psychologists

Post by Fenella »

meem123 wrote: Sun Jan 02, 2022 8:43 pm To be honest some of the best “therapy” I have ever received is from people that have been through similar experiences as myself. That’s why group therapy works so well, and AA meetings etc. You have to remember that “qualified” helping people with degrees are a relatively new concept in the grand scheme of things, they have only been around less than 50 years or so. In Nigeria there are grandmothers that go to schools and listen to teenagers talk about their problems - no qualifications, just a kind, listening ear. It’s reduced mental illness drastically. It’s easy to become indoctrinated with the medical model of mental distress, after years and years of academia being stuffed down our throats it’s no surprise we worship it so much 😆
I agree, people can be good or bad in any role, and qualifications are neither a panacea nor the determining factor. That's not really the issue though - the problem is when someone has no qualifications or membership of a professional body, there's no way for them to be accountable. If you're a doctor who does harm and endangers patients' lives, you can be reported to the BMA and struck off so you can't practice any more. If you're an independent, unregistered counsellor who gives harmful advice and leaves people in a worse state than they started, who will supervise you or hold you to account? What can be done to stop you?

I'm a Samaritan (a voluntary role, requiring training but no formal qualifications) and even there they are very concerned with improving accountability and preventing harm. So it's not that you necessarily need qualifications to be in a "helping" role, but if you're having unsupervised contact with vulnerable people yet you're not answerable to anyone, that is a problem.
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Geishawife
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Re: Fake Counsellors and Psychologists

Post by Geishawife »

meem123 wrote: Sun Jan 02, 2022 8:43 pm To be honest some of the best “therapy” I have ever received is from people that have been through similar experiences as myself. That’s why group therapy works so well, and AA meetings etc. You have to remember that “qualified” helping people with degrees are a relatively new concept in the grand scheme of things, they have only been around less than 50 years or so. In Nigeria there are grandmothers that go to schools and listen to teenagers talk about their problems - no qualifications, just a kind, listening ear. It’s reduced mental illness drastically. It’s easy to become indoctrinated with the medical model of mental distress, after years and years of academia being stuffed down our throats it’s no surprise we worship it so much 😆
I think you've made some pretty sweeping statements there and have, as Fenella alludes to, very much missed the point of the discussion here. Nobody doubts the value of a "listening ear" and, in the right circumstances, that might be just what an indicidual needs. But you really do not seem to grasp the complexity of the issues people who present for therapy can demonstrate. For example, if all we offer people with complex trauma, extensive neurological issues or a history of sexual abuse is "a listening ear" do you honestly think that will be enough to help them? How about a teenager with an eating disorder? Or a family struggling to cope with an older relative with advanced dementia? For people with such complex needs and difficulties, being "treated" by someone who has no training, no idea of how to assess risk and no idea of how to manage severe and acute distress could be hugely damaging. THAT is the salient point here, not whether alternative approaches can work for some people.

I find your comments about being indoctrinated with the medical model and academia being"stuffed down our throats" quite offensive. It could be that you are unfamiliar with the practice of Clinical Psychology in the UK, but for the vast majority of CPs we do NOT adhere to the medical model and we do not just swallow academia without question or "worship" it. We work critically, scientifically and use our training to critically analyse what is out there and ensure we offer the best and most appropriate interventions for the people in our care. That is backed up by regular supervision so that we can "double check" we are acting in a safe and appropriate manner. That is what helps keep people safe and it is very worrying that vulnerable people can be exposed to "practitioners" without an ounce of training or supervision.

(By the way, I am aware that there are many therapists in practice who are not CPs but who still offer safe, effective, evidence based treatment. My refering only to CPs is because I'm one!)
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miriam
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Re: Fake Counsellors and Psychologists

Post by miriam »

Yup, well said Geishawife.

There is a big difference between someone offering to listen and informally advise (and perhaps be a peripheral positive attachment figure) and someone offering a therapeutic intervention. There are many conditions that require specialist assessment, recognition and advice. There are situations that require the protective interventions of statutory services (eg child protection, exploitation, abuse). There are others that can cause secondary traumatisation without supervision. When we compare informal "granny on a bench" support to mental health professionals there is a big difference in what types of issues it is likely to be helpful for, the knowledge and skill of the person offering the help, and - most importantly perhaps - the accountability if the advice is bad. I've recently been speaking to some survivors of an unqualified therapist who caused very serious harm. I've heard about "therapists" who are financially exploitative, emotionally abusive, have inappropriate sexual relationships with vulnerable individuals, even encourage them to make choices that cause catastrophic impact (eg to disengage from all family support; to disregard health professionals and medical treatments - even for life-threatening cancers; to enter or exit a relationship; to sell their home/sign over their assets/income and/or move into a restrictive community; to have plastic surgery; to take hallucinogens, drugs or medication that was not prescribed to them). I don't think you have any idea how vulnerable people can be, how explotative some individuals who pose as helpers or therapists can be (or the risk of harm even from people wiht good intentions who unwittingly give bad advice or misunderstand a situation). Nor do you appear to recognise how complex people's psychological needs can be if you post glib generalisations like that.
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meem123
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Re: Fake Counsellors and Psychologists

Post by meem123 »

I’m only speaking as someone who has suffered from Anorexia Nervosa and been through the NHS treatment pathway (impatient, and residential) for over 10 years. I’ve seen soooo many clinical psychologist over the years, thinking that was the “best” treatment because of their years of learning etc. I then got kicked out of NHS and had to find my own therapy. I could only afford a BACP counsellor, with a diploma. She was FANTASTIC. She worked from a person centred approach and treatment me like a human. 6 months later I felt completely different and whole again. I haven’t relapsed in over 4 years now. She was kind, listened to me, validated my feelings and I felt understood. The CP I saw just went on about “black and white thinking” and the “Ed voice” etc. it didn’t help one bit. I suppose my point is that being “accountable” or “trained” might help, but at the end of the day being a human being is more important.
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miriam
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Re: Fake Counsellors and Psychologists

Post by miriam »

I still think you are entirely missing the point. Nobody you have seen is a fake - a person who claims skills or qualification that they don't have, or that are meaningless. You saw a different branch of professional, with a different (but importantly still externally validated) training background and weaker/absent regulatory framework who had a greater quota of time to give and a more person-centred model - and you invested it with value by choosing and paying for it, which meant you had a different type of relationship with the therapist than the one you describe with NHS services. I'm glad that worked for you, and I think there is definitely a place for long-term person-centred work and that therapy always works better if you have a good relationship with the person you are working with. However, again, it isn't directly relevant to the content of this thread or the concerns about unregulated individuals delivering psychological therapy. The problem we are raising is not that there are no good examples of unregulated professionals - in fact every poster has been at pains to point out that there are many - the point is that when there are bad, harmful or dangerous individuals there is nothing that can be done to stop them continuing to offer their services (unless it reaches the threshold for a criminal conviction for abuse, and the physical constraints of prison or legal constraints of a harm protection order prevent them from doing the same again).
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Geishawife
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Re: Fake Counsellors and Psychologists

Post by Geishawife »

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-cumbria-45904875

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-gl ... t-46437141

Prime examples of what can happen to vulnerable people. And this was within a supposedly regulated profession! I shudder to think of the damage that has potentially been done within non-regulated professions that we never get to hear about.
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maven
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Re: Fake Counsellors and Psychologists

Post by maven »

That's one example of many. There are plenty of horrific examples. We've had survivors post on here about the harm done by Anna Auty, who ran a fake inpatient eating disorder service that nearly killed a child and involved emotional and even sexual harm (as well as financial exploitation by charing fees) of vulnerable adults.

A ten minute google search found:
1) https://www.lifecoach-directory.org.uk/ ... jane-kelly where a struck off clinical psychologist appears to be advertising herself as a "doctor of clinical psychology" to get around not being able to use "clinical psychologist", a claim also made on her current instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cotswoldcoach/ despite this finding in 2017: Daily Mail link, open at your own discretion
2) references to another struck off psychologist having a negative impact as an "expert" in a court case https://tgchambers.com/wp-content/uploa ... tfinal.pdf with commentary here: https://tgchambers.com/news-and-resourc ... c-1787-qb/ and here: https://plexuslaw.co.uk/hibbard-little- ... in-injury/ despite this finding: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-24780714 and losing this appeal: https://www.kingsleynapley.co.uk/insigh ... -994-admin
3) the struck off psychologist who got a job as psychology lead at a private hospital for older people: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/psyc ... -z0dn9gvjw

Note: I've no personal knowledge on which to judge whether those individuals can deliver any new roles they have taken on safely, but I'm assuming that if the HCPC found enough concern to strike them off permanently, the intention was to protect the public from them taking up a similar role again.

Also, some examples of fake experts in the court here: some fake experts doing court work: https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2007/feb ... me.uknews4 and http://www.locumtoday.co.uk/article.php ... -reference
Maven.

Wise men talk because they have something to say, fools because they have to say something - Plato
The fool thinks himself to be wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool - Shakespeare
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