Lesley Pilkington’s Appeal Fails

Quelle Surprise. John Bingham in the Telegraph has the news.

A conduct hearing last year ruled that Mrs Pilkington had fallen short of professional standards by making “premature and reckless” diagnoses.

An appeal panel yesterday threw out a number of adverse findings against Mrs Pilkington but found that she had failed to take enough steps to ensure that Mr Strudwick fully understood what her counselling entailed and “precise belief system that underpinned it”.

The appeal panel ruled that the controversial therapy itself did not necessarily breach professional standards but added: “There is a wide range of opinion and beliefs among those who call themselves Christians.

“Mrs Pilkington wrongly and negligently jumped to the conclusion that Mrs Strudwick properly understood her therapeutic model and the belief system underlying it.”

But Mrs Pilkington, who was supported by the Christian legal Centre and the barrister Paul Diamond, said that her case would have a chilling effect on others who wished to practice the technique.

“They simply won’t operate in this area at all, they won’t offer the possibility of change,” she said.

“Christians will think twice about using traditional biblical Christian counselling methods.

“It will definitely close people down, it will definitely engender a climate of fear.

“There is a wider agenda that diversity and equality, which is supposed to be what our society upholds, is upheld for everyone except for those who have traditional Judeo-Christian values, I think that is very disturbing.

“People need to understand what is happening and think about what sort of society we want.”

Andrea Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “People who practise reparative therapy are increasingly pushed out of the public sphere.

“A truly tolerant society would allow for this therapy to continue not to treat it with suspicion and those who practise it with suspicion.”

Now, you can read the ruling and appeal for yourself online and it’s worth doing so to cut through the spin from both sides. It’s very clear that:

  • BACP dismissed Strudwick’s initial intention of having LP banned for conducting Reparative Therapy. They weren’t really interested in arguments from either side on the validity or otherwise of this kind of counselling approach.
  • The real issue was, from BACP’s perspective, the way that LP exhibited very poor counselling practice by not keeping clear personal boundaries, letting sessions over-run and imposing interpretations on her client even when the client denied the events that the counsellor claimed had happened in the client’s life.
  • Neither side is willing to accept the above – the liberals seem to think that BACP ruled that Reparative Therapy was wrong (it didn’t) and the conservatives seem to think that LP was victimised for practising Reparative Therapy (she wasn’t).

Now, this paragraph coming up is not going to make me many friends, but it absolutely needs to be said. When you read the Christian Concern report on the appeal having read the full ruling from BACP, the impression you get is wilful blindness to the clear evidence that LP is not a good counsellor. It strikes me that conservatives need to be honest about this fact – once you get past the issues of whether Strudwick entrapped her (he did) and the legal issues as to whether he therefore should be treated as a client with a valid complaint (I don’t agree with BACP here), the reports of how LP conducted the session show basic disregard for the fundamentals of counselling practice. No wonder BACP deregistered her and insisted that she undergo further training before being readmitted to BACP.

Taking the Christian Concern stance towards the ruling is not the Christian way to approach this. As Christians we need to be honest about our failings and not try to cover them up. Most pastors know that this kind of behaviour (avoiding the truth and trying to blame someone else) is just an attempt to avoid our own sin and culpability. It’s not good spiritual discipline and it just damages our growth in grace.

There said it.

Please feel free to comment on the case below.

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