I have held off making any comment on the story that hit the news yesterday that
"Former Archbishop of Canterbury backs therapist In row on gay conversion".
I didn't know the facts and really wasn't sure what was going on. Of course a therapist should be struck off for offering gay conversion. But entrapment skews the issue. It wasn't clear whether the therapist offered and pursued or it was requested.
So this afternoon I dug through the reports over the last two years in the case, yes it's been going on that long.
In May last year this article included an interview with the man who was "seeking help" who stated that the therapist tried to find out what had gone wrong in his past to make him gay; said that homosexuality is both a mental illness, an addiction and an anti-religious phenomenon; and even more inappropriately asked him to pray for forgiveness and healing.
You might be surprised to hear I don't agree with advising someone to pray. I obviously believe in prayer, but in secular therapeutic relationships it is not appropriate to bring your own religious beliefs to a client. The therapist had in this point alone broken her professional standards.
Tracking the case back to February 2010 and more facts come to the fore. The initial article by the journalist, who worked under cover, makes for disturbing reading. This therapist, as well as the others mentioned, are trained, registered and employed to provide psychotherapeutic help for people with emotional and mental health concerns. In this role they must leave their own beliefs and prejudices aside. Never should they share their own lives, they are purely there for the good of the patient. Reading the accounts it is clear to me that this was not the case.
So how do I feel about senior church of England clerics supporting this therapist? I am appalled. Yes she was caught through entrapment, but she was wrong none the less. She could have set herself in the business of gay conversion (and been prosecuted) but she could not work as a counsellor and work in such an unprofessional and inappropriate manner.
She broke the BAPS code of conduct, she needs to be struck off the register until she can work professionally leaving her personal beliefs outside of the therapeutic relationship.