Addressing Common Complaints from Therapists
Therapists who have been through this process and who have reported negatively on the methodology employed by BACP, and also sometimes report unacceptable interpersonal behaviour on the part of certain individuals involved in the process leads to the following list of suggestions that would improve the whole system.
Members report just how shocked they are to find that an organisation they've been a member of for maybe years and have held an affection for has turned literally overnight in to a relentless prosecutor and how their treatment has included in their words 'bullying', 'sarcasm' clear bias in favour of complainants and restrictions on their human and civil rights.
These suggestions may well lead to a better result for all involved- an educative and improving experience facilitated through understanding and conversation rather than an adversarial 'trial' centrally represented by the prosection by the BACP of one of it's members.
1. On receipt of a complaint, a pre-hearing during which motives and backgrounds of indivduals involved may also be investigated. Facilitated by BACP and designed to establish any broader picture , such as previous complaints by the current complainant,mental health issues, and where possible to seek a rapproachment through mediation and understanding coupled with learning outcomes for all concerned. All parties should be invited to be present and made to understand the importance of the is meeting and any likely consequences of failure to attend. More serious cases can then be forwarded to the full process.But all cases should go through this 'screening ' process.
2. A shortening of the time during which a complaint can be made; in line with current legal measures,i.e. up to 6 months for complaints up to a certain level of seriousness (to be defined by agreement as ) and unlimited for more serious or, say, repeat allegations of a similar or serious nature.
3. A simple explanation of the process of complaints procedures to be written and issued, a quick guide to the more detailed documents and with references to it.
4. Skilled and demonstrably fair and even handed leaders of tribunals who are absolutely required to treat the defendant with respect and in compliance with current BACP guidelines regarding treartment of others, non judgementalism etc. Preferably trained and in possession of investigative skills-just being a senior academic does not make an amateur a skilled and proper conductor of hearings. A lay Magistrates bench might suggest an appropriate model as a suitable place to start for constituting an investigating panel.
5. A higher level of proof required, particulary in cases where membership and then potentially livelihood might be at risk. Beyond reasonable doubt must be substituted for 'the balance of probablities'- this experience shows, can lead to what amounts to an educated guess -very much open to accusations of bias-by an individual who is already only an amateur.
6. Proper cross examination allowed, not questions through the tribunal leader-this leads to possibilites of changes of nuance or meaning and to opporunities for the leader to add their own comments, thus frustrating, potentially, the aim of the questioner.
7. Longer time allowed for questioning. Proper proof required for statements, rules of submission of evidence to be applied as regards dislosure or submission of items and exhibits to the tribuna, pre-hearing disclosure to be required.
8. NO hearsay evidence or opinions to be taken into account. President of tribunal to keep any personal opinions to him/her self.
9. No individual to be confined to a room and forbidden to exit until called for by an escort. No prohibition on freedom of association. These requirements cannot of course be applied in law but are de facto taken as enforceable rules as no defenfdant wants to offend the individuals currently judging him/her. They can therefore be taken as assaults on personal liberty and human rights.
10. The right to resign on a matter of principle from the organisation in given circumstances, and not to have to wait to be expelled. Withdrawal of membership will of course remain an option for the organisation in certain, defined, circumstances,
11. Appeal to be to a totally independent organisation as the BACP, as curretnly configured, has no regulating authority, and to be valid, justice has to be seen to be done. Currently there appears to be no facility to complain about BACP as an organisation to an independent and higher authority. They can do what they like.
It is our intention that issues of complaints where appropriate and where possible should be dealt with in a way that all learn and move forwards, to encourage conciliation and to resolve confrontations.
From what is reported currently, the process is simply a prosecution with the BACP as prosecuting authority, examples of bullying are common, amateurs investigating what are potentially life changing and career ending matters finally balanced, effectively , on the educated guess of an untrained individual working on the lowest level of acceptable proof in English Civil Law-the Balance of Probabilties, it just isn't good enough.