Thursday, February 01, 2007

Why Psychotherapy Needs Regulating...

Apparently the Barefoot Doctor is in a bit of a pickle at the moment. Mr Barefoot is a self-styled guru who dispenses advice on health and well-being, via his website, various self-help books, newspaper columns (formerly for the Observer), TV appearances and his touring circus (sorry, that should read public appearances.) As far as I can ascertain he is a yoga-teacher with an incredible knack for making money (which, as any yoga-teacher will tell you, is actually quite a remarkable achievement.) I used to enjoy Mr Barefoot’s column in the Observer. His advice is sound and his Taoist approach to life is one that I mostly admire. The Observer reported on Sunday that the patient group Witness have received complaints against him for ‘making sexual overtures to patients in treatment.’ Mr Barefoot denies the claim, but admits to ‘sexual tensions’ with ex-patients and others whom he implies are ‘Barefoot groupies’ (my words, not yours, don’t sue.) He has made a statement on his website, disputing the claims but apologising for ‘salacious emails’. I can’t check it out because he has a ‘membership fee’ to enter the site which I am loathed to pay: I refer you back to his incredible knack for making money.

The Observer article went on to talk about the importance of regulation for ‘alternative therapies’, including counselling and psychotherapy. I have to say I am quite uncomfortable with psychotherapy being lumped in with crystal healing, meridian-tapping and aura-reading, and I think they should be treated as quite separate entities. I can see no great benefit to hippy-dippy therapies being more formally regulated: if people want to spend their hard-earned cash on the left-field end of alternative therapies, that is undoubtedly their right, and I don’t think these therapies create a patient-therapist relationship that requires sanctifying. But I do happen to think that the counselling and psychotherapy world requires government regulation, and that this should happen sooner rather than later. This is a matter very close to my heart, and one on which I have a selection of opinions, so I turned eagerly to page 24 for the Focus special: sex and betrayal in the consulting room.

The Focus special turned out to be a focus on medics, in particular gynaecologists and GPs who, let’s face it, have unparalleled opportunities to abuse their patients. Given that all of the professionals cited belong to an already well-regulated profession, the argument that we need urgent regulation to prevent psychotherapists from molesting their clients seemed to have lost its internal cohesion. So, in a spirit of public service I will give you the information that the Observer should have published, outlining why regulation for psychotherapists and counsellors is a Very Good Thing Indeed.

It is something of a misconception that the therapy industry is entirely unregulated. There are 2 main governing bodies, UKCP and BACP, both of which have stringent accreditation criteria. UKCP requires:

  • Minimum 900 hours of advanced training/supervision over a period of not less than 4 years
  • An appropriate psychiatric placement
  • Minimum 450 hours supervised clinical practice
  • Supervision at a ratio of 1 hour per 6 hours of client contact on no fewer than 450 client contact hours
  • A minimum of 40 hours of personal therapy for 4 years

And to maintain registration:

  • Evidence of Continuous Professional Development
  • Continued client contact (eg, if a therapist takes a year out of practice there are steps s/he must take to re-register before permitted to practice again)
  • A minimum of 8 supervision contacts a year

Both governing bodies have their own ethical codes that registered practitioners must abide by, and pay particular attention to the nature of the therapist/client relationship. Needless to say, sex is a no-no. In addition to this, most practising therapists/counsellors will also be members of their own modality’s professional body, which will have its own code of ethics and professional requirements. Technically, I can be taken to two different ethics boards for the same transgression.

So far, so tough. Except that registration with a governing body is optional, and indeed membership of your own professional body remains optional. Which means any Tom, Dick or Harriet can put a brass plaque on their door saying ‘Tea and Sympathy’ and they are good to go. It is currently incumbent upon the client to check out the practitioner’s professional credentials. And this is the really shocking part: in 10 years of practice I have been asked four times for my qualifications and registration details. Just four times: less than 1% of clients seen (and two of those were practising therapists who knew what they were asking for.)

I have no doubt that the government will make it a legal requirement for psychotherapists and counsellors to be a member of a regulatory body before they can practice, with exemptions for trainee therapists practising under supervision. And homeopathy, acupuncture, osteopathy, hypnotherapy and other ‘respectable’ complementary therapies are going the same way. I don’t imagine this will stop some therapists having sexual relationships with their clients. Sexual predators will do it regardless of the rules – look at the medical profession – and there will always be some who ‘fall in love’ and don’t feel able to hold the boundary. But registration will certainly sift out most of those who are incompetent, poorly trained or just well-meaning individuals who once did a ‘skills to counselling’ course at their local tech.

Until then it is the client’s responsibility, unfortunately, to check out the practitioner. Suggestions:

  • Ask for their qualifications, but don’t be put off if they say ‘trainee therapist under supervision’ – they have to be deemed competent to practice by their trainer and supervisor, but they are obliged to inform any clients so be suspicious if they haven’t volunteered that information right at the beginning.
  • Ask whether they are a member of UKCP or BACP. If not, why not?
  • Ask about their supervision arrangements and their commitment to their own Continuous Professional Development.

And if they refuse to answer any of the above, then go somewhere else.

Here endeth the lesson.

28 comments:

Political Umpire said...

Very interesting post. I must admit my views on regulation of professions have changed a bit over the years. On the one hand vulnerable people - and those who seek pyschologists or indeed faith healing quacks - tend to need state protection; on the other hand, I think self-regulating industries tend to form and to function effectively as a form of public protection. Your advice:

"Ask for their qualifications, but don’t be put off if they say ‘trainee therapist under supervision’ – they have to be deemed competent to practice by their trainer and supervisor, but they are obliged to inform any clients so be suspicious if they haven’t volunteered that information right at the beginning.Ask whether they are a member of UKCP or BACP. If not, why not?Ask about their supervision arrangements and their commitment to their own Continuous Professional Development. And if they refuse to answer any of the above, then go somewhere else. "

hits the nail on the head. Given that even vulnerable people should be able to establish what professional body a supposed practitioner belongs to (and go elsewhere if the answer is none) I wonder what extra benefit a state imposed regulatory system would bring - particularly as it is next to impossible to stop quacks offering their services under a different name (as with the homeopathic weirdos who infer that they are a GP substitute, or indeed the fact that people can now travel overseas for medical treatment far easier than twenty years ago).

I suppose a complaints procedure and disciplinary measures might be more efficient in theory if derived from government regulation, due to the weapons of enforcement they could be given, but the record of the Law Society's various disciplinary offshoots (office for the supervision of solicitors, solicitors' disciplinary tribunal, etc) aren't exactly a shining beacon of efficiency and customer satisfaction. Done properly, a self regulatory body should be able to provide an efficient complaints mechanism and a system of enforcement that would include (i) suspension of membership; (ii) fines in the form of a contractual penalty; and (iii) referral to the police of relevant information where there appears to have been a criminal assault. Indeed, in all those respects one might expect a private body to be more efficient than a public one.

Ms Melancholy said...

I agree that self-regulatory bodies generally do the job. The big problem is that one can currently practice without being a member of such a body. This is exceptionally galling for those of us who work hard to meet the criteria. I think the government will accept the criteria of the current regulatory bodies, but make accreditation by such a body compulsory before one can practice. It seems common sense to me, but you know what common sense did...

Ms Melancholy said...

Oh, and I feel compelled to defend homeopaths! My homeopath cleared my son's on-going eczema after just one treatment...

Political Umpire said...

Yes but as I've just blogged about (my comments were getting too long, as ever, so I've done a separate post over at my blog) even the presence of a compulsory regulatory body won't prevent dodgy non-qualified quacks (and no offence to Mr Duck here) offering their services. They just have to be careful about what they call themselves. A quick google search reveals many. Several watchdog/undercover TV programmes I've seen (ahhh Television, teacher, mother, secret lover or whatever it was the great philosopher Homer said) have shown how easy it is to set up on Harley St literally) and put yourself forward as some sort of medical professional. I think the answer is for your professional bodies, and indeed the practitioners themselves, to advertise better about what their requirements are, so that people are aware that not all psychotherapists are alike.

I wouldn't knock the whole of homeopathy. I think our knowledge of medicine, how the body works etc is somewhat less comprehensive than doctors like to think. I had acupuncture on a sprained ankle which worked amazingly well. And I had that weird experience of lifting someone with my fingertips, as I described on Gracchi's blog.

Then again, I have seen it pointed out by a distinguished professor of medicine that the concentration of certain homeopathic remedies is so low as to be effectively nil; that is, according to standard chemistry there was nothing of the claimed active ingredient present at all.

Still, if it worked for your son then there's no looking a gift horse in the mouth. I certainly wasn't making too much of an inquiry into the acupuncture. even if it is true in both cases that the results _may_ have had nothing to do with the treatment beyond a placebo effect.

Ms Melancholy said...

'Yes but as I've just blogged about (my comments were getting too long, as ever, so I've done a separate post over at my blog) even the presence of a compulsory regulatory body won't prevent dodgy non-qualified quacks (and no offence to Mr Duck here) offering their services. They just have to be careful about what they call themselves.'

You are absolutely right, of course. There will always be those with ill intent who will scramble round the rules and rather than attempt to legislate for them, rather than the majority, we should encourage personal responsibility in people using services. My hope is that regulation will sift out the 'unconscious incompetents' - those who mean well, but really shouldn't be doing the job without a whole lot more training and supervision. Being well-meaning just simply doesn't cut the mustard as far as therapy is concerned.

Thanks for the link, by the way...

nmj said...

I used to enjoy Barefoot Doctor too in Observer, though sometimes he seemed to suggest that just by breathing properly you could cure all ills - neurological illness/bad boyfriend/whatever . . .it all seemed a bit too easy and pat. I am quite sad to read about his 'indiscretions'.

RE. homeopathy, I don't know how the hell it works, it has never helped me, but I know plenty of people it has helped and I don't think qualified homeopaths would take kindly to being described as 'homeopathic wierdos'! Patients can get NHS referrals to homeopaths...

Political Umpire said...

Hello, Ms NMJ

"I don't think qualified homeopaths would take kindly to being described as 'homeopathic wierdos'!"

Have a read of _Bad Thoughts_ by Jamie Whyte for an argument about the illogicality of homeopathy. I don't claim to be an expert, but some of his criticisms are very cutting indeed (though see what I said in previous comments).

" Patients can get NHS referrals to homeopaths..." And very controversially too!

nmj said...

Hey Political Umpire, I am totally with you on the apparent absurdity of homeopathy, and I have seen your other comment (sorry, I had not read it properly) - it was more the actual wording 'weirdos' I objected to . . . I have had much experience of alternative therapies since orthodox medicine has offered me nothing and has on occasion made me worse, and while I think there are many charlatans out there, and homeopathy has not helped my ME symptoms, I know it has helped people with skin disorders and other physical illnesses; I suppose I think that homeopathy should not not be dismissed so summarily . . . people get very passionate about this subject, and I am usually quite shirty about alternative medicine (in relation to my own illness), but if you are chronically ill and an alternative therapy helps you, you are surely going to defend it...I know there is controversy about NHS homeopathy referrals, but there is controversy in most areas of medicine, I've been living through one for 23 years - things are seldom black and white!

Political Umpire said...

Ok Ms NMJ, I think we're visciously agreeing here. What I said originally was "as with the homeopathic weirdos who infer that they are a GP substitute" which wasn't meant to include _all_ homeopaths or alternate forms of medicine. But it was a sloppy phrase from someone legally qualified, so my bad, as the Americans would put it.

For sure, if it works, use it!

nmj said...

Yes, Political Umpire, I think we prob are agreeing, but am a little perplexed about what you mean by 'vi(s)ciously', I would NEVER be vicious on a comments thread! Oh dear ...

Reading the Signs said...

I think I feel as nmj does in respect of Barefoot - I enjoyed his column for a bit, liked some of his musings but had the same response to many of his exercises as I do to Affirmations. I had a look at the link to his site, Ms M, and seemed to be able to enter it ok. Looking at the photos, he comes across as a bit of a lad on the make - someone you might not want to buy a used car from, not a guru at all. Funny. But perhaps that's in the light of recent disclosures.

Regulation for psychotherapy and counselling: yes! Unfortunately there are still cowboys out there doing damage.

Ms Melancholy said...

Homeopathy is very interesting discipline. I am not expert on it, but I know of the scientific arguments against it and I have also seen it work and, indeed, it has worked for me. My gut feeling is that there is a lot that conventional science can't understand or explain. What attracts me to homeopathy is that it treats the whole system rather than the illness, and aims to bring dysfunctional systems back into balance. Conventional medicine is notoriously bad at that, and often the medicines prescribed for one set of symptoms simply trigger another - psychiatric medication is a good case in point. Some say that homeopathy works entirely on the placebo effect. It still worked for my son's eczema, and it is hard to believe that it was entirely a placebo. Is there a homeopath out there who is willing to enlighten us???

RTS - you are right about the cowboys. My big gripe is the cowboy treatments that promise your life will be transformed by some magic tapping, or visualisations, or chanting affirmations. Sure, they will be of some help to some people. But most people come to therapy with attachment issues or core damage to their sense of self and the only thing that can transform that is to have a therapeutic attachment that will allow you to have a different experience of yourself in relation to another. I could go on and on, but I won't!

Ms Melancholy said...

PS I also could enter Barefoot's site, but when I clicked on his diary entries - which I presume contains said statement - all I could get was an invitation to pay him some money!

Political Umpire said...

Funnily enough when home sick Mrs Umpire saw a programme on Home & Health about three women trying to lose weight after giving birth. One went for cosmetic surgery, one for gym work, and one for 'alternative' methods. The alternative method involved, amongst other things, a woman using what looked like sai swords or bbq implements to wave around above the patient 'channelling energy'. I tried the same to Mrs Umpire using our BBQ tools, and it worked - she laughed so hard that she must have used a lot of calories up. The patient was, however, the least successful of the three. Goes to show how a fool and her money can be easily parted (though there's always the question of how the fool and her money got together in the first place ...)

Ms Melancholy said...

Nice story, Mr PU :0)

Atyllah said...

Barefoot likes to call himself a taoist but having had the misfortune of attending one of Mr Barefoot's seminars several years ago, I can assure you he wouldn't know a taoist if the monk came up and bit him on the bum. His rise to fame, as I recall, was closely associated with the fact that Madonna was a client. Says it all.

Ms Melancholy said...

Atyllah - I hadn't realised Madonna was a former client. I wonder if she was one of those who made a complaint of sexual harrassment to 'Witness'? I have always liked his writing, but I confess to having some suspicion about someone who uses his fame and 'celebrity' status to estoll the Taoist view that fame and celebrity are shallow substitutes for genuine self-actualisation. It seems rather paradoxical to me. A bit like Oliver James, in fact, who I shall certainly blog about in the not too distant future.

I would love to hear about your experience of one of barefoot's seminars...

Jack said...

It is VERY long...but if you are interested here is the vitriolic defence put up by the BareFaced Liar:

My Statement
2006-10-12 14:54:00
What I’m about to do is a difficult task – presenting myself fairly in the light of having my reputation as a healer brought into disrepute recently by various members or ex-members of this site on a forum elsewhere in what has felt like a mob lynching exercise, so bear with me.
The scurrilous rumours being spread about me are along the lines of me using so-called hypnotic powers on vulnerable women to seduce them against their will, which I refute entirely. I have no such powers and know of no such powers existing. I also state categorically, I have only ever had consensual sex – I have never had sex with anyone in my entire life where it wasn’t consensual and would never dream of doing so.
Without boasting in any way – to the contrary, this would not be the time to be boasting and I hope I’m coming across humbly as intended – I am an attractive man, as well as which I’m approachable, open-hearted, trusting, caring and generally kind, generous and affectionate by nature – I have strong appeal to women, in other words, as well as which I’m a celebrity of sorts and we all know the draw of that in this twisted society of ours. And as you know from my writing, I am of the school, perhaps a little old-fashioned in this respect, where it’s permissible to speak freely and honestly about whatever comes into your head, providing the other person has shown themselves to be up for it. This combination has both blessed and cursed me with being of interest to women and having a profile increases this exponentially – indeed it adds a certain extra currency to getting close to me, as we all know by observing the mechanics of today’s celebrity culture.
My open trusting nature and willingness to say it how it is, in the instance that triggered this mob lynching effect, was perhaps taken mistakenly as the use of hypnotic power to seduce someone, who by her own admission stated that nothing actually happened on the day I met her, hence so much for hypnotic powers, but if so I truly don’t see how.
I was at the time going through the worst of an extremely painful separation with my wife and needed someone kind and trustworthy to talk to that day – preferably a woman, as I’d been hanging with the guys a lot and was wanting some female perspective from someone who had no interest in me as a romantic or sexual object – I wanted a shoulder to cry on and a chance to unload. The woman in question was someone I’d met at a couple of School For Warriors and had liked for the very reasons she seemed kind, understanding and didn’t flirt with me. She’d requested a healing session with me – ironically to work on relationship stuff – I’d pointed out the irony at once, claiming I was certainly no expert in that department and in any case we couldn’t find a mutually convenient time for the session, so instead I invited her for a walk and a talk on the Heath, as I needed a chance to unload and made perfectly clear from the start that this was not as the Doc but as the person and a person who was vulnerable and in pain. I made it perfectly clear she was not my patient. I don’t treat patients while walking on the Heath for a start.
She agreed to keep the conversation confidential and we proceeded to share our stories with each other. Once I started on mine, I went into full-on Woody Allen mode and just started pouring out all the details about my marriage including the reasons it went wrong, which amounted to me having been conducting email dialogues with various women of a sexual nature in what I now realise was a totally despicable way – it was my inadequate way of dealing with commitment phobia and one which in my befuddled way at the time I thought was somehow OK – however it obviously wasn’t OK and my wife found the emails – not once but three times. As well as this I succumbed on one occasion during a trip to London to receiving oral sex from an ex-lover and admitted so to my wife in what amounted to the start of getting real and trying to start healing the relationship in a bid to save my marriage, because however underhandedly and despicably I’d been behaving I loved and do love her with all my heart and am committed to making the relationship good with her. I told the woman, whom I’m not naming here to save her embarrassment, of how the marriage had been hard from the start on account of a terribly sad and for my wife, extremely painful double miscarriage of twins, followed by me getting seriously ill with a kidney stone, then a slipped disc, then diverticulitis and all that compounded by the disorientation of living in Spain, along with the financial straights I’d placed us in by risking everything we had on building this site – in those days, by the way, building sites as big and as this, was ten times more costly than it is these days because it was groundbreaking and there were no templates to work off.
I told the woman that I am in therapy at the moment – my issue, clarifying my boundaries to others, the lack of clarity over which in the past has led to this current situation. She told me she was undergoing similar therapy and was starting to train as one herself. So I felt perfectly safe confiding in her, once again I repeat, not as a healer with her as patient but as a man in great need of solace and understanding during a terribly difficult patch for me, because though people tend to think otherwise, I’m human, I go through hard times from time to time and have feelings just like anyone else.
And this was the theme of the discussion on the Heath – boundaries. I explained I found it hard being a child of the 60s to not want to be totally honest in every situation, so if, for instance I perceived there to be sexual tension I’d prefer acknowledging it in order to dispel it. I also acknowledged this was a risky approach as it could be seen as a seduction ploy but that in the main it worked to sublimate the tension and thus lead to a greater understanding and rapport.
I noted a sexual tension between us at the time, went into a fascinating and candid discussion about it, which was totally mutual and then noted to her a short while later how it had indeed been dispelled as a result of talking about it.
She said it hadn’t for her. I politely assured her it would soon and let it go at that.
I then dropped her home on my way over to see a friend and she leaned over and kissed me on the lips goodbye – I was surprised but flattered and made a gesture of graciously declining the possibility of it meaning a crossing of the boundary. I was in fact riveted by the notion of not crossing boundaries that day and nothing would have made me done so.
I subsequently found out she’d told a friend about my marriage and that she’d for some reason been in a distressed state about what had gone on between us. This surprised me for as far as I was concerned nothing had gone on between us other than two people sharing their intimate stories in a session of mutual support and therapy in the strictest confidence. But it also dismayed me because I had trusted her and the trust had been broken. I would never divulge, publicly or privately, the incredibly intimate details of her life she shared with me that day and wonder how she’d be feeling now had I done so. I have upheld the trust she placed in me in that respect, not on account of any professional confidentiality code, as the whole conversation occurred in a private rather than professional capacity, but on account of my innate human decency. If someone shares details of their private life with you in strict confidence, you keep what they tell you in confidence, don’t you? That’s what I’ve always believed and adhered to in any case.
Ironically the thread in question is titled, ‘abuse of trust’ and its gist is that she came to me as a patient for a healing, though as I said that wasn’t the agreement and that I’d spoken disparagingly about my wife. I had been careful to point out at the time that every time I mentioned her in a potentially negative way, this was only expressing the negative thoughts in my head and was not in any way meant disrespectfully towards my wife, for whom I have utmost respect, indeed she is without doubt one of the most magnificent, strong and enlightened people I have ever met but more about her later. I was just unloading – that was the point of the talk after all. I should remind you that this woman told me she is training in psychotherapy, and it was in an atmosphere of mutual therapy – two intelligent people talking, that the conversation had ensued, at least as far as I’d been aware.
She then went on in this other forum (for which she’d posted links prominently on various boards in the forum on this site), to detail the reasons for my marriage break-up – the oral sex episode and the various email exchanges of a salacious nature.
She went on then to say I’d told her I had an erection and wanted to lick her nipples. In fact these were examples I’d given of the sort of thing I might have blurted out as they came into my head in the past before I’d understood the meaning of boundaries but wouldn’t do so now.
She finished by saying when I dropped her off I put my hand behind her head and pulled her to me to kiss me, which I definitely didn’t. My hands were on the wheel as I was waiting to drive off.
She also claimed I’d been influencing her all the while with the mysterious hypnotic power I’m alleged to posses, so that even if she’d wanted to get away she couldn’t. From where I was looking, she was having a superb time, the whole time, was engrossed in the two way dialogue, laughing and generally enjoying the whole event immensely.
Her whole story is predicated on a total contradiction from the start in fact. She insinuates the agreement was for me to be giving her healing and therefore be acting in a professional role and yet that when she came to my place for the treatment she hadn’t wanted to stay but managed to persuade me to go out for a walk. I’ve never heard of such a thing. If you go to someone for a treatment you don’t persuade them to go out for a walk.
It was me who had got us out as soon as she arrived. I’d been wanting to get out all day and was eager to get to the Heath. We had arranged to go for a walk, so why would I have wanted to sit indoors.

I can only say that she was confused subsequent to the walk for some reason but not because of anything I’d said or done. I’d taken supreme care to be a gentleman and be clear as a bell throughout in fact.

Though I am not happy about her disclosure of my own personal details – the sexual emails and all the rest, which I’ll go into that later - the truly heartbreaking thing for me and my wife, as I’m sure you can relate to, especially if you’ve ever been involved in a painful miscarriage, was that my wife’s personal privacy was infringed and private details about her personal life made public in what we both felt was a terribly inhumane and callous way, especially as she’s a very private person. But more of that later too.

This woman’s defamatory and privacy infringing post on the forum there sparked up a vindictive frenzy of support from a group of women, none of whom I have met personally, though I’m not totally sure as they all have aliases, a veritable baying for my blood as if it was now a quasi-political cause to bring an end to the illustrious career of Barefoot Doctor.

I can categorically state I have never taken advantage of, or used any dark powers to seduce any women I’ve been healing. I wouldn’t and don’t need to do such a thing.
There have been times over my long career as a healer, as a younger, single man, that I did indeed enter into, by mutual consent, affairs or relationships with women I’d once treated but never when I was actually treating them, so that I was operating in a private capacity rather than a professional one and always made that clear. And then only ever if they gave me a signal they were interested. I’m actually shy and have never proactively gone out to pull in my life – I find the very notion crude – as far as I am concerned, the woman must be the one to give the first signal, otherwise it feels like an infringement to me – not that this is relevant to me now because there’s only one woman I want and that’s my wife.

It’s important to point out the distinction between me in a professional capacity and me in a private capacity.
However, what has happened here is an example not only of a breach of trust in terms of breaking confidentiality over intimate details shared by me, but is also a clear example of how because I’m the Barefoot Doctor, people choose to imagine I’m always working and always operating in my professional capacity even when I’m engaged in my private life and am therefore subject to scrutiny. This is unfair. I am a human being as well. I have a private life. I invited this woman into my private life as a friend, which I consider an honour – don’t you, when you invite someone to be your friend and confide in them?

Now to the salacious email exchange between me and someone I’ve never met and who goes under the alias of Daze who used to write a column on the site here. Daze is one of the antagonists on the other forum and she has said some things about the exchange with which I take issue.
Firstly, they suggest emailing them to get your own copy of the exchange and I have no problem with you doing so. I had a few of these exchanges going with different women at the time as it happens. It was a mild form of compulsion, as I say probably to do with needing an escape fantasy on account of my innate commitment phobia, from which I now no longer suffer, having worked it through in great depth in the dialogue with my wife as well as in therapy. In the midst of a busy day, I would fire off these responses hardly without thinking – these would provide moments of adrenalin. I didn’t even know what any of these women looked like. These threads would start with whichever woman flirting with me and me responding. I must add here I never instigated these threads.
It was flattering and I’m as insecure and in need of a bit of flattery as anyone else so was susceptible. I’m not anymore. But I was then and I’d say the most outrageous things. Not because I was sitting there getting an erection or masturbating beneath my laptop, even though I said I was from time to time, but because it’s hard to keep finding erotic enough things to say to keep the dialogue interesting, as I’m sure you know if you’ve ever got into sexy email exchanges with strangers yourself – and believe me I know most people do at some point in their lives.
So if you get to read them, you’ll notice how I get into subtleties such as licking ever so gently between the crack of the buttocks, teasing the tops of the pubic hair there and all that sort of thing. So if you like that brand of soft porn, do check them out. Personally I think you’ll find them rather boring after a while – I know I did. After all it’s only sex and ultimately who cares.
However I kept them going with Daze, as I did with most of them after the first couple of emails to and fro, because I got scared if I told her I’d got bored, she’d get angry and would make a noise and my wife would find out and I’d be in the shit.
That was weak. I’ve learned that lesson the hard way.
One night I got rushed into hospital in Spain on the edge of death with a seized up bowel. Having seen me settled on my ward, my wife – her name’s Nicola by the way – went home and happened to turn on my computer so she could send an email to a mutual friend whose address wasn’t on her computer and happened to catch the first couple of lines of an email from Daze. She read further and to her horror discovered the whole dialogue.
The fact that I pointed out the email in which I had explicitly agreed with Daze that this was all just fantasy fun and not real did nothing to assuage her dreadful sense of having been betrayed by the man she loves. We’re past that now – this was all over a year ago. She now understands fully that this was no reflection on her but was all down to my own then split-off aspect needing to act out via email escapist fantasies.


However, Daze, whom I remind you, I’ve never met, has retold the story as being one in which we were deeply in love to the extent she was planning to come over to Spain to be with me. She says she told me she wasn’t up for doing that until I was free. She said my wife found an email saying I was in love with her (Daze) and it was this that caused my wife so much pain. She never found such an email as one doesn’t exist. I was never in love with Daze, in fact if you’ve ever seen a picture of Daze, which I hadn’t at that point – that’s right I didn’t even know what she looked like – you’ll understand how she’d not exactly be my cup of tea. What Nicola found was merely stuff about rubbing the end of my throbbing manhood slowly and gently between her glistening labia and all that sort of nonsense. She also found the email from Daze talking about how she fantasised coming to Spain, which she was actually going to do and did, still hoping to see me even after my requesting her not to do so but at the time wasn’t invited up to the house to meet us on account of all this. She spoke of her fantasy of having sex with me while Nicola and the others looked after her son whom she was bringing with and how it would be fun to do that behind Nicola’s back. That’s the sort of thing Nicola read and you can imagine how that betrayal by another woman compounded her sense of betrayal by the man she loves.
From my hospital bed, where I had now managed to claw myself back to life after some pretty hefty intervention from the magnificent Catalan medical crew looking after me, I sent Daze an SMS telling her Nicola had read the emails so to stop being in contact and not to come to Spain, as it would be highly inappropriate under the circumstances – she’d been coming as part of a trip to Europe and was going to make a pod with me for the members – that was the reason for having invited her to the village in the first place, not because of some fantasy I wished to enact with her.
As it happens, she already knew because as soon as Nicola had found the emails, she’d instinctively emailed Daze to tell her how hurt she was. Daze merely responded with, ‘I wish you peace in your heart,’, which in my opinion is tantamount to saying piss off.
I don’t want to go on about it much more. Daze claimed I’d mistreated her. Nicola and I say she’s spun a ridiculous yarn and managed to get a few weak-minded people to believe her. But as a woman, who in her imagination was having a relationship with me and then got dumped as she put it – both total fantasy – she started acting as a woman scorned and managed to whip up a flurry of support, turned people against me, she had no right turning against me and has been currently driving the energy in this thread on their forum. She even lodged a complaint with some charity or other that deals with victims of abuse by healers on behalf of the woman I went out for a walk with to claim I’d used my hypnotic powers to seduce her (into giving me a kiss on the lips goodbye) even though I wasn’t hanging with that woman as a healer but as a man needing a shoulder to cry on and someone I could confide in and trust and she kissed me. How does that work?
As for this charity, they apparently say they have a file of complaints about me. I can safely say I have never done anything of an untoward sexual nature as a healer in my professional capacity. However, when I was in full-time practice, something I gave up in 2000, there were times, as I say that having finished treating someone and therefore no longer their healer, that a relationship, affair or fling would ensue, based entirely on mutual consent and always only because the woman gave me the signal first. I was and am not predatory as being claimed, in other words.
I didn’t need to be as explained before.
However, during that phase though I’d always explain clearly to any woman before embarking on any sexual adventure, I was married to my work and wasn’t up for a love affair and always got their agreement on that before getting involved, they would sometimes, for their own reasons, feel guilty about it afterwards, not be able to face what they’d done and would then go into victim mode and try and emotionally blackmail me into being in a relationship with them. It’s a well-known syndrome and I’m sure you’ve either come across it or heard of it yourself. Woman says yes to just a fuck then turn on you because you’re not willing to have a relationship. And I would lose my patience with that con and stop communicating, which I now see was a mistake but was all I could do at the time and being extremely busy and so not able to waste too much time smoothing things with people who were being entirely unfair with me.
This would lead to them walking around as women scorned and spreading all kinds of nasty rumours about me.
The fact that there are a few of them is not indicative of a pattern of me being guilty of abuse – it’s merely representative of the fact that when I was single between the ages of 34 to 50, I had sex with a huge amount of women. I used to love having sex with lots of women. That’s right. And lots of women used to love having sex with me.
I was prolific. I was an expert. I wrote two books about it, so it’s no secret.
The fact that a tiny percentage of them felt angry after unsuccessfully trying a sting on me was merely an unfortunate result of the numbers involved.
And when I say was a prolific lover, I’m not boasting. I’m not proud of it. Nor am I ashamed. It’s consensual sex we’re talking about here, not murder.
And then there were those with whom I felt an attraction and engaged in a flirt as you do but without any intention of getting into anything. Perhaps a kiss would happen, perhaps even a bit of a mutual fondle if being a bit undisciplined about it but remember I’m talking about me as a man in my private life here, not as a healer and hence so what.
However these situations were the ones that gave rise to all the problems – the ones I essentially said no to.
I could only be accused perhaps of being a bit of a tease but then again, so what. I recall being teased by women when I was a teenager again and again and I always took it as par for the course, not a crime or something to be lynched for.
For what has gone on here is nothing more than that: a few women who formed fantasies about me, with whom I was perhaps a little flirtatious or playful but who misread that for giving them signs I was in a relationship with them and then feeling as if they’d been dumped when I suddenly lost patience with the game I saw them playing and told them so.
What I am guilty of is being a total idiot in trusting people too readily, especially in this instance in which my wife’s private details have been made public in a most callous and uncaring and certainly non-sisterly way.
I am also guilty of acting in a deceitful way towards my wife, on account of my extreme immaturity at the time and causing her so much pain and anguish thereby.
I have naturally apologised in private to her long before now, apologised a thousand times in fact but I am now apologising to her in public from the bottom of my heart. Nicola, I am sorry for the awful pain and anguish I have caused you.
I will also say that contrary to what’s being said in that forum, I was not reaching out to these various women via email because I was unhappy in my marriage – it was merely me being unresolved in myself. Yes my marriage has been hard for stretches of time – what marriage hasn’t – but I have never been happier or more deeply in love with anyone as I am with Nicola. She is without doubt one of the strongest, most enlightened, most gracious, wisest, most powerful women and people I have ever known and is certainly the most beautiful. I am extremely blessed that she has chosen to forgive my former stupidity and is now standing firmly behind me all the way.
So much so in fact, that all this scurrilous perfidy going on in that other forum has only served to bring us even closer together.
For indeed, should you read the thread on that other forum, you’ll easily discern an undercurrent of this gang wanting her well out of the way, as if her presence in my life is a betrayal of their thwarted love for me.
So there it is.
I could tell you more – I could talk about the claims of other people in that forum – I could answer them all but they all boil down to the same thing. Emotionally unstable women harbouring imaginary fantasies about me, which yes I may have encouraged or even inspired at times but as a celebrity not as a healer, and then who turned against me when I eventually told them I wasn’t interested in making those fantasies a reality. However were I to enumerate them at this point it would become tedious, so I will leave it at that.
Save to say, I have dedicated 30 years to serving my sisters and brothers in various ways by offering healing advice and help wherever I’ve been able. There’ll be no shortage of people who’ll tell you of my generosity and dedication in doing so. Again I’m not boasting. I’ve done it all because I love it – I love the Tao of it all and as a result, have been providing a service and have helped literally millions of people round the world with it and am intending to continue to do so.
However if I am to be subject to regular rounds of attacks and slurs on me in my own forum or on others, I will not continue. I will find a different way to serve and all the hundreds and thousands of people I help through this site on a daily basis will have to go and find that help elsewhere.
So people of the lynch mob, I will leave both my career and their wellbeing in this respect in your hands. If the few of you wish to spoil it for the many, if you wish to crucify me, go ahead but let it be on your heads, not mine.
I was going to instigate defamation and infringement of privacy proceedings. I’ve been vouchsafed £100,000 to fight the case by a supporter who is incensed by what’s been going on, as have been many rather heavy hitters who’ve been observing it, yet have decided to refrain for the time being from doing that as I believe it would be ultimately destructive for everyone concerned.
Instead in the spirit of tai chi yielding, I give the responsibility to you in the lynch mob. You are free to wreck my career and all I’ve worked for, along with removing the possibility of me being able to offer the help others want or need from me, simply by continuing to spread and propound these rumours, or you can back off and leave me alone to do my work.
I’m aware you have your own suffering going on about it because you know you’ve wronged me and must live with that. If I wish anything for you, it’s merely that you can be at peace enough with yourselves not to need to indulge this sort of thing anymore and start to enjoy your lives rather than wasting them away trying to destroy other people on the internet.
I will now reopen the forum - it will take some hours to be activated after posting this.
I will let it remain open for the weekend.
When I come back after taking a short break to concentrate on various other areas of my work and relax after all this, if I find then or in the ensuing time, any defamatory or infringement of privacy posts or links up, I will simply close the forum down, do what I can to give you all refunds for the balances of your subs and say goodbye.
Meanwhile to everyone who’s reading this, whether you were aware of the situation or not, I have always been clear that I am not a god. I have never wanted to encourage people to deify me, yet people have insisted on doing just that. The problem with it being, that once you’ve been deified, they then set about destroying you because you turn out to have been human all along.
I am human.
I’ve always said so.
I have committed no crimes.
I’ve been stupid but I’ve committed no crimes.
However I am not bothered to waste time and energy defending myself for being human – there’s a big world out there and lots of other things I could do.
I would however like to continue to serve you as best I can in the way I’ve been doing. I believe it’s my role to do so.
We’ll leave it in the hands of the few and see what happens.

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