I’ve just received an email from Christian Concern entitled: Lesley Pilkington Appeal.
I originally blogged about this a year ago, but if you don’t know the details, it revolves around Lesley Pilkington, a Christian psychotherapist, who currently faces being stripped of her accreditation to the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) after treating a patient who had told her he wanted to be “cured” of his homosexuality.
It transpired that the “patient” was in fact prominent homosexual rights campaigner and journalist, Patrick Strudwick, who secretly recorded two sessions of the “Sexual Orientation Change Efforts” (SOCE) counselling, and subsequently complained to BACP and attacked her in the press.
BACP ruled last year that Lesley Pilkington was guilty of professional misconduct and had broken the ethical code.
This has hit the news again as Lesley Pilkington is appealing the decision today (30th Jan) seeking to have her disciplinary case ‘struck out’ on the basis that the original hearing was unfair, lacked in due process and discriminated against her Christian faith.
Added to this is the fact that Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey and two serving bishops (as well as others) have today called for Lesley Pilkington to be restored to full professional status.
Here’s the text of the letter:
Lesley Pilkington is a practising psychotherapist who distinguishes very carefully between her non-directive counselling and the biblical and pastoral counselling which, as a Christian, she also offers. She was approached, at a conference, by a man who said he was unhappy being homosexual, and wanted her to help. Lesley explained to him that she only works in this area within a biblical Christian framework, after which he claimed that he was a Christian.
After two sessions he announced that he was in fact a gay journalist, wanting to ‘expose’ her and people like her. He then lodged complaints against her with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). He objected to the biblical Christian values used in this case of therapy, and also to the claim that ‘change is possible’ even though he had expressed his willing agreement to undergo this therapy.
Psychological care for those who are distressed by unwanted homosexual attractions has been shown to yield a range of beneficial client outcomes, especially in motivated clients. This is supported by recent empirical evidence from Byrd, Nicolosi, Shaeffer, Spitzer, Jones and Yarhouse. Such therapy does not produce harm despite the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych) and others maintaining the contrary. In this area, the RCPsych seems to be guided by the Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Mental Health Special Interest Group, and could therefore be partial to one view.
We believe that people who seek, freely, to resolve unwanted same-sex attractions hold the moral right to receive professional assistance. Whether motivated by Christian conscience or other values, clients, not practitioners, have the prerogative to choose the yardstick by which to define themselves. Not everyone stakes their identity on sexual feelings.
If practitioners reject or challenge a client’s right to self-determination, they risk causing potential harm to that client’s well-being. They would also be violating professional ethical codes which, among other things, call for respect for client autonomy.
The mental health profession, which professes to be sensitive and respectful towards diversity and equality, should be aware of taking a paternalistic line that says, effectively, ‘Not all clients know what is best for their lives.’ Furthermore, competent practitioners, including those working with biblical Judeo-Christian values, should be free to assist those seeking help.
Just a couple of quick points.
There appears to be some indication that Pilkington views homosexuality as mental illness. This is obviously not a view shared by her profession, as homosexuality was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
Both BACP and the Royal College of Psychiatrists are opposed to sexual reparative therapy and as I’ve said recently, I for one could not imagine any amount of therapy reorienting my sexual proclivity. However, if a person seeks treatment for an unwanted sexual attraction, I feel they should be free to do so, and psychotherapists should be free to offer this service.
Another issue surrounds Pilkington’s use of a biblical Christian framework in the counselling, which was picked up on at the BACP hearing. It must be borne in mind that Strudwick approached Pilkington at a “largely Christian conference” and agreed contractually with her for this particular Christian based sexual reorientation service.
Anyway, Pilkington was most certainly the victim of a cunning sting operation and it will be interesting to see how this all pans out.