Susie's story

My Story, by Susie

I was groomed and manipulated by my clinical supervisor. Looking back on it I feel embarrassed by my naivety. That said, I am a trusting person, and this person was clearly highly skilled in the art of grooming and manipulation, so I’m not too hard on myself.

I kept personal journals throughout the entire relationship with him, so I can clearly see how and where it all happened. Over a period of a year he recruited me, flattered me, gave me special treatment, gave me free bodywork sessions (to help increase his hours as an intern), encouraged me to leave my partner (we are still together), promoted me and then, decided to tell me that I had a repressed sexual trauma that could only be accessed if I removed my knickers. At the time, he had literally the day before offered me very generous favours in respect of my counselling work, and I was also waiting for him to write the supervisory report for my counselling qualification.  I returned to the next session to confront him with the problems I had with what he had asked (telling me I had a repressed sexual trauma, then telling me I had to take my knickers off so that he could access it – seems a sure way of retraumatising if ever I heard one). I wanted to ensure that I hadn’t misunderstood. No, I hadn’t, He reiterated exactly the same thing. I need to look at my blind spots if I’m to be a good counsellor. I am not in “true relationship” with him if I allow my fears to get in the way of this generous therapy he is offering. Oh, and he doesn’t fancy me, he isn’t trying to get me to take my knickers off for that reason. There was no ambiguity whatsoever, unfortunately. Hence more tears of disbelief from me. Then I booked another appointment as far away as seemed feasible, received my supervisory report,then cancelled it. Then the special treatment stopped.

About 10 months later, after gradually working on becoming professionally independent, I confided my experience with a trusted colleague. I didn’t know who was in my supervisor-therapist’s inner circle (this guy owns a supposedly not-for-profits counselling agency and recruits all the staff, and chooses who he supervises, sublets his private premises to some, skims off clients who pay top-whack and give them to his “inner circle” employees. I guess I was in the inner circle until I decided, through floods of tears, that I was going to keep my knickers on.). Anyway, I sensed that this colleague was not in the inner circle, and I was planning my escape anyway, and told him of my experience. His head fell into his hands as he said “I’m so sorry but you’re not the only person that has come to me with that kind of story”.

Since then there has been a hellish experience trying to protect others from being treated in this way. Fortunately (and unfortunately) I am not alone. I resigned as soon as I found out that he was inappropriate to other women too. It became too unbearable and sickening to ignore. He sacked people who raised concerns. I knew he would be unreasonable, it all felt so utterly wrong on a gut level, so I resigned first. I happened to get a wonderful email telling me what a great counsellor I was and how he would refer clients to me. Then I told him why I was leaving. Things changed. He didn’t deny it. But then a colleague who I did have some respect for once, was promoted by him to be co-director. An aggressive “ex-lawyer in the City of London” according to her threats (actually a paralegal for a fast food company) has taken up his cause and  the most disgusting, vile hate campaign of animosity that those who know about the case have ever witnessed. They lodged 2 professional complaints against me and wrote a character assassination letter about myself and other woman involved in the complaints and circulated it around peers and professionals (who all rightly think that this behaviour is simply proving how guilty he must be).

Both complaints against me were rejected. The hearing against his organisation (for he, as an individual, is not accountable to anybody and she has resigned from the BACP to avoid the accountability for her appalling behaviour.) will be held in the next few months.

I was his client. I have been treated in the most despicable way possible. I had empathy at the time, especially for this poor woman who is financially and emotionally beholden to her “guru”. Now I just think that they are an abomination of the counselling profession. Toxic mavericks wreaking havoc in order to hide the nefarious goings on of a sick man.


  1. The therapist's organisation had membership removed however, he is still practising and the agency is still in operational albeit limping along. Gone are the days of lengthy waiting lists.

    1. How do you know how they are doing? I have heard that there are no waiting lists anymore. I cannot believe there are counsellors who have elected to carry on working for this man. When does cognitive dissonance become delusion?

  2. Yes this must be the Palace Gate Counselling Service in Exeter. A rather cult-like place where the witty-wafty counsellors choose to bury their heads in the sand and ignore BACP findings (it's all a conspiracy!). They think they are working for free to help people get low cost counselling without realising that they are lining the pockets of the owner. People believe what they want to believe I suppose but it's very worrying that there are counsellors who still want to work in that place and be supervised by Clapham and Talbott. What does that say about their integrity?