UK: Journalist welcomes BACP decision to strike off anti-gay therapist

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Lesley Pilkington, the Christian psychotherapist who was found to be providing gay conversion therapy, has finally been struck off by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).

She was initially found guilty of malpractice by the BACP in July 2011, following an undercover investigation by the journalist Patrick Strudwick, but had subsequently appealed the decision.

Mrs Pilkington had told Mr Strudwick in 2010 that homosexuality was a “mental illness” and she could help him overcome it.

However, on Wednesday it was announced that the BACP had terminated her membership.

On Monday, the BACP issued new guidelines to its 30,000 members, saying: “it opposed any psychological treatment such as ‘reparative’ or ‘conversion’ therapy which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality is a mental disorder, or based on the premise that the client/patient should change his/her sexuality.”

Writing in the Independent, Patrick Strudwick said the BACP should have taken more determined action against Mrs Pilkington at an earlier stage:

“One of the scandals of this case was that Pilkington could have clawed her way back into her professional organisation. The BACP gave her a get-out-of-jail-free card with their sanctions.

“To retain her membership, after being suspended, all she needed to do was write a report within a month of May’s verdict, reflecting on the findings against her, and then, between four and twelve months, write another more detailed response, countersigned by her supervisor, explaining changes she had made in her practice that ‘demonstrate her learning’”.

Mr Strudwick cites Mrs Pilkington’s own inability to follow the warnings of the BACP – who previously described her behaviour as “negligent”, “dogmatic” and “unprofessional” – for her ultimate dismissal as a member of the body.

“That they even allowed her any leeway is a disgrace,” Mr Strudwick adds.