Psychotherapist Camila Batmanghelidjh, the founder of troubled charity Kids Company, revealed this week that she is not a member of any professional body, despite having thirty years experience working in the field. If one her of psychotherapy clients wanted to make a complaint against her they would quickly find nobody to make that complaint to. She explained that when she trained “it wasn’t an absolute requirement that you became a member” but that, in all the years she has been practising: “I just haven’t organised my membership”.
Batmanghelidjh was appearing before the House of Commons public administration and constitutional affairs committee (video) along with Alan Yentob chair of the trustees to explain to MPs the governance of the failed charity. The exchange where she revealed her lack of professional memberships came early on when the chair, Bernard Jenkin, was probing the credentials she held to be able to diagnose children with psychosis:
Chair: You’re a psychotherapist yourself?
CB: I’m a psychotherapist myself.
Chair: What were your qualifications?
CB: My qualifications are I have a four year psychotherapy training, I’ve had eighteen years of psychoanalysis, I did one year of arts psychotherapy at Goldsmiths and I’ve had..I’ve now got some thirty years of work experience behind me. Kids Company wasn’t the first thing. I founded Place2be, prior to that I worked in women’s aid…
Chair: …and what professional bodies are you a member of?
CB: I am accountable to UKCP, but I just haven’t organised my membership.
Chair: you’re accountable to?
CB: …to UKCP . United Kingdom Psychotherapy Association (sic)
Chair: But you’re not a member
CB Not I’m not a member (shakes head)
Chair So you’re not a member of any professional body?
CB I’m not a member of any professional body because when I trained it wasn’t an absolute requirement that you became a member, but I have been speaking to UKCP before all this happened about them organising a membership.
Listening as a professional counsellor with fifteen years of experience, my jaw dropped during this exchange. I know that many of my peers have been similarly shocked. In my time I have met a number of individuals who refuse to join any professional body and when I ask where a client should go if they are unhappy, or wants to make a complaint, they usually say that they abide by the UKCP or BACP code of ethics. A client would be very disappointed if they approached either of these bodies to be told that sorry, your counsellor is not a member – there is nothing we can do.
Please Ms Batmanghelidjh and others, join something, for the sake of your clients and the protection of the public. Thirty years is long enough to sort out your membership.
Update: Thanks also to Phil Dore at Unsafe Spaces for picking this up and adding very interesting information about her qualifications.