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Wednesday 26th October 2016

Mind and WITNESS respond to ruling on Derek Gale case

2nd June 2009

The Health Care Professionals Council has today struck off Arts Therapist Derek Gale following wide ranging incidents of misconduct and abuse towards patients in his care. However, Gale has only been banned from practicing as an arts therapist, and under current legislation, can continue to practice as a psychotherapist or counsellor (1).

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, supported by Jonathan Coe, Chief Executive of WITNESS, said:

"Therapy can be an extremely sensitive process involving people at their most vulnerable, and requires patients to have absolute trust in their therapist while most therapists treat their patients with respect, sadly some cross the line between what is acceptable and appropriate and what is not.

"At the moment, anyone can call themselves a psychotherapist or counsellor and begin treating patients without any formal training, or sticking to any code of conduct whatsoever. Even when a therapist is struck off the register for one therapy, there is nothing to stop them from applying to practice under a different register, or practicing under no register at all.

"Derek Gale has been legally banned from practicing as an arts therapist after years of abuse towards vulnerable patients in his care, yet under current rules, there is nothing to stop him from continuing practicing as a counsellor or psychotherapist.

"The government has announced that it plans to bring psychotherapists and counsellors under state regulation, making it mandatory for these practitioners to be on one main register. We urge the government to forge ahead with these plans in order to give patients the protection that they deserve."


(1) Unlike doctors and nurses, most psychological therapists are not centrally regulated by a state body. Currently talking therapists have over 77 different codes of practice and there are approximately 33 registers for counselors, and all of these have different codes and complaints procedures. Adherence is voluntary and if an individual is discredited by one body they can either just join another or practice independently.


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