A British psychotherapist was “reckless,” “disrespectful,” “dogmatic” and “unprofessional” in trying to turn a homosexual patient heterosexual, a hearing has concluded.

Last week, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy found Christian counselor Lesley Pilkington guilty of professional malpractice. after she let her “personal preconceived views about gay lifestyle and sexual orientation … affect her professional relationship in a way that was prejudicial.”

The saga entered the public eye in February, 2010, with an investigative report in The Independent (London), in which gay journalist Patrick Strudwick went undercover to research the world of gay-to-straight therapy. In the article, Strudwick described his visits, in 2009, to two accredited UK counselors to receive reparative treatment.

According to Strudwick’s account, Mrs Pilkington suggested low self-esteem, a family history of Freemasonry and unacknowledged sexual abuse were to blame for his “same-sex attraction,” or “SSA.” He denied any of the three existed, but Pilkington was insistent, he said.

Strudwick has come under fire for deceiving Mrs Pilkington into believing he was an unhappy gay man who wanted to be cured of his homosexuality. Yet even those who support reparative therapy — a practice supported by little scientific evidence — are hard-pressed to justify such dubious practices as linking homosexual orientation to the spiritual influence of Freemasonry and insisting on the presence of sexual abuse. Strudwick’s pretence pales next to this pseudo-scientific charlatanry.

As a result of the hearing, the BACP suspended Pilkington’s licence, and she will have to undergo extensive retraining or risk losing it altogether. With the support of the Christian Legal Centre, however, she is expected to appeal the verdict.

The other psychiatrist in Patrick Strudwick’s investigation was Belfast-based therapist Dr Paul Miller, an associate of Richard Cohen. According to Strudwick, the General Medical Council dismissed his call for a hearing against Miller.

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