Watch the Channel 4 News report about Lesley Pilkington, the Christian therapist who lost her appeal against suspension from the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy for her appalling practice:
Below, Channel 4’s Jon Snow interviews Mrs Pilkington:
Rightly or wrongly, the appeal verdict said nothing about the validity of conversion therapy or reparative therapy, per se. It focused on Lesley Pilkington’s misconduct entirely aside from the suggestion that therapy can change sexual orientation.
Pilkington’s Christian supporters disgrace themselves by condoning the blatant intrusion of highly questionable personal beliefs into therapeutic practice. Even conservative Anglican Peter Ould has harsh words for Christian Concern, the legal organization that continues to defend Pilkington, saying that CC is guilty of “wilful blindness to the clear evidence that LP is not a good counsellor” and that she showed a “basic disregard for the fundamentals of counselling practice.”
The conduct of journalist Patrick Strudwick continues to be an issue, as he clearly deceived Lesley Pilkington about his intentions. While accepting Strudwick as a legitimate client, the BACP nevertheless (in the original hearing) castigated him for his tactics.
But the ethical debate of “how far is too far” in investigative, undercover journalism aside, Strudwick’s conduct cannot be used to excuse Mrs Pilkington’s disgraceful behaviour. I can only wonder how much worse the situation would have been if a trusting client had received her advice and accepted, with no evidence, her insistence that a member of his own family had sexually abused him. I can only be thankful this therapist was outed before she could wreak real havoc with people’s lives.
Lastly, let’s lay to rest a widespread myth: This case had nothing to do Christian freedom, being biblical or upholding “traditional Christian teaching.” Ex-gay and anti-gay apologists have increasingly used this kind of rhetoric to justify extreme views and practices. Note how, in the interview, Pilkington even claims that the belief that Freemasonry encourages homosexuality is simply part of a “biblical framework.” It is not. Nor is conversion therapy a traditional Christian teaching, although as the BACP findings clearly state, the suspension was never about that issue anyway.
Read the BACP findings on Lesley Pilkington’s appeal hearing here.