This is a topic that comes up again once in a while. In a lot of countries counsellor or coach or therapist are not protected titles. What it basically comes down to is that anybody can start a practice or an online business as a therapist. It is not illegal and many clients are not aware of this.
It came to the forefront of my mind again as I am following the case of Keith Bakker this week. For the non-Dutch, he is a Dutch therapist who works with addicted people [ a lot of teenagers] to get them clean again. He has his own clinic and had a tv programme. He has now been accused of sexual harassment of several clients.
In his defence he has always been straight about the fact that he is not a qualified therapist or counsellor. He was an ex-addict who used his experience to help others. Sometimes those methods were extreme as he has admitted to taking clients home with him when he thought they needed it. And this is where the boundaries begin to blur.
[I will not go into the fact if I think he is guilty or not] The fact is that even for the laywers it is now confusing. He is not a qualified therapists so they cannot convict him of doing anything wrong as such and there is no licence to strike as he doesn’t have one. See the confussion? It is a very interesting case to follow and to see the outcome.
How can something like this be prevented? Or at least the chances of it happening made smaller? Counselling, therapist etc should be protected titles. And only used by somebody with the proper training. A clinic like this should not be able to open it’s doors without the proper papers and it’s therapists being trained. I am not saying Keith did not help a lot of people. Some people are natural healers, but still next to that he should have gone through the training as well.
Until that happens what can you look for as a client to protect yourself?
- · Look at what credentials [and evidence for those] a counsellor boasts. On my website I have put as many links as I can for the evidence of my schooling
- · Are they a member of a professional body? I am a member of the NAC [ Dutch counselling association]
- · Any mention of an ethical code on their website? And a way to complain if needed.
All this will help you to pick somebody who has gone through the training. If you are unsure ask them about it.
I hope this helps you find the therapist that suits you!