UKCP's response to BACP's appeal decision regarding Lesley Pilkington

Media release
23 May 2012

It's wrong to use psychotherapy for a religious agenda
UKCP's response to BACP's appeal decision regarding Lesley Pilkington

UKCP welcomes the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy's (BACP) decision to dismiss the appeal lodged by Lesley Pilkington. We wish to state once again that for a UKCP member to offer or conduct psychotherapy or psychotherapeutic counselling with the express aim of altering 'sexual orientation' is an ethical offence.

Janet Weisz, Chair of UKCP, commenting on the case said:
 "UKCP has said all along that reparative (conversion) therapy that seeks to change sexual orientation is profoundly unethical. While we appreciate that clients will seek therapy to explore issues around sexuality, for one of our members to offer or conduct psychotherapy or psychotherapeutic counselling with the express aim of altering 'sexual orientation' would be a breach of our ethical code and guidance documents. We are pleased and relieved that, after a long and thorough process, BACP has reached what is undoubtedly the right decision."

The Revd Canon, Adrian M Rhodes, who is President of the European Association of Psychotherapy, a UKCP member and former UKCP Vice-chair, said:
"I welcome the decision of the BACP to dismiss the appeal lodged by Lesley Pilkington. Both psychotherapy/counselling and the religious quest, are powerful explorations of what it is to be human, in all its richness and diversity. They have much to offer each other and the interplay between these fields is profoundly enriching and enlightening. However, to use either activity as a covert way of achieving the aims of the other is both unworthy and unprofessional. It is as wrong to pursue through psychotherapy, a religious agenda which predetermines homosexuality as wrong, as it would be to use psychotherapy to define religious faith as pathological state to be eradicated."

UKCP does not consider homosexuality, or bisexuality, or transsexual and transgendered states to be pathologies, mental disorders or indicative of developmental arrest. These are not symptoms to be treated by psychotherapists, in the sense of attempting to change or remove them. Homosexuality does not have 'causes'. Society as a whole needs to stop the search for 'causes' and the inadvertent pathologisation of what is neither immoral, unnatural nor pathological.

UKCP has taken a strong line challenging organisations and individuals who seek to promote reparative therapy and we will continue to do so in light of the outcome of this case.


Notes to Editors:

  1. The United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) is recognised as the leading professional body for the education, training and accreditation of psychotherapists and psychotherapeutic counsellors. We represent training organisations and over 7,000 individual therapists - working privately or in the NHS or voluntary sector - offering a wide variety of psychotherapeutic approaches or modalities. As part of our commitment to protecting the public, we work to improve access to psychotherapy and psychotherapeutic counselling, to support and disseminate research, to improve standards and to respond effectively to complaints against our members.
  2. UKCP's full statement on reparative therapy along with our Guidance on the Practice of Psychological Therapies that Pathologise and/or seek to Eliminate or Reduce Same Sex Attraction and examples of our media work in this area, can be accessed here:
  3. Lesley Pilkington, a member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) was investigated and sanctions were taken against her in 23 May 2011 following an investigation by BACP.
  4. Patrick Strudwick's article about Lesley Pilkington was published in The Guardian: She tried to make me 'pray away the gay', 27 May 11:
  5. The European Association of Psychotherapy (EAP) represents 128 organisations (28 national professional bodies, 17 European-wide modality associations for psychotherapy) from 41 European countries and by that more than 120.000 psychotherapists. Membership is also open for individual psychotherapists. Based on the "Strasbourg Declaration on Psychotherapy of 1990" the EAP represents high training standards for a scientifically based profession and stands for the free and independent practice of psychotherapy.

For media enquiries, contact:

Sandra Scott, UKCP Communications Manager, 020 7014 9973.
We can provide psychotherapists for interview on this and other stories.


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