Unintended harm (iatrogenesis) in the therapeutic space
Please note this is a fee paying event £6 if booked via Meetup and £8 on the door on the evening.
This talk focuses on the ethical and philosophical imperative ‘do no harm’ in psychotherapy, also known as unintended harm (iatrogenesis). Around 10% of the public say they feel harmed by attending psychotherapy. This significantly rises for marginalised groups. Between 27%-40% of therapist’s report experiencing their personal therapy as harmful. The trend of complaints to all professional registration bodies is upwards.
The practice of naming and shaming those who get the delicate balance of good
work vs making perceived errors wrong is causing distress, which risks driving an open and honest debate underground. This means the very ethical frameworks or codes of ethics meant to protect people could themselves have an unintended impact.
Philosophically, we are the good and bad therapist too: a practitioner involved in unintended harm in many ways harms theirselves. This talk considers the exploration of unintended harm as a sign of good rather than poor practice. Yet, the topic seems rarely discussed in trainings or openly amongst therapists. Here, we will create a safe space to explore what the public, therapists and complaint trends, seem to be telling us. We will also discuss the Psychotherapy & Counselling Union’s advice regarding what to, and not do, if you receive a complaint.
Dr Philip Cox (PsychD) is an HCPC registered Chartered Psychologist and BACP (Accred) member with over 20 years of clinical experience in Primary care, Secondary care and specialist services. Philip is a Psychotherapy & Counselling Union executive committee member, leading on professional complaints. He is also a BPS Psychotherapy Section executive committee member and the e-letter editor. His research publications, conference presentations and lectures focus on unintended harm within psychotherapy, and how to support professionals who seemingly misjudge the delicate balance between good and less helpful practice. Philip is a passionate advocate for social activism and supporting marginalised groups, which includes therapists who experience difficulties – Philip’s philosophy is that by supporting therapists, we support clients.