Thursday, 1 July 2010

Counselling Survivors of Sexual abuse

Ealing Abbey Counselling Service is advertising a course of counselling for victims of childhood sexual abuse.
One in four people have experienced childhood sexual abuse or negect [sic]... Are you one of them?

Ealing Abbey Counselling Service is running a new group with you in mind.
This mixed group for adult survivors of abuse will offer a safe and confidential space to gain support. It is open to people of all sexual preferences who want to come to terms with childhood sexual trauma.

The effects of childhood sexual abuse emotional abuse or neglect can be toxic. These can include; low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, fear of intimacy, shame - guilt, substance abuse, social withdrawal, numbness and an inability to form trusting relationships.

Nice of them to start trying to clear up a mess the abbey has contributed so much to creating. Ealing Abbey itself has probably created hundreds of such victims. No shortage of potential demand for such services then!

And also nice of them to describe how serious are the effects of child sexual abuse. Perhaps they can take account of that when they find themselves defending another civil suit concerning child sexual abuse by one or other of the priests. Bound to happen sometime soon.

Perhaps they can also put their house in order and not make any further contribution to that 1-in-4 statistic. Having a written, published and effective safeguarding policy of the Abbey and Parish would be a start (there isn't one published or referred to on the Abbey website yet), and get the School's child protection policy into a fit state.

Until then, I can't think of a worse place to run such a course. I've nothing against Richard Simpson and Maja Zivkovic, who are running the course. I've no reason to think they are not well-qualified and experienced counsellors. The problem is that to hold such a course on premises owned and run by the Abbey, when child sexual abuse has been a particular problem there and when there are not yet adequate safeguarding arrangements in place seems to me to be the height of irresponsibility.

This is the objective of the course.
The emphasis of this group is to be therapeutic and supportive. Over the course of the four weeks the group will explore issues around self-esteem, anger, assertiveness and trauma whilst also providing positive tools to help build and strengthen relationships.
I very much hope that they do not take any clients who suffered childhood sexual abuse at the hands of any priests or teachers at Ealing Abbey, and preferably not at the hands of anybody within the Catholic Church as a whole.

To accept such clients would leave them open to accusations of conflict of interest. Increasing a victim's self-esteem may have the result of activating a willingness to take action against the perpetrators and those who have sheltered them.

Overall, this is a staggeringly bad idea, and reflects extremely badly on the judgement of whoever authorised it.


  1. They are charging £150 per person.

    This is a cynical attempt to make money from the misery of the victims of childhood sexual abuse.

    The Abbot should be ashamed of himself.

  2. Perhaps they will offer a special discount to former St Benedict's boys who were abused by monks at the school.

  3. Consider (i) the history of child abuse that is known about at the setting. (ii) The refusal of the setting and its management to meet with concerned former parents and pupils about current bizarre child protection policies. (iii) The amazing disappearing trustee (Chillman) and the potential importance of this occurrence. (iv) The silence of the Abbott and his fellow trustees on almost everything. (v) The Gallic shrug response of Vincent Nicholls to the abuse matters put before him. (vi) The utterly vacuous input from Mr Peter Turner Diocesan Child Protection Officer of Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service which indicates we have a man who is out of his depth and ill equipped for the difficult waters in which he finds himself. He seems to assume the impression of the last person who sat on him.

    Taken together it is perfectly obscene that this “Fred Carno” operation in West London is either educating children, or quite unbelievably ‘counselling’ abuse victims. There is more than a hint of surrealism about it all. Add to this the powerless ‘authorities,' the bomb proof board of Trustees, the disengaged parents, and I imagine Abbott Shipperlee thinks he is impregnable.

  4. More on Richard Simpson here:

    Richard Simpson BABCP, (UKCP registered, BACP and BASRT accredited)

    Richard is a psychotherapist, psychosexual therapist and couples counsellor, clinical supervisor and EMDR trauma specialist. He also works with adolescents. He is an accredited BACP and UKCP registered psychotherapist. He is also a member of the BACP (British Association of Counselling & Psychotherapy), British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies and is accredited by BASRT (British Association of Sexual & Relationship Therapists). He is also a Level 3 EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation & Reprocessing) trauma specialist. He also specializes in working with adolescent clients.

  5. Any organisation considering offering counselling normally does so in a building that has no religious icons or symbolism in or near the venue. I once attended a day offered by a well known American psychotherapist who specialised in addressing child sexual abuse in adulthood. The promotional material for the event explained that it was to be held in a venue owned by the Baptist Church which was an office block void of religious symbolism with no churches in sight. Not even the name of the building hinted who the owners might be. The organiser explained that many of the attendees had been abused by members of their respective churches and therefore it is important to choose a location that had no religious associations. The organisers were also unconnected with any religion – just former victims of abuse.

    And for my treatment I stuck with clinical psychology and a support group who understood the language and the gaps in conversation without requiring the detail of an explanation.

  6. However well qualified the therapists are there is still no excuse for holding this group session on premises owned by the Abbey and charging the poor victims of abuse to attend. I understand another group is being planned. Disgraceful.