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Thursday, 12 April, 2001, 17:43 GMT 18:43 UK
Psychologist staged pub therapy
The therapy session took place in a pub
A psychologist has been disciplined for conducting a therapy session in a pub.

The British Psychological Society (BPS) ruled that Andrew Walton had breached its code of conduct.

He was severely reprimanded following a BPS disciplinary committee hearing in London.

The hearing was told that there was concern about the about the venue where Walton, who works in Coventry, had carried out a counselling session.

Walton, who will be able to continue to practice, was found to have failed to maintain "proper professional boundaries" and to take responsibility for setting up "appropriate therapeutic intervention".

Chairman Dr Bertie Ellis said the BPS was concerned that he had failed to maintain control of his relationship with his patient and had conducted the session in a venue where privacy and confidentiality would be compromised.

Counsel for the BPS, Louise Brooks, described how the psychologist had a drink with his patient, who was suffering from stress at work, in a pub on March 28, 1999.

Summarising the patient's letter to the BPS, Miss Brooks said: "The complainant says Mr Walton suggested that due to a lack of time, because he was working away from home, they met at the venue half way between the practice and her home.

"They met at a petrol station off the M42 and drove to a local pub.

"Mr Walton had a glass of red wine, she had a coke, and they discussed her difficulties with her employer.

"The session lasted at least two hours."


Miss Brooks told the hearing about a letter that Walton had written in response to the complaint.

In it he claimed he had met the women in a pub solely for her benefit.

He said she was suffering from stress and may not have driven all the way to Coventry.

He also denied drinking alcohol, and claimed that the patient had flirted with him.

"He states he said she was an attractive woman but he could not get involved personally or in a legal dispute with her employers.

"He claimed her attitude changed markedly and she became hostile.

"At this point, he alleged, she said she did not want to see him any longer."

Miss Brooks added: "He makes a number of allegations about the complainant, including that she was doing it for monetary gain."

Doctor Susan Saltmore, who was on the investigatory committee which recommended the case be brought before the BPS, said in her experience it was highly unusual to counsel a patient in a pub.

She said the only circumstance where it might be appropriate was if a patient was being treated for a disorder such as social anxiety.

Walton's barrister Andrew Hockton said that in retrospect his client realised going to a pub was an error of judgement and he should have cancelled the appointment.

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