Counsellor who got €250,000 from clients broke ethics code

Counsellor who got €250,000 from clients broke ethics code

Irish Times Friday, June 13, 2008

RÓISÍN INGLE

A COUNSELLOR who received payments of up to €250,000 from her clients has been accused by a regulatory authority for the sector of “seriously, flagrantly and frequently” violating the organisation’s code of ethics.

The NAPCP (National Association for Pastoral Counselling and Psychotherapy) said Claire Hoban had brought the industry body into disrepute while working as a therapist at Roebuck Consulting Ltd, formerly known as Roebuck Counselling Centre, in Rathgar, Co Dublin.

Following an investigation into Ms Hoban, the NAPCP said it was withdrawing the accreditation it had given both her and Roebuck Consulting Ltd.

Controversy surrounding the centre emerged last October when some of its former clients complained that they had given sums of up to €250,000 to Ms Hoban in return for what the director of Roebuck Consulting Ltd, Bernie Purcell, described as “life mentoring” services.

The NAPCP subsequently appointed an ethics committee with an external chairperson to consider the complaints against the company and Ms Hoban.

In its report, the committee criticised practices at Roebuck where clients were charged counselling fees a year in advance and were pressured to enrol as students in a counselling training course.

It also said the multidisciplinary role adopted by Ms Hoban of “counsellor, teacher, life coach, mentor, potential business partner, fees collector and family therapist” amounted to a conflict of interest that breached the NAPCP’s code of ethics.

John Hughes of the NAPCP, which was founded in 1963 as a certifying agency for counsellors and psychotherapists, said the board would now be circulating its findings on the Roebuck centre. “We have no power to stop them so we are taking all steps to alert relevant authorities including the gardaí and psychotherapy and counselling bodies,” he said.

In a letter, the NAPCP has praised the “courage and determination” of complainants and congratulated them on “the firm stand you took on behalf of all of us involved in counselling and psychotherapy”.

Solicitor Jeanne Boyle, acting for support group Sore (Survivors of Roebuck Experiences), said the group was delighted by the NAPCP’s response. “On behalf of the members of Sore I would like to express our gratitude for the thorough investigation and also to encourage anyone else who has been a victim of Roebuck to step forward,” she said.

It is understood that despite resigning from her post last October, Ms Hoban continues to work at the centre in Rathgar.

The Irish Times yesterday attempted to contact the centre, Ms Hoban and Ms Purcell for comment but was unsuccessful.

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