Opening dialogue about abuse





Earlier this month, my deeply wise and very beautiful friend, Guilaine, spoke of her experience of the clinical psychology community and about behaviours that I consider abusive.

You can read of her experience here. As this is my response, I recommend you listen to what she has to say. I note the sparsity of comment, but I also note that it has taken me this long to finally shift into ‘spoken’ dimensions . Some issues are so deep they are rendered pre-verbal and require time for processing, for words to work their way to the surface and expression.

And my response…?


Walk away, Guilaine.

Sack the entire clinical psychology profession for profoundly unethical behaviour.

Tell them they can stick their profession where the sun don’t shine.

NO-ONE has the ‘right’ to treat anyone this way, let alone a ‘therapeutic’ profession one of their own students. Is this how they teach clinical psychologists to behave in the face of social and psychological cruelty?  They can go fuck themselves!


Walk away, Guilaine.

We both know they’ll never accept you, no matter how hard you try. You’ve lost before you’ve even started, in a rigged game, using rules that see only what is wrong with you, my beautiful and precious friend, whilst willfully refusing to acknowledge their own, far worse, failings.

The honour I see in you, Guilaine, requires that you walk away. You cannot be a part of this hypocrisy. We both know that, but there are so many more reasons for walking!


Walk away for your children.

To stay is to model acceptance of abusive behaviour. That is NOT an acceptable lesson to teach any mentally healthy child, without or within.


Walk away for our future.

The single wealthy white misogynistic male psychological narrative is cruel to all who fail to conform to their profoundly blinkered perspective. It’s a splitting narrative, which means it can only wound and harm.  True healing can only be found in the ‘unity’ of multi-narratives. Their ‘way’ is always past-oriented. Let it not be our future!


Walk away, Guilaine, our world needs your very obvious talents elsewhere.

If ever there was a time our psychological narratives needed practitioners able to facilitate excluded social narratives, it is now. You are eminently qualified for this work. We have HUGE communities across the world who need the kind of therapeutic help you are a natural for. To continue to crucify yourself on this academic cross of ‘professional acceptance’ is criminally irresponsible, both personally and socially.

You’re not alone. There are others walking away too. We see the same things you see, on our own terms and in our own way, but the pattern is unmistakable. It’s time to focus on solutions – we know the problems from the inside-out – it’s time to stop feeding the figure of the problem. Now we know what we don’t want, it’s time to focus on what we do. Those are future-oriented multi-narratives and women are born midwives. You tick all the boxes in ‘required specifications’ for such transformative work because you understand the depth and urgency of our need.


Walk away, Guilaine.

If you have clients, discuss this with them. You will be changing the therapeutic contract and your clients must be invited to reconsider their therapeutic alliance with you. It is a matter of free will and choice – there has been enough past arbitrary decision-making about clients and it needs to stop. When we take our power back, we model the process for others and give ‘unconscious permission’ to do the same. Those who are unable to change will leave, those who want to learn how to do this themselves will stay. These will be your new teachers – just follow where they lead you. They’ll show you where the interruptions and blockages are occurring – the more diverse the group, the more likely workable ‘answers’ will be found.


Walk away and come join us ‘out’-laws.

I have skills that would help get you off the ground, if you’re interested. My Gestalt training was a ‘private’ creation outside academia; student-led, experiential, facilitators learning as they went along with the help of first rate supervision. It also included the business side of setting up a practice, so I’m not suggesting anything I haven’t already done myself. By the time I retired, I’d spent 12 years in private practice. My first thoughts in your case, however, are around crowd-funding. Given the potential value of your work to the mental health of all our communities, crowd-funding would be appropriate.

As for qualifications, Life has already qualified you – you know more about wounds/wounding than any therapeutic training could teach. All you need, in my opinion, are contemporary working tools that enable/empower your ability to midwife the creativity necessary for us to get out of this nightmare, inclusive to all those who choose it.


Walk away, my friend.


Please stop hurting yourself. It’s cruel to you and its cruel to those of us who love you. It would be a healing kindness for all of us, but especially you, if you walk away. Give yourself permission to shine instead.


Remember, fear is only thirty seconds deep. Those are the first five knee-trembling steps… after that, you don’t stop. The trembling wears off as you get into your stride.


Just walk away, Guilaine… and keep walking.


My deepest gratitude to Guilaine for her willingness to engage with this. Here is her response to the above:


My Dear friend,
You have touched me in a way that I cannot put into words. And I want to say thank you.
Thank you for caring enough to ask me to walk way, but…
I will not walk away.
I am not ready to walk away.
I am not willing to walk away.
Not without a fight.
When treated unfairly, I fight for justice.
That is what I do.
This is Black women the world over are forced to do.
That is how I have survived.
That is how generations before me have survived.
I must honour them too.
I could never walk away without knowing I tried to make right the wrong done to me.
Is some of me dying in the process?
But, also some of me is coming alive.
 Alive to the suffering that is all around us.
To the myriads of ways human beings can be cruel to those who are different.
I am learning all about power.
And the inherent sense of weakness and inadequacy it serves to cover.
I’ve learnt how people can be tortured.
 In public and killed slowly all while business goes on as usual.
 I’ve learnt that closing our eyes is the way some of us embody empathy. And professionalism.
I am learning about life. And its fuckery.
These are part of universe’ gifts to me.
This is the wisdom and lived experience I draw from when I support others.
This is the lived experience I can instantly recognise when people come to me for help.
Sometimes complete strangers in the street.
So for them too, I will not walk away.
I am not a walker. I am a fighter.
Even my name means ‘the one who fights’. Perhaps another gift from the Universe.
I will not walk away.
I never have.
And I hope, through all my imperfections and mistakes as a parent, that my children can learn some things are worth fighting for.
They can be reminded that ideals are worth more than possessions.
And to be absolutely clear, I am not fighting for clinical psychology. I am fighting for decency. I am fighting for my right to equality. I am fighting for my right to treated as a human being.
And the rights of others too.
I am not disposable. And therefore not someone who can be bullied into walking away.
Thanks Dearest friend but I shall stay.
But, I welcome you on my journey.



It seems appropriate to pause here; to keep company and stay present with two very different realities emerging from separate root systems, each with unique personal responses to the issue of abusive behaviour in psychological disciplines.

It is a pause to appreciate, respect and honour our differences; it is not the same as stopping. Our conversation has not reached any kind of closure… not by a very long way.

watching others suffer

One response »

  1. I don’t have the words but this is a great post. I’d have said walk away but then reading your friend’s response, I understand the deep desire not to leave without a fight. Tough decision. Thank you for sharing.

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