The Health Professions Council culture is one of confident dissociation and to visit their headquarters is to enter a toxic zone. In the street, eIpnosis delighted in the sunlight and warmth of the morning and the cycle race down Kennington Park Road of people on their way to work. And then there was the press photographer on the pavement outside the HPC trying to figure out who was a psycho and who a local, happily eIpnosis qualified. Entering through the glass paneled front doors (opened by the receptionist because they are always locked), is to pass through a virtual mincer in which the coherence of embodied experience is disassembled into tick-box categories. Language breaks down.

Four clients complained, JB, IJ, PC and JD. Hidden behind anonymity. Decisions on facts. What is at issue is conduct and competence. ‘Inappropriate’ behaviour. ‘The panel finds this particular is proved’. Proved/disproved 3a i, 3a ii. 3a iv, HPC registrants must keep proper notes. 'A son for his dad'. PC had not concocted evidence. 6a ii, 6a iii, 6b i and ii, 6c, 6d. Exchange of favours. 7a, 'Between 2001 and 2004, you read your clients bedtime stories at psychodrama workshops'.

Once inside huge silences open up. Waiting. Waiting fills out the day while the cogs and suits get their act together. When this started there were no leaves on the trees, it’s a miracle that any grow at all so close to this love lacuna. Today is the eighteenth day. We wait in silence. The panel of three men enter stage right. Seated to their right is the ‘judge’ who rules on procedural deviance. Across from the panel is the HPC’s counsel, who carries the burden of proof. Facing the panel is Mr Gale and his aide. The hearing transcript has 1,900 pages. Which facts have been proved?

‘Fitness to practise’ only concerns factual matters. Findings of fact. Controlled drugs. Inadequate notes. Inappropriate behaviour’. Structural boundaries. Clinical boundaries. Falling asleep during therapy. Mr Gale has a Cavalier Attitude. Misconduct. In the public gallery heads turn, smirking and smiling. Mr Gale had not read the HPC Standards document. Misconduct proved.

In a break Head of HPC Policy, Michael Guthrie is seen being introduced to, and chatting cheerily with the anonymities, he gives them his card. Six or eight of Derek Gale’s current or ex-clients are nearby, no one chats with them. A C4 news producer and one agency journo have shown up. HPC apparatchiks hover helpfully. No one asks who we are or why we are there.

‘The purpose of sanctions is not to punish’. Derek Gale qualified as drama therapist in 1980. HPC was founded in 2001. The purpose of sanctions - protect the public - protect public confidence in regulated professions - protect confidence in the HPC’s reputation as a regulator. Mr Gale also has ‘an ambiguous relation to truth’. The welfare of existing clients doesn’t appear to be on the HPC’s agenda.

For a third or fifth time, the panel of three leaves. The ‘judge’ reaches for his newspaper. The panel, procedurally refreshed, returns. An atmosphere builds. The following particulars amount to misconduct: 1(a)(ii), 1(a)(iii), 1(a)(iv), 1(a)(vi), 1(a)(vii), 1(a)(viii), 1(b)(i), 1(b)(ii), 2(b)(i), 2(b)(ii), 3(a)(ii), 3(a)(iv), 3(a)(v), 6(a)(i), 6(a)(ii), 6(e). Expectations start to run silently amok. A perfect storm of retribution? Is a head going to roll? Redemption seems to demand something be killed here. A working life? Or the lifework of another era? The Panel chair forgets to tell Mr Gale he has a right to appeal. The Decision: the Registrar is directed to strike Hirsch Derek Gale off the HPC register.

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This iconic Health Professions Council fitness to practise hearing was the first to feature a UK psychotherapist, Derek Hirsh Gale. Mr Gale, in practice for almost three decades, defended himself against allegations of exploitation and abuse of power.
All I have is a voice to undo the folded lie.
W.H. Auden
eIpnosis is edited, maintained and © Denis Postle 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009

Derek Hirsh Gale -
HPC Arts therapist Registrant: AS01092

An account of the last day of Health Professions Council Fitness to Practise Hearing: Allegation Number: FTP01170 by Denis Postle