November 2023: Jonathan Hoban, Reference No: 00737652 Registrant ID:62797
The Professional Conduct Panel, consisting of […] met on […] remotely via Microsoft Teams to consider the complaint made by […] (Complainant) against Jonathan Hoban (Member), a British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) individual member.
In attendance were […] and […] of BACP, and […] (Clerk to the Panel).
The Complainant was not in attendance. The Member was in attendance but not represented.
1. The Complainant has complained about Jonathan Hoban, […] (the Member).
2. The Member and Complainant had a call in early January Year 2, followed by several therapy sessions during January Year 2. The final session was on 31 January Year 2 . The Complainant was due to have a further session on 3 February Year 2, but the Member cancelled it at short notice. The Complainant then informed the Member that he was ending the therapeutic relationship and for a refund of the sessions he had already paid for.
3. The Member agreed to refund the Complainant […]. He gave a number of promises to make the payment, which he failed to fulfil. He finally refunded the Complainant in April Year 2.
4. The Complainant said the Member re-scheduled all five of his sessions for various reasons. The Complainant wanted to meet the Member and use his ‘walk and talk’ method, but never managed to do so as the Member also changed the format of the sessions to Skype. The Complainant cannot say whether the reasons and excuses the Member gave were true or not, but he struggled to believe them all. The Complainant described a lack of care from the Member in not sticking to any agreed appointment times or the agreed format of the sessions, with the Member showing ‘scant regard for the sanctity of the session times a client agrees’.
5. The Member reportedly tried to rearrange the Complainant’s planned 3 February Year 2 session, at which point the Complainant declined an alternative appointment and asked the Member to refund the […] he had paid in advance. The Member apologised and agreed to refund the Complainant by 5 February Year 2.
6. The Member failed to refund the money by 5 February Year 2 and, when chased by the Complainant, provided a number of excuses and promised further payment dates, which were also missed until payment was made, in two instalments in April Year 2.
7. The Complainant has provided copies of emails and WhatsApp screenshots in support of his complaint. He also confirmed that on 14 April Year 2 that the Member had refunded the […] in two […] instalments over the previous 7 days.
1.1 The Member provided therapeutic services to the Complainant from 10 January Year 2.
1.2 On 10 January Year2:
(i) at 14.27 the Member messaged the Complainant asking to delay the start of their session.
(ii) at 14.33 the member asked the Complainant to reschedule the session to 11 January Year 2 due to an ‘oversight’.
1.3 On 13 January Year 2 the Member and Complainant agreed a session at 13.00 on 14 January Year 2, to be by Skype rather than face to face at the Member’s request as he said he was recovering […].
1.4 On 20 January Year 2 at 08.02, the Member messaged the Complainant rescheduling their session that day to the next day because of a burst water pipe.
1.5 On 21 January Year 2 at 10.28, the Member rearranged the session from a face-to-face to a Skype session due to the burst pipe.
1.6 On Sunday 26 January Year 2, when the Complainant asked for confirmation of whether they were meeting on Monday or Tuesday, the Member asked to reschedule to Thursday 30 January Year 2 due to […].
1.7 On Thursday 30 January Year 2 at 09.18, the Member messaged the Complainant asking to reschedule their session to the following day due to ‘an emergency’.
1.8 On Friday 31 January Year 2, the Member confirmed he would see the Complainant at 11.00 when they had agreed 13.00.
1.9 On 3 February Year 2, the Member messaged the Complainant asking to reschedule to the following day due to a ‘diary error’.
1.10 The Member thereby failed to meet professional standards, including in particular by acting in a way which was inconsistent with the following paragraphs of the Ethical Framework for the Counselling Professions 2018:
12. We will do everything we can to develop and protect our clients’ trust.
91. We will take responsibility for our own wellbeing as essential to sustaining good practice with our clients by:
d. keeping a healthy balance between our work and other aspects of life.
2.1 On 3 February Year 2:
(i) the Complainant messaged the Member cancelling future sessions, requested an […] refund for the 3 February Year 2 session and provided his bank details for payment.
(ii) the Member messaged the Complainant undertaking to pay the refund by Wednesday morning, 5 February Year 2. The Member failed to do so. Explaining his accountant had advised it must ‘go through the books’ and would be expedited in four weeks.
2.2 On Friday 13 March Year 2, replying to a prompt from the Complainant, the Member emailed undertaking to pay ‘[..] this coming Friday and the remaining […] on Monday’. The Member failed to do so.
2.3 On 23 March Year 2, replying to a prompt from the Complainant, the Member emailed undertaking to pay […] per week ‘from this Friday’. The Member failed to do so.
2.4 The Member thereby failed to meet professional standards, including in particular by acting in a way which was inconsistent with the following paragraphs of the Ethical Framework for the Counselling Professions 2018:
12. We will do everything we can to develop and protect our clients’ trust.
3.1 In January Year 2 the Member provided services to the Complainant, a member of the public, without adequate insurance cover.
3.2 The Member thereby failed to meet professional standards, including in particular by acting in a way which was inconsistent with the following paragraphs of the Ethical Framework for the Counselling Professions 2018:
19. We will be covered by adequate insurance when providing services directly or indirectly to the public.
Documents and evidence before the Panel
The Panel was provided with the following written materials:
• The complaint and supporting papers provided to the Investigation and Assessment Committee.
• The formal response submitted by the Member Complained Against.
• Further information provided by the parties.
• The relevant Ethical Frameworks.
• The Professional Conduct Procedure 2018.
The Panel read all of the above, then questioned, and listened to the verbal evidence provided by the member .
The Panel had to consider the following:
• The allegations made.
• The written and verbal evidence.
• What weight should be attached to the evidence.
• On balance, whether the complaints should be upheld.
There were no preliminary issues. The complainant was not in attendance, but a professional conduct panel on 9 September Year 3 had decided that it would be appropriate to continue in the Complainant’s absence and therefore the Panel did not revisit this issue.
On balance, having fully considered the above, the Panel made the following findings:
The Panel first considered the factual allegations set out in 1.1. to 1. 9. It noted that these allegations were supported by contemporaneous emails and messages between the Member and the Complainant and were satisfied that the allegations were proved to the required degree. The Panel noted that in his oral submissions, the Member did not dispute these allegations and acknowledged that at the relevant time, in Year 2, he had been extremely […]. With hindsight, the Member agreed […] and that he should have stopped seeing clients. He acknowledged the impact his actions would have had on the Complainant and accepted that the frequent changes in dates and times of sessions would have been destabilising for the Complainant and affected his trust in the Member.
Following its findings that allegations 1.1 – 1.9. were factually proved, the Panel was satisfied that the Member had failed to meet professional standards as set out in allegation 1.10. While changes in appointment were sometimes necessary the number and frequency of the changes in this case had been excessive and had clearly impacted on the Complainant. It appeared that this situation was primarily caused by the Member’s personal circumstances at this time which had impacted on his professional role and the panel noted that the Member had acknowledged this and agreed that, with hindsight, he should have stopped seeing clients […].
Allegation 1 was, therefore, found proved in its entirety.
The Panel took into account the Member’s submissions that, although he had refunded the Complainant […] as agreed, it had taken longer than expected to do so. It noted the Member’s explanation that he had been having […] and a change in […]. The Member also explained that his accountant had required him to follow a specific process for making the refund, which had added to the delay.
The Panel was satisfied that allegations 2.1 – 2.4 were upheld. It was clear from the emails sent between the Member and the Complainant at the time that the Member had given various assurances to the Complainant as to when the refund would be made but then failed to adhere to them. The evidence showed that he had initially agreed to make the payment by 5 February Year 2, then by mid-March with the payment finally being made in April Year 2. The delay, and the missed deadlines for payment, had clearly impacted on the Complainant and eroded their trust in the Member. While the Panel acknowledged the member’s […] at this time, it felt that the Member’s failure to be open with the Complainant and to provide a realistic deadline for payment was unprofessional.
The Panel took into account that the Member had expressed remorse for the delay in making payment, and that payment had ultimately been made. Nevertheless, the Panel was satisfied that the failure to refund the Complainant within the timescale agreed, was a breach of the Professional Standards and in particular paragraph 12 of the Ethical Framework.
Allegation 2 was, therefore, found proved in its entirety.
The Panel took into account the Member’s submissions that […] in Year 2 had been […] due to […] with the result that he had “dropped the ball” with regard to administrative issues, including insurance.
The Panel noted that the member had provided a copy of his professional insurance from 4 March Year 2 to 3 March Year 3, but this did not cover the period in January Year 2 when the Member was providing counselling to the Complainant. It also noted that in his preliminary response, the Member had stated that his insurance had expired at the beginning of January Year 1 due to his not receiving the reminder. In the circumstances the Panel determined, on balance, that the Member had not had the necessary insurance in place at the relevant time.
Allegation 3 is therefore found proved.
Accordingly, the Panel was unanimous in its decision that there had been a failure to comply with the Professional Standards. Specifically, that the Member had acted contrary to paragraphs 12, 19, and 91 of the Ethical Framework for Good Practice in Counselling and Psychotherapy 2018.
The Panel reconvened on […] to consider what, if any, sanction is appropriate given that the Member has been given the opportunity to provide written submissions on sanction.
The Member had not provided any submissions in respect of sanction.
The Panel reminded itself of its findings above. It also considered the guidance within BACP Protocol on Sanctions (PR14) and reminded itself of its powers of sanction under Article 5.12 of the BACP Professional Conduct Procedure 2018.
The Panel agreed that the Member’s conduct that it had found proven warranted the following sanction:
1. Within 28 days of the date of this letter, the Member is to provide the BACP with a personal statement describing his learning and changes to practise as a result of this complaint, in particular reflecting on:
a. what went wrong in this case and the harm caused to the Complainant;
b. what he has learned from the complaint, with particular regard to the importance of:
i. setting and maintaining professional boundaries, including, but not limited to, time keeping and keeping appointments;
ii. self-care and recognising when it is necessary to take a break in one’s own and the clients’ interests;
iii. financial propriety with clients.
iv. Maintaining the trust of the client in the therapeutic relationship.
c. changes he has made to his practice to prevent repetition.
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