October 2023: Aaron Watson, Reference No 00831117 , Registrant ID 384386
This outcome was reached by agreement.
Aaron Watson, a BACP member agrees to the following outcome of the investigation into a complaint of professional misconduct under reference PCP[…].
1.1 Mr Watson has been a BACP member since […]
1.2 Mr Watson […]
1.3 On 6th June Year 1 the Referrer reported Aaron Watson, an individual member of BACP, who is a colleague of hers, due to the fact he was Facebook Messaging her on 3 May Year 1 during the course of a client session. The Referrer was concerned with how the Member conducts his sessions with clients as:
a. on 3 May Year 1 between 19:07 and 20:22 he messaged her a number of times and then she realised this was taking place during a session with a client;
b. within that messaging the Member advised the Referrer that the ‘session feel like forever’, and he cannot focus and has to distract himself.
The Referrer states that the Member also advised the Referrer on another occasion within messaging that he had been called out by a client for being distracted in session and looking at something else on the screen.
The Association decided to refer the matter under the Professional Conduct Procedure to the Practice Review track.
2.1 Mr Watson makes the following admissions which the BACP accepts.
On 3 May Year 1, the Member engaged in electronic messaging with a third party during a therapeutic session with a client, and therefore failed to make the client the primary focus of the session.
3.1 Mr Watson puts forward the following in mitigation, which has been taken into account by the Investigation & Assessment Committee (“IAC”) in deciding the appropriate outcome:
The Member states that he was not bored but was expressing his concern about issues he was having with focusing. He states that he has discussed this with both his supervisor and manager at […]. He states that he does put his clients at the centre of his work. He states that he has researched ways to improve his attention and has cut down on caffeinated coffee and tea drinking. He has taken on more online work and less telephone work […]. He states that his goal is now to get […]
4.1 The issues identified and admitted by Mr Watson amounted to breaches of the Ethical Framework for the Counselling Professions 2018, in particular paragraph 7 (We will make each client the primary focus of our attention and our work during our sessions together).
4.2 One of the aims of the Professional Conduct Procedure is to protect members of the public. The IAC, in considering what sanction may be appropriate in the circumstances of this case, has taken into account the interests of public protection.
4.3 In relation to the findings above, the IAC considers it appropriate that Mr Watson should:
Within 28 days of the date of this agreement, provide to BACP a reflective statement setting out:
• His understanding of how his actions in this matter breached professional standards.
• Strategies he has implemented to ensure that his practice meets professional standards, with particular reference to ensuring that the client is his primary focus in sessions.
• His understanding of the impact of his conduct on the client, the counselling profession and BACP.
• Reference to relevant training and/or reading he has undertaken since this matter arose.
• Evidence that he has discussed his reflections with his supervisor.
4.4 Mr Watson agrees that this agreement may be published by the BACP.
4.5 Mr Watson agrees that he will not act in any way inconsistent with this agreement such as, for example, by denying the findings in paragraph 2 above.
4.6 If Mr Watson acts in a way which is inconsistent with this agreement, his membership will be terminated. Such a decision will be published.
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