Information was submitted for consideration under Article 12.6 of the Memorandum & Articles of Association.
A summary of the information disclosed is that on 7 October 2009, Ms Foss Ball was notified by way of letter by the Office Manager of the Professional Standards Department, that her application to become an Accredited Counsellor/Psychotherapist could not be processed any further and it was returned to her. This was because it appeared that Ms Foss Ball's application form had been completed by her supervisor, as the handwriting on the main body of her application was identical to the writing in her supervisor's report. In addition, it was alleged that information that Ms Foss Ball had provided in section 8.1.1 of her application form was taken directly from the website, www.personcare.org.
On 30 January 2013, following a further application that Ms Foss Ball submitted for Accreditation, a letter was sent to her by the Service Manager in Accreditation, notifying Ms Foss Ball that there were some inconsistencies within her application form and invited Ms Foss Ball to respond. Ms Foss Ball was advised that her previous application submitted in 2009 had been compared against her current application and it was apparent that there were substantial parts of her current application which were identical to parts of her 2009 application. In particular, it was alleged that information provided by Ms Foss Ball in paragraph 8.1.1 of her 2009 application, now paragraph 8.1 in her current application, was identical. Further, it was alleged that information Ms Foss Ball had provided in respect of her case study in paragraphs 8.2.4, 8.3.1 and 8.3.2 of her 2009 application, now paragraphs 9.1-9.6 in her current application, were identical with the exception of the date of the first sessions, the age and ethnicity of the client and the source of her stress.
Ms Foss Ball was invited to provide a written explanation for the matters that had been drawn to her attention and provided her response in a letter dated 12 February 2013. Ms Foss Ball explained that in relation to her application form submitted in 2009, she was unable to complete the application herself due to an injury to her hand and therefore asked her supervisor to complete it on her behalf. Ms Foss Ball stated that she did not clarify this when she received notification that her application had been withdrawn from consideration because at the time, she was dealing with some family issues. Ms Foss Ball further advised that she copied the information from the website because she mistakenly believed that she was being asked to provide a written description of her working model rather than her own interpretation. Finally, Ms Foss Ball stated that the case studies that she referenced related to two different clients.
Ms Foss Ball was informed by letter, dated 26 February 2013 by the Director of Marketing, Communications and Membership, that her application for accreditation had been disqualified from the process as her behaviour was not congruent with the declaration of honesty signed in both applications.
The declaration of honesty contained within both Ms Foss Ball's application forms states as follows: "I declare that as far as I know, my application contains only true information. I understand that if any incorrect, incomplete or plagiarised information is discovered, my accreditation may be disqualified".
The nature of the information raised questions about the suitability of Ms Foss Ball's continuing membership of this Association and suggested that her actions have brought, or may yet bring, not only this Association but also the reputations of counselling/psychotherapy into disrepute. The information further suggests that there may have been a serious breach, or breaches, of the Ethical Framework for Good Practice in Counselling and Psychotherapy and it raised concerns about the following in particular:
- Ms Foss Ball's actions have brought or may yet bring not only this Association but the reputations of Counselling and Psychotherapy into disrepute;
- Ms Foss Ball's actions are incompatible with the actions of a member of BACP;
- Ms Foss Ball's actions suggest breaches of the Ethical Framework for Good Practice in Counselling and Psychotherapy to which all members must subscribe.
The member was invited to send in a written response and made a response.
The Article 12.6 Panel decided to implement Article 12.6 of the Memorandum and Articles of Association and withdraw BACP membership from Ms Foss Ball to take effect 28 days from notification of this decision, pending appeal. The reasons for its decision were as follows:
- The Panel was of the view that Ms Foss Ball demonstrated a lack of understanding and self-awareness of the serious nature of the issues that were being considered under Article 12.6 and, in particular, was concerned by her comments that "...I'm placed in a position where I have to explain myself repeatedly" and "I have not done anything wrong".
- In section 8.1 of Ms Foss Ball's application for accreditation, she was required to provide the following: "Describe a rationale for your client work with reference to the theory/theories that inform your practice". Ms Foss Ball copied the information for this section from the Integrated Person Care website, word for word. The Panel also noted that in the declaration of honesty that Ms Foss Ball signed, it was made clear that if any plagiarised information was discovered, her application for accreditation could be disqualified.
- The Panel noted that a clear copyright notice was contained on the Integrated Person Care website which stated: "All texts used in this website are copyright, but their use is allowed provided that both the website and Tommaso Palumbo are duly acknowledged". Ms Foss Ball provided no evidence either that she was aware of this copyright notice or that she took steps to obtain the permission requested.
- In relation to the allegation that the case studies for her 2009 and 2012 application were identical, the Panel did not accept Ms Foss Ball's explanation that the similarities between the case studies were due to the strict application of her practise model. The Panel carefully considered both case studies and found that they contained significant similarities. The Panel did not consider it likely that Ms Foss Ball's client in 2009 would present the same issues that her client in 2012 experienced and that she would use the same intervention described in both case studies.
- The Panel agreed that on the basis of the information available to it, Ms Foss Ball's actions had brought the reputations of BACP and the reputations of counselling and psychotherapy into disrepute and her actions were incompatible with the actions of a member of BACP.
Ms Foss Ball was given the opportunity to appeal the decision, but no appeal was received. Consequently her membership was withdrawn. Any future application for membership of this Association will be considered under Article 12.3 of the Memorandum and Articles of the Association.