As part of our work to protect the public and promote high standards of practice we launched the ‘What complaints tell us about ….’ resources in 2022. These resources are about different themes within therapy where complaints have been upheld. We are now continuing that work by introducing regular reviews from published complaints and looking at common themes to support members in identifying any common mistakes and helping clients understand what is and isn’t best practice.

The main allegations upheld against BACP members for the period of July to December 2023 can be summarised as follows:


• Misuse of client information
• Sending of unsolicited information
• Not maintaining time boundaries
• Dual relationships
• Inappropriate self disclosure around therapist belief systems  

Competence / fitness to practice 

• Undermining of diversity and discrimination
• Working when not fit to practice
• Inappropriate tone in correspondence  

Competence / fitness to practice

• Undermining of diversity and discrimination
• Working when not fit to practice
• Inappropriate tone in correspondence


• Failure to ensure that a client had understood the arrangements 


• Concluding the therapy without notice
• Ending of the therapy without explanation
• Failure to check if the clients understood how further sessions could be arranged  

Therapeutic interventions 

• Fostering of client dependency 

Some of the complaints were about frequently recurring issues such as the management of endings in therapy. This may have been because the therapist did not give the client notice of their intention to end and, where appropriate, the opportunity for a final session. In other instances, this was because the session arrangements were such that the therapist didn’t provide the client with further information about how any further sessions could be arranged. In the words of the Ethical Framework ‘we will endeavour to inform clients well in advance of approaching endings and be sensitive to our client’s expectations and concerns when we are approaching the end of our work together’ (Good practice point 39).

Complaints might have been avoided had there been preparation for an ending and a clear final session. Any final session could have been used to confirm whether there were opportunities for the client to return at a later date and to provide clarification around any future contact thus bringing the therapy to and end and providing clarity for both parties.

As can be seen from the summary of complaints several of those which have been upheld related to the issue of boundaries. This area covers a breadth of topics related to therapeutic work and the way that boundaries may be breached is wide ranging.  

In some cases, it was because the therapist didn’t maintain the boundary around length of session. In others it was the sharing of personal beliefs by the therapist when the client had made no request for this information to be disclosed. Also included is when the therapist used the personal information of the client to send correspondence which had not been requested. All of these could be considered under the umbrella term of ‘boundaries’.

Complaints might have been avoided had the therapist either discussed these decisions with their client in advance or otherwise had due reference to the Ethical Framework particularly:  

33. we will establish and maintain appropriate professional and personal boundaries in our relationships with clients by ensuring that:

a. these boundaries are consistent with the aims of working together and beneficial to the client 

12. we will do everything we can to develop and protect our clients’ trust

Overall, recent complaints have highlighted the importance of the appropriate management of endings, maintenance of boundaries, maintaining own fitness to practice and taking appropriate action if not able to work, as well as providing services which value diversity and ensure inclusion for all clients.

We have a number of resources that explore these topic areas in more detail in our 'What complaints tell us about.... ' series.