A counsellor has received a recommendation of writing an apology letter and undertaking de-escalation training after an incident at her clinic. In this case, the Mental Health Commissioner found the counsellor (who did not hold any qualifications or registrations with a professional body) used an inappropriate and ineffective method of treatment.

During a session with an eight year old child, the counsellor was addressing the child’s desire to attack his mother with a pair of nearby scissors. The counsellor picked the scissors up and the child reached for them. The child was restrained by the counsellor. While being restrained, the counsellor asked the child whether he felt powerless, and attempted to relate feeling powerless to a previous altercation the child had instigated. This was held to be an inappropriate method for introducing the concept of empathy to a child.

This case demonstrates the importance of using appropriately trained and registered healthcare professionals when seeking treatment to ensure the correct treatment is provided.

Alan Knowsley
Medical Lawyer