UK Psychotherapist Booted For Pushing Gay-Conversion Therapy

British journalist Patrick Strudwick has spoken with Queerty before about his attempts to debunk the fraudulent practice of reparative therapy. Now he’s happy to report that Lesley Pilkington, the quack who tried to “cure” him of his gay ways, has lost her license.

The professional body under which she practiced, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), has withdrawn her membership. She becomes the first therapist in history to be struck off after trying to convert a gay client to heterosexuality – despite decades of such abusive interventions by the profession.

Many believed the 60-year-old Christian had already been booted out in May when she lost her appeal against the BACP’s verdict of “ professional malpractice”. (They described her as “negligent”, “dogmatic” and “unprofessional”). This week, while covering a story about the organisation, many newspapers reported as such. But the appeal merely upheld the original verdict and most of the original sanctions.

In 2010, Strudwick went undercover and approached Pilkington as a gay man looking to change his sexuality. She claimed she had helped at least ten other men find their inner hetero and made laughable assertions that homosexuality was caused by a “difficult birth” and “freemasonry,” and can be repressed by playing rugby.

Not in the games we’ve seen.

The not-so-good doctor, who has a gay son of her own, also hypothesized Strudwick’s homosexuality was caused by sexual abuse, even though he had never been molested: “I think it will be there,”she said in a recording he made of their sessions. “You’ve let things be done to you.” Strudwick writes that the tapes also recording Pilkington “praying to God to bring these memories to the surface.”

As glad as Strudwick is that Pilkington has been forced to take down her shingle, he’s dismayed that the BACP gave her a chance to stay in its good graces:

To retain her membership, after being suspended, all she needed to do was write a report within a month of May’s verdict, reflecting on the findings against her, and then, between four and twelve months, write another more detailed response, countersigned by her supervisor, explaining changes she had made in her practice that ‘ demonstrate her learning’.

The end result, though, is that the BACP has finally declared that it”opposes any psychological treatment such as ‘reparative’ or ‘conversion’ therapy, which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality is a mental disorder or based on the premise that the client/patient should change his/her sexuality.”

Let’s hope the next step is following California’s lead and banning the practice altogether.

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #bacp #britishassociationforcounsellingandpsychotherapy #conversiontherapy stories and more


  • EdWoody

    While it’s good that she’s no longer free to practise, this particular case sounds a bit like entrapment. If he went to her and specifically asked to be converted, can she really be blamed for doing as he asked?

    If he’d simply said “I’m havin trouble accepting my homosexuality,” and she’d raised the idea of conversion herself, it would have been a stronger case.

    Of course, what she should have done is say, “Ain’t no way, lady, you’re a homo and ain’t no changing that so stop complaining and enjoy yourself,” but of course had to be a Christianist nut.

  • Ken

    This is exposure, not entrapment. Strudwick got Pilkington to reveal her methods, procedures, and the outcome of previous cases. He didn’t persuade her to do for the first time it over her initial objections.

    None of the theories about homosexuality are scientific, because they have an underlying unexamined assumption, that heterosexuality is innate in all individuals, and that homosexuality is some sort of add-on or variant. That’s why heterosexuals occasionally ask a gay couple which one is the husband and which one is the wife, and it’s why ex-gay therapists attempt destroy a person’s homosexuality with the intent of revealing the heterosexuality they presume lies beneath it. In fact, this unexamined assumption explains why ex-gay therapists exist at all.

    You can’t turn gays into straights unless you could also turn a control group of straights into gays. (Please, let’s not try.) No investigation into human sexuality can assume that heterosexuality is at the base. It has to look at heterosexuality as only one variation of human sexuality.

  • ForwardTherapy

    There are a couple of errors in this article.

    Firstly, while Pilkington has been struck off as a member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), she has not lost her ‘license’. She never had one. Counsellors and psychotherapists in England do not require a license for private practice. The BACP is the largest professional organisation for psychotherapists and counsellors in the UK but it is self-regulating and independent. Neither the BACP nor the government can stop Lesley Pilkington from continuing to trade and she is only forced to ‘take down her shingle’ to the extent that she can no longer claim to be a member of the BACP.

    “So what?” you might ask. The point is that she can continue to practice if she chooses to, although the media around the case appears to have discredited her so it is unlikely so many people will seek her out. On the other hand, the coverage might also mean that people do seek her out because it is getting harder to find practitioners who claim they can ‘cure’ people. I have had quite a lot of people contact me hoping I might work in this way, which of course I don’t. But my guess is there are still a lot of people who believe in the myth of being able to change sexual orientation.

    In the article she is referred to as a ‘doctor’. I am not aware of Pilkington’s qualifications but also have not been able to find any reference to indicate that she has a medical degree, a doctorate or a PhD of any kind, although of course it may be possible. But on the basis that her academic qualifications appear to not have been reported, it would be inappropriate to suggest she is a ‘doctor’.

Comments are closed.