Counselling or Quackery - True or False?

In 2004 William Burgoyne wrote a small but significant book in the UK entitled Counselling or Quackery? outlining 'a personal view of the Therapy Industry and the Therapy Culture that underpins it'.

A number of other writers have written about the general issue of whether counselling or psychotherapy are generally beneficial for people, or may on occasion be harmful, virtually taking them apart under the guise of helping them.

Some people feel that a regulatory system needs putting in place to ensure that standards are kept up, and that people have suitable recourse if they feel something has gone wrong. Others feel that such a system would not necessarily improve the current situation, or would likely send bad practices further underground.

William Burgoyne's book summarises his research into a number of aspects relevant for the current state of affairs. At the end are useful Chapter Notes with further reading material. Appendix 'C' lists some Help Groups. Some of the them do not come up on an Internet Search so it would be good to hear of current activities that people are aware of.

ADVICE to PARENTS and CHILDREN (p.119 Counselling or Quackery?)

Here William Burgoyne quotes pages 631-637 of Mark Pendergrast's book Victims of Memory (available from Amazon) on some considerations when trying to build trust within families affected by allegations of abuse.

Summaries of chapters from Victims of Memory are online

Click here for A Summary of Myths and Realities on Memory and Therapy


Any information and links appearing on this Blog are included simply in the hope they may be useful to some readers. Not everyone has the same experiences or needs, or is likely to believe in the same things.
The purpose of this Blog and items mentioned is that people can take what is useful for themselves and their situation, and try to move on from there, with or without engaging in therapy or following a particular approach.

This list appears on the site of Michael C Irving The Child Abuse Survivor Monument (some of these offer alternative or conflicting views on these difficult issues. Follow what makes sense for you or your situation, or maybe that of someone close to you.)

Bayin, Anne. “Falsely Accused: False Memory Syndrome is Wrecking Families and Destroying the Credibility of Genuine Sexual-Abuse Victims.” Homemaker’s Magazine, September 1993, vol. 28 no. 6, p. 44-6, 48+.

Bower, Bruce. Sex abuse: Direct Approach May Aid Recall.” Science News (US), October 19, 1991, vol. 140 no. 16, p. 245.

“Sudden Recall: Adult Memories of Child Abuse Spark a Heated Debate pt.1.” Science News (US), September 18, 1993, vol. 144 no. 12, p. cover, 184-6.

Brown, Laura. Subversive Dialogues. New York, N.Y.: Basic Books, 1994.

Eigenkind, Heidi. “Bearing Witness: A Questioning of the Politics of Memory”. Canadian Woman Studies, Fall 1991, vol. 12 no. 1, p. 21-4.

Fraser, Sylvia. “Abuse Wars: Whose Memory Matters? Betrayal Trauma: The Logic Of Forgetting Childhood Abuse.” Globe and Mail, January 25, 1997 pD14 (English).

Herman, Judith Lewis. Trauma and Recovery. New York, N.Y.: Basic Books, 1992. xi 276

Kandel, Minouche and Eric R. Kandel. “Flights of Memory: Can Memories of Long-Ago Abuses Be Lost? Once Lost, Can They Be Found Again?” Discover, May 1994, vol. 15, no. 5, p. 32, 34-8.

Martin, Sandra. “You Must Remember This: -- War Raging Around Recovered Memories.” Chatelaine (Eng), September 1997, vol. 70 no. 9 p.40-1, 43+ (English).

Moore, Tom. Angels Crying: A True Story of Secrecy and Tragedy. Nimbus Publishing Ltd. 1995.

Penfold, P. Susan. “Repressed Memory Controversy: Is There Middle Ground? Canadian Medical Association Journal, September 15 1996, vol. 155 no. 6, p. 647-53.

Terr, Lenore. Unchained Memories: True Stories of Traumatic Memories, Lost and Found. New York, N.Y.: Basic Books, 1994.

Woodward, Kenneth L. “Was It Real Or Memories? The Collapse of Charges Against A Cardinal Raises Questions About ‘Assisted’ Claims of Sexual Abuse.” Newsweek, March 14, 1994, vol. 123 no. 11, p. 54-5.

True or False?

In a 1995 book Survivor Psychology: the dark side of a Mental Health mission Susan Smith raises concerns that 'mental health practitioners... are using a system of theory and therapy with common elements identified as survivor psychology. The system is based on myth, superstition, folklore and folk psychology and incorporates powerful persuasion techniques, sales psychology and aggressive therapeutic modalities.'

It would be possible to cite book after book along broadly similar lines, but you can seek them out for yourself and see what you think.

Type into Google for the UK:

middle ground false memories

A number of papers are listed, written by academics at universities here, who have tried to bridge the gap between views that polarise. Views on emotive and personal matters are likely to polarise by their very nature, but it should be possible to get a stage beyond that and move forward from there.

Implicit or explicit in some material on survivors is that a lot more people are getting drawn into a 'helping situation' and being labelled as survivors who need longterm help. Sadly what can happen is they become less able to cope, and may find they are effectively being abused by the very system they relied on for help.

What are we doing?
What can we do about it!

Abuse in Therapy or Helping Relationships

It can take a long while for someone to realise that the person who was meant to be helping them, is actually not helping, or is being controlling or abusive.

Elsewhere 'Doc Matrix' argues that if we don't know our basic rights, the more easily they get eroded - by others who DO know, or who over-ride them anyway!

See 'Doc Matrix' webpage 'Let's Reduce Abuse' with books and links for information and support:

Available from Amazon UK or Amazon USA

Broken Boundaries, Stories of Betrayal in Relationships of Care by Sarah Richardson, Melanie Cunningham et al

Shouldn't I be Feeling Better by Now? ed.Yvonne Bates

Counselling or Quackery? by William Burgoyne (see post below)

Madness Explained: Psychosis and Human Nature by Richard P. Bentall & Aaron T. Beck
Manufacturing Victims: What the Psychology Industry is doing to People by Tana Dineen
House of Cards: Psychology and Psychotherapy Built on Myth by Robyn M. Dawes
Therapy Culture by Frank Furedi

Fish in a Barrel by Grace Towers
Sexual Abuse by Health Professionals by P. Susan Penfold
Out of Bounds: Sexual Exploitation in Counselling and Therapy by Dr Janice Russell
Patients as Victims: Sexual Abuse in Psychotherapy and Counselling by Derek Jehu
Breach of Trust: Sexual Exploitation by Health Care Professionals and Clergy ed. John C. Gonsiorek
Falling for Therapy: Psychotherapy from a Client's Point of View by Anna Sands
Boundaries and Boundary Violations in Psychoanalysis by Gen O. Gabbard, Eva P. Lester

Dorothy Rowe has written a variety of books on subjects to do with human emotions and relationships and getting help. Many are available in book stores, and new or secondhand from

New Attacks on Psychotherapy article by Phil Mollon at

Guidelines for Seeking Help and Self-Help are at

Playlists on 'theCojent' Youtube channel, and also on 'Survivorway' - for Survivors of all kinds

Stop Bad Therapy site

Talking Cure - useful information & links relevant for the UK at (site of Dr Douglas McFadzean & associates)

VEX organisation for support, info and links at

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