Mr Monir Ahmed
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The Allegation found proved by a panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee at the Substantive Hearing for which the Panel imposed a Striking Off Order on 09 December 2014 was as follows:
During the course of your employment as a High Intensity Psychological Therapist with the Guernsey Health and Social Services Department and whilst registered as a Practitioner Psychologist between 24 May 2012 and 13 September 2012, you:
1. Held therapy sessions with service user A, and on one or more occasions during those sessions, you:
a) kissed her on the lips;
b) kissed her on the cheek;
c) hugged her during sessions;
d) hugged her at the end of sessions;
e) asked her to go to the cinema with you, and
(i) [not proved]
(ii) [not proved]
f) asked her to meet you in the car park;
g) asked her to telephone you during a session so that you could save her personal mobile telephone number on your own mobile telephone;
h) asked her to send you text messages twice a day, including one to say how she felt about you;
i) told her that you had a 'special connection’, or words to that effect, but that she must not disclose this relationship to anyone else;
j) touched the collar of her dress and in doing so touched her chest;
k) stroked her leg from her ankle to just above her knee;
l) told her she was in denial about her feelings for you; and
m) made her feel uncomfortable during sessions.
2. Held therapy sessions with service user C and on one or more occasions during those sessions, you:
a) offered to hug her;
b) told her she was attractive;
c) [not proved]
d) [not proved]
3. Your actions in paragraphs 1 - 2 were sexually motivated.
4. The matters described in paragraphs 1 and/or 2 and 3 constitute misconduct.
5. By reason of that misconduct your fitness to practise is impaired.
The Past Allegation
1. The Applicant first joined the register in May 2012.
(b) The serious abuse of authority, trust and confidence vested in the Registrant as the treating therapist.
(c) The abuse of two vulnerable service users.
(d) Causing actual distress and harm to the service users.
(e) The behaviour was repeated in a number of sessions over a period of around 2 months.
(f) The behaviour was escalating in severity.
(g) All the behaviour was deliberate and intentional.
(h) The misconduct was sexually motivated.
(i) There was a failure to seek out support and guidance.
(j) The Registrant consistently denied matters that have been proven against him with the consequence of vulnerable service users having to give evidence.
(k) It has been 2 years since the incidents and the Registrant has been away from clinical practice. Despite this he has not used the time to demonstrate any understanding of the matters proven against him.
(l) The Registrant has shown no remorse, or regret for his actions, nor has he taken responsibility despite a 2 month opportunity to do so. The Panel was mindful of cultural issues about apologising, body language and language itself but the Registrant did not offer an apology of any description.
(m) There is no evidence of insight or remediation
(b) He had a high caseload.
(c) His cultural background may have presented him with difficulties in
Guernsey society and he may have felt isolated.
(d) There were 87 pages of feedback forms from patients generated over a 9 month period from January to September 2012. The nature and extent of those feedback forms suggested that the Registrant was a competent therapist. (The service users in this case also produced positive feedback reports but they felt obliged to do so as the Registrant was present at the time.)
(e) The Registrant engaged with his employers’ disciplinary process.
(f) He self-referred the matter to the HCPC at a time when he did not know that this had already been done by his employer.
(g) He fully engaged with this regulatory process and attended throughout this hearing despite findings being made against him.
(h) There were a series of supportive testimonials from a diverse range of people known to the Registrant.
(i) This was the first time the Registrant was before this regulator (however these matters arose within months of his registration).
Following my restoration request, I was advised by FTP department to contact HCPC registration department for submitting re-admission and return to practice forms. A countersignature from an HCPC registered clinical psychologist was required for the re-admission/return to practice form.
I then have approached some HCPC registered clinical psychologists locally to help me complete the re-admission/return to practice forms and Dr Omar was one of them. I also had a plan to get some reflective supervisions from Dr Omar once the re-admission process with the HCPC registration department was completed.
Dr Omar responded to my request in mid-January 2020 and countersigned my readmission/return to practice forms. I informed Dr Omar that I would soon need some supervisions to prepare myself to return to practice once my readmission/return to practice forms was processed by the registration department, HCPC. Dr Omar was also willing to supervise me.
I submitted the completed readmission/return to practice form on 15 January 2020
I have contacted the registration department in early February 2020 to get an update and I was told that my readmission/return to practice was successfully processed but needed to get signed off by FTP department. I then contacted FTP department and was advised to request for restoration.
I am very regretful that the fitness to practice concern was raised against me in 2012 when I was registered as a practitioner psychologist and was working as a therapist. I acted inappropriately with two service users who attended therapy sessions with me. A conduct and competence committee Panel, HCPC at a Final Hearing on 9 December 2014 concluded my behaviour and performance as misconduct and decided to impose a Striking Off Order. I understand it was necessary to protect the public, particularly vulnerable service users, as well as to maintain public confidence on HCPC as the regulatory body of the profession. I completely agree with the Panel’s decision and accept that I breached the following HCPC Standards of Conduct Performance and Ethics:
Standard 3 – I failed to maintain high standards of professional conduct.
Standard 7 – I failed to communicate properly and effectively with service users.
Standard 10 – I failed to keep accurate records.
Standard 13 – I failed to behave with integrity and my behaviour has damaged confidence in me and my profession.
On reflection, I am very sorry and apologise that I did not act reasonably and responsibly with the two service users in therapy sessions in 2012 when I was working as a High Intensity Psychological Therapist. It was my first job as an independent practitioner, and I was working as a newly qualified therapist and psychologist. Having said that my performance, actions and behaviours fell significantly below the standard and I feel very ashamed, remorseful of what I have done as a therapist with the two service users.
My above misconduct has been a serious learning experience. I have been out of the profession for about 8 years now. My livelihood has been seriously affected, emotionally and psychologically. I have been a broken person. I have engaged myself in the research study and managed to find work in a field other than psychology/psychotherapy to survive my livelihood. Besides, I have made efforts to reflect and correct myself by attending relevant training courses and have tried to secure clinical supervisions. I would outline the following training courses:
09/05/14 Personal Awareness and Ethical Behaviour in CBT;
05/02/18 Interpersonal Processes.
In early January 2020, I have approached some local clinical psychologists for countersignature on the readmission/return to practice form. I was fortunate to have the availability of Dr Omar who willingly counter-signed my form and offered me supervisions. I had the opportunity to reflect further and gained important insight into my behaviours, emotions and performance concerning my misconduct. I have attended four supervision sessions to date from Dr Omar….
Reflecting on what happened to the situation with the two service users, I was a newly qualified CBT therapist and psychologist, I did not realise fully the burden of professional responsibility and importance of maintaining professional boundaries. I communicated with the service users inappropriately. I understand I acted foolishly by engaging myself in physical contacts, such as hugging that were unnecessary to help and support service users in therapy sessions. I was also careless in verbal communication including giving compliments. At that time, I thought I was supporting the service users by a hug, a kiss or a compliment and felt I was admired, liked by them and thus gained personal gratification. I can understand that this kind of behaviour can be viewed as sexually motivated. I was also in denial that I did not do anything wrong and tried to prove that I did not act inappropriately. At the HCPC Final Hearing in 2014, even after a couple of years of the incident of my misconduct, I denied wrongdoing and did not develop insight at that time about my inappropriate behaviours and the mistakes I did with the service users.
In summary, I am very regretful that I crossed the boundary excessively that led me to commit the misconduct. I could have stepped back and could have sought supervision when physical contact happened at the very first session with the two service users for the very first time. I also could have referred the service users to another therapist when I noticed my feeling at the beginning. I am very sorry that I failed to take the necessary steps to prevent the misconduct happening. Dr Omar, my supervisor and I have planned that if my application for restoration is accepted, I continue with weekly supervision to begin with and work with a small caseload to make sure that it is manageable. We also planned that I begin to work with female clients remotely via telephone or online. This will allow me to reflect any issue in weekly supervision so that my skills and confidence continue to improve and any form of crossing professional boundary does not re-occur. I am confident that I will strictly follow professional ethics, guidelines and will not engage in any form of physical contact including a handshake, particularly with female clients. Moreover, given the current COVID-19 pandemic situation, I will be mindful in maintaining social distancing guidelines. I believe it has become a social norm nowadays for both therapists and clients to maintain physical distance which I believe would be helpful for me in implementing the plans that my supervisor and I have set out. I have also discussed and planned with my supervisor on how, to begin with, safe practice, such as, having professional indemnity insurance in place, keeping client information encrypted. I am now much more aware of the dangers associated with boundary-crossing and have specifically undertaken relevant pieces of training, supervisions to prevent any further misconduct to re-occur. I am determined not to cross any form of the boundary with any clients going forward.
09/05/14 Personal Awareness and Ethical Behaviour in CBT;
05/02/18 Interpersonal Processes.
15. The Applicant called Dr Omar to give evidence on his behalf. Dr Omar confirmed that when the Applicant first approached her he did not inform her that he had been struck off. She said that after this disclosure she concentrated on supervision on boundaries and professional guidelines for independent practice.
16. Dr Omar said that in the course of supervision the Applicant had said that he had hugged and kissed Service User A because she had felt low and he had wanted to lift her spirits; he now accepted that this was inappropriate. Dr Omar said that the Applicant had been receptive to ongoing supervision and had shown a willingness to explore the reason for being struck off. She had explored with him ways to avoid a repetition of his behaviour in the future. She said that in her view his insight had greatly increased; although it was still developing, it was not fully developed. She said that should he be allowed back onto the register he would need close weekly supervision for a period of 3 months followed by fortnightly supervision, before progressing to monthly supervision. She agreed that the Applicant might require a refresher CBT course before returning to practice.
17. The Applicant gave evidence. He accepted that he did not initially disclose his striking off to Dr Omar. He said that was he thought that all he needed was a counter signature on his application form in order to submit the relevant paperwork for readmission to the register. He also felt a sense of shame and he wanted to discuss the matter in supervision. He said that it was not until the third supervision session that he began to develop insight. He said that he had had four supervision sessions in all. He said that he had spent the last two years reading books and journals. He accepted that he had not taken part in any CBT courses and that he would need to do this before returning to practice.
18. The Applicant said that he now saw that his past behaviour had been unnecessary, and that it had been a way of getting admiration from, and being liked by, service users. He said that to be admired by service users was a form of personal gratification, and that this could be viewed as sexually motivated behaviour. He said that his behaviour towards the Service Users had been part of the therapeutic process, albeit that it had been unnecessary.
19. The Applicant was asked what he thought the public would think if his name were to be restored to the register, to which he said that he did not know. He accepted that his behaviour would have a negative impact on the profession.
Submissions on behalf of the HCPC
20. Ms Simpson submitted that the application should be refused.
21. Ms Simpson addressed each of the relevant points set out in the Practice Note published by the HCPTS entitled “Restoration to the Register”
22. Ms Simpson asked the Panel to consider the reasoning behind the Strike Off, which had involved a finding of sexually motivated behaviour in relation to two female Service Users, of a deliberate and intentional nature.
26. The Applicant relied on the evidence that he had just given. He maintained that he had developed insight. He said that he was sorry for what had happened. He said that he accepted that what he had done was “unnecessary”.
27. The Panel accepted the advice of the legal assessor. It took into account the guidance in the Practice Note “Restoration to the Register”. The burden of proof is on the Applicant to prove that he should be restored to the Register. The requirements for restoration to the register are set out in Article 33(5) of the HCPC Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001. They are that the Applicant:
• Meets the general requirements for registration; and
• Is a fit and proper person to practice the relevant profession, having regard to the particular circumstances that led to striking off.
28. The Panel gave consideration to:
• the matters which had led to the Striking Off order and the reasons given by the original Panel for imposing that sanction;
• what steps the Applicant had taken to keep his professional knowledge and skills up to date.
29. The Panel started by considering the past behaviour which had led to the Striking Off Order, the reasons for imposing that sanction and the period of time that had passed since then. The Striking Off order had related to serious misconduct concerning two female service users, groomed by the Applicant for his own sexual gratification. The substantive panel had not accepted the Applicant’s denial of the allegation. He had sought to argue that his actions had either been carried out for therapeutic reasons or had not occurred at all. However, the substantive panel had found his behaviour to be deliberate and intentional.
30. The Panel noted that the Applicant had lodged his application to be restored to the register at the earliest opportunity, a matter of weeks after the relevant 5 year period had lapsed since his Striking Off order. The Panel concluded that in that time he had done nothing meaningful by way of remediation or reflection. He had read some books and journals and had obtained a degree in an unrelated subject. However, he had done nothing of a practical nature, for example, seeking employment, paid or unpaid, in a related field. Nor had he undertaken any CBT courses. Of the three certificates relied on by him in making this application, two related to courses that he had undertaken prior to the substantive hearing. The third was not fully relevant to the learning points that the Applicant should have addressed following his Striking Off, in that the course related to interpersonal processes rather than ethical practice. The Panel concluded that the Applicant had not remediated his past misconduct, nor had he demonstrated a genuine willingness or ability to do so. Neither had he taken adequate steps to keep his professional knowledge and skills up to date.
31. Dr Omar had said that in her view whilst the Applicant had begun to develop insight, his insight was incomplete. It was her view that the Applicant would require weekly supervision for at least three months if permitted to return to practice. The Panel took into account the Applicant’s initial failure to disclose his Striking Off order to Dr Omar. The Panel noted that the Applicant had had only four supervision sessions with Dr Omar, and on his own admission it was not until the third session that he had begun the journey towards development of some insight.
32. The Panel concluded that whilst the Applicant had informed the Panel that he accepted the past finding of sexual motivation, for which some credit must attach, he did not accept this in any meaningful sense. He still appeared to be in denial of his past misconduct, informing the Panel that he had acted out of a desire to be admired, rather than for sexual gratification, and informing Dr Omar that he had hugged and kissed Service User A to try to lift her spirits. The Panel did not accept that the Applicant truly accepted his past misconduct or had developed meaningful insight into his past actions.
33. The Panel had been presented with no material from which it could conclude that if permitted to return to practice the Applicant would not pose a risk to the public. The Panel concluded that the promotion and maintenance of public confidence in the profession and proper professional standards would be adversely affected if he were to be permitted to return to practice.
34. In all the circumstances the Panel concluded that the Applicant had not discharged the burden of satisfying the Panel that he is a fit and proper person to practise his profession.
35. Accordingly, this application is refused.
The Application for restoration was refused.
You may appeal to the High Court in England and Wales against the Panel’s decision.
Under Article 33 (13) of the Health Professions Order 2001, any appeal must be made within 28 days of the date when this notice is served on you.
History of Hearings for Mr Monir Ahmed
|Date||Panel||Hearing type||Outcomes / Status|
|16/07/2020||Conduct and Competence Committee||Restoration Hearing||Restoration not granted|