Monday, 19 June 2017

toxic supervision

yesterday Teviot Place Edinburgh
Last night on twitter I was reflecting on the toxic nature of the PhD supervision at the University of Edinburgh Clinical Psychology department which I experienced over 9 months from September 2016.  It caused me physical health issues, gut problems, having to get blood tests and stool samples examined via my GP, and having to cancel a London trip, taking part in the Windhorse and Basic Attendance Workshop on 3 May.  I'd already bought the plane tickets so it cost me financially.

At the final supervision meeting on 2 May 2017, I felt ganged up on, undermined and bullied, my research proposal on evidencing Safe haven crisis Houses was questioned and criticised, and I was made to feel "less than".  This was particularly cruel because I'm a lone "worker", unpaid Carer, campaigner, writer, activist, with no team to back me up.  The only person who supported my academic quest from the offset was Prof Andrew Gumley, supplying a positive PhD reference and offering formal mentorship.

After the supervision relationship broke down I found out from a Clinical Psychologist, formerly employed on the DClinPsy programme at Edinburgh, that 8 others had been bullied in the department, including himself, trainees and other staff, some of whom resigned because of it.  This person had raised a formal complaint with the university but got no justice and had to leave because of it.  When I heard about the bullying culture I raised concerns with Judy Thomson, Director of Training for Psychology Services NHS Education for Scotland.  NES fund the DClinPsy training at both Edinburgh and Glasgow Universities.

Ms Thomson eventually responded saying: 

"I have consulted internally about the best way to respond due to the seriousness of the issues raised. We will not be investigating this as a formal complaint as the concerns relate to a service provided by the University of Edinburgh and by named employees of that organisation. Although NES has an interest in the quality of the learning environment, the primary governance responsibility rests with the University.  Therefore we are proposing that we pass the information you have provided to the University, requesting that they deal with the points that you have raised and advise us of the outcome – as well as liaising with you directly.  Please can you confirm that you are happy for your email of 23 May to be passed on to the University of Edinburgh and we will progress with this action?"

At first I wasn't keen to be taking forward another complaint, due to the remembered stress of having had to complain about human rights abuses in Stratheden IPCU, Fife, February 2012.  Which resulted in an apology from NHS Fife after my complaint was upheld by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman. However I talked it over with my son and decided to proceed with the complaint, supported by NES.  This process is now ongoing.  [The University of Edinburgh's Complaints Procedure.]

I am very sad that my PhD hopes have been dashed, it's disheartening and disempowering, especially since I'm constrained financially, as an unwaged Carer, on a basic State Pension, no Carers Allowance.  At the November 2016 meeting with the Edinburgh University Clinical Psychology Professor I'd suggested that he could organise for me to undertake a few hours lecturing per week, enabling me to self fund the PhD.  However he wasn't willing or able to do this, although Ms Thomson thought this was viable when we met on 20 April 2017, prior to my PhD being withdrawn.

I feel bruised and battered after this toxic supervision experience.  It's very unfair, considering my situation and all the work I've done since 2008, voluntarily, to promote safer mental health services in Scotland, and Fife in particular.  Speaking out about human rights abuses and advocating for others who have been bullied for speaking out.  I deserve respect and recognition for standing up for, and with, others, at a cost to myself.



PhD Clinical Psychology University of Edinburgh - Withdrawal of Offer 9May17

4 May 2017: "no way we can guarantee success": the breakdown of supervision; "slumbering time bomb"


Cycling as therapy, yesterday on train to Edinburgh then cycling down Leith Walk, out to Portobello then round by Duddingston and down to the Meadows:

bike parked Teviot Place Edinburgh yesterday

Saturday, 17 June 2017

attachment: detachment

Dianthus back garden
Doing housework tasks & garden tidy-up today, reflecting on mental health involvement.  Thinking of attachment/detachment.  The latter I've found to be prevalent within some areas of Clinical Psychology (CP), ironically.  Much is preached about Attachment Theory yet what I've witnessed is detachment in practice by some, whether underpinned by Mindfulness or a reaction to it.  Don't know.

Lavender back garden
However I've seen some prime examples of academic and practice-based "detachment" in CP "professionals".  They seem to switch off in regard to the pain expressed by people who have been abused in psychiatric settings.  A clinical gaze [blog post from 2015] resulting in blank expressions, determined actions to make a patient or person conform to their "therapy".  I've noticed this since first engaging with a CP in Stratheden Hospital, Fife, and it has continued to be the case in my experience.  

Fortunately not all are like this or it would feel hopeless in regards to shifting an abusive paradigm.  I've seen in other CPs a reflection of my pain, an understanding and a solidarity.  Which gives me hope and confidence that positive change will happen despite those who have retreated into detachment, for whatever reason.

Friday, 2 June 2017

FOI Request ESTEEM Early Intervention #Psychosis Service @NHSGGC

On 28 May 2017 I sent this FOI Request to Ivano Mazzoncini, Team Leader, ESTEEM Early Intervention for Psychosis Service, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde:

"Dear Mr Mazzoncini

This is an FOI Request about the ESTEEM project, NHS GGC.  Please can you forward to the appropriate person in your health board area.  Thank you.

Here are the questions I have, so far:

Can you please send me all the information that is available about the ESTEEM Project in the last 5 years, including annual reports with details of finance (amount awarded each year, spent etc), budgeting, cost per patient/service user, medications used, types of psychological therapy given, testimonies of service users/patients, and any other information which will help me to be informed about ESTEEM.

I would like to know how referrals to ESTEEM are made, who makes them, can people self-refer?  How long does it take for referrals to be acted upon?  Have you got service user/patient/carer feedback about your service?  I'd like details from the last 5 years, preferably in the person's own words if possible.

I would like to know the "make-up" of the ESTEEM team eg psychiatrist, psychologist etc.  Who is the first port of call when a referral is made?  What is the assessment process for a person/patient?  

I would like statistical reports of the ESTEEM service from its beginning until now, showing numbers of people referred, worked with, avoiding psychiatric inpatient treatment etc.  To understand the cost-effectiveness of ESTEEM compared to inpatient treatment which I know will be in the ballpark of £3000/person/week (which is approximate figures for NHS Tayside and NHS Fife psychiatric inpatient treatment).

Does ESTEEM support coercive drug treatment?  Eg depot injections or acuphase clopixol.  Does ESTEEM offer only psychological therapies to patients/service users who express a wish for this?  Or are medications/antipsychotics the first port of call when a person is psychotic?

I am very interested in the availability of choices for people who are referred to ESTEEM.  Is there CBT for psychosis on offer?  I would like any reports on the effectiveness of CBTp for ESTEEM clients/service users.

Other questions:
  • are there any independent assessments of ESTEEM?  monitoring and evaluations done by other NHS GGC departments or external agencies
  • have there been any critical incidents to do with ESTEEM?  eg suicides, accidents, failures in care
  • how long has ESTEEM been ongoing?  how was ESTEEM set up?  has the management and organisation of ESTEEM changed since its early days?  if so, how?
  • how does ESTEEM advertise its service?  [I ask this because it's difficult to find anything about it and when I've contacted you for information you haven't responded]
  • what are the aims and objectives of ESTEEM? 
  • how do you promote ESTEEM beyond your health board area?  share good practice and mentor other mental health professionals; I'm interested in what you're doing to encourage other Scottish health boards to practice EIP.

I look forward to receiving a response to my FOI Request about the ESTEEM project.  So as to be more information about this early intervention psychosis initiative in the North area of Glasgow.

Regards, Chrys"


7 April 2016: The Glasgow ESTEEM early intervention service #Psychosis #Recovery

“I intend that we will be an open and accessible Government” #NicolaSturgeon 26Nov14

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 26th November 2014: on


"I am planning to arrange a ‘demonstration’ at the Martyrs monument, Edinburgh.

My idea is to recreate a gathering around the Martyrs Monument on Calton Hill which stands next to, but taller than, St Andrew’s House (the seat of power). I will prepare invites for this gathering to be held on Monday 21st August 2017.

The foundation stone of the Martyrs Monument was laid by Hume on 21 August 1844, with 3,000 people gathered for the occasion. This year, on the anniversary of this, a total solar eclipse will take place

This shared backdrop has been described by Prof Walter Hume in the Scottish Review, 21st September 2015:

“For some time I have been copied into email exchanges concerning how complaints against public bodies are dealt with. I have no personal stake in any of the specific sources of concern (which include patient care in the NHS and responses by Police Scotland, the Scottish Government and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) to requests for formal investigations). I do, however, have a long-standing interest in issues of public accountability and am familiar with the various techniques used by bureaucratic organisations to avoid responsibility when things go wrong: these include silence, delay, evasion, buck-passing and attempts to discredit complainants.”

Prof Humes went on to say:

“Those who hold high office in public bodies are very adept at defending their own interests. They may claim to support openness and transparency but those principles are not always translated into practice. Bureaucratic Scotland often falls short of the democratic ideals which are said to underpin civic life”

Ever aye

Peter, Little Sparta

Dr Peter J Gordon 

1 June 2017"

The Friends of Liberty from omphalos on Vimeo.

Monday, 29 May 2017


Yesterday I had to give up the PhD quest due to lack of funding.  I had to face up to the fact that I couldn't afford to self-fund a doctorate so as to research Safe Haven Crisis House alternatives to psychiatric inpatient treatment.  It was a sad day, hopes dashed, although I tried to stay positive.

This has come about because of the negative experience of supervision at the University of Edinburgh Clinical Psychology department.  I felt undermined by their lack of faith in my abilities and in funding being secured.  It caused me physical health issues and I couldn't let it continue.  After the supervision relationship broke down and no other supervisors could be found I heard that there was a bullying culture in the department.

I still intend to research Safe Haven Crisis House alternatives in the UK and abroad.  I don't know how this can be achieved as it seems impossible without the backing of an organisation.  Therefore I'm feeling disempowered, isolated, bruised and battered.  It's painful.  But I will survive.