in Things that have given psychiatry a bad name

Things that have given psychotherapy a bad name #1 – Derek Draper.

In 1998 when 29 year old New Labour insider Derek Draper claimed to an undercover reporter that he could sell access to government ministers, ‘Lobbygate’ was born.  Draper was subsequently ostracised but was reborn, following a Portillian or Aitkenian transformation and under the media’s eye, as a psychotherapist.

There’s smugness in this.  Draper, a man know in equal measure for intelligence but also his arrogance, goes on a journey of self discovery that he can’t quite keep to himself.  He returns having made peace with his demons and armed with the insight into the human condition that only those who have suffered can muster.  Welcomed back into the fold we listen rapt, as he rewards our patience with his sagacity.

Draper returned to planet Labour in 2008 setting up the blogsite LabourList, which aimed to be the left wing answer to Conservative Home.  In what has become known as ‘Smeargate’, leaked emails between PM Gordon Brown’s bruiser Damien McBride and Draper detailed an exchange in which a website – Red Rag – would be set up with the intention of spreading rumours about prominent Conservative politicians.  Draper’s reponse to McBride’s proposals? ‘Absolutely bloody brilliant’.

These events call into question Draper’s suitability to continue in his chosen profession and indicate that his widely publicised sojourn as a psychotherapist has taught him little.  There are also unresolved rumblings that he was never qualified to be a psychotherapist in the first place; this despite writing widely on the subject, and even contributing to a book called ‘The Future of the NHS’ having only worked in private practice.

The machinations of political animals and the tutored insight of a psychotherapist make strange bedfellows – and so it has proved in this case.  Both doctors and psychotherapists are sometimes thoughtless and cruel; this is the nature of the human condition.  However to engage in such a calculated conspiracy suggests a callousness which is incompatible with working with our society’s most vulnerable. On his private practice website Draper writes that he is a member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and adheres to their ethical framework.  The qualities to which these guidelines strongly encourage adherents to aspire include sincerity, integrity and empathy.  Whoops…

If I was one of Draper’s clients I might ask for my money back…


Draper has also penned a self help book ‘Life Support: A survival Guide for the Modern Soul’Critiqued by Patrick Barkham in the Guardian

Update 17 April 2009 The Guardian’s Marina Hyde has an amusing swipe at Draper and his GMTV presenting wife Mayday, mayday! How it all went wrong for the golden media couple

19 April Anyone seeking help from Derek Draper needs therapy Catherine Bennett Guardian

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