‘Frantic and unhinged’ NHS psychologist is suspended after patients complained she spent hour-long sessions ignoring their problems and discussing her own instead – leaving clients ‘burdened and upset’
- Psychologist Martina King suspended six months after discussing own problems
- Mrs King, who has 15 years experience with NHS, told a patient she hated NHS
- Patients complained after she left them feeling ‘burdened’ and ‘upset’
An NHS psychologist has been suspended after patients complained she spent hour-long therapy sessions ignoring their problems and discussing her personal life.
‘Emotional’ Martina King wasted entire appointments discussing issues to do with her family, her job and her own health, leaving her clients ‘burdened’ and ‘upset’.
The experienced professional, who worked at Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, even told one patient that she hated the health service.
Mrs King, who has 15 years experience with the NHS, argued that she shared personal details to empathise with patients.
But a disciplinary panel at the Health and Care Professionals Tribunal Service judged her unfit to practice and suspended her for six months.
‘Emotional’ Martina King (pictured) wasted entire hour long appointments discussing issues with her family, her job and her own health leaving her clients ‘burdened’ and ‘upset’
A hearing was told Mrs King became a clinical and counselling psychologist for the NHS trust in November 2009, working for acute mental health services.
In April 2018, a patient – named only as Service User A – reported concerns about Mrs King’s conduct after she had become visibly upset and disclosed personal issues which were ‘clearly very raw’, the panel heard.
Service User A described Mrs King’s eyes as ‘glazed and full of emotion’ and said she was ‘frantic, unhinged, not calm and on edge’ which shocked her client who was left ‘feeling awful’.
Another patient who had never been to therapy before, Service User B, met with Mrs King and as she explained her situation, Mrs King became upset, had tears in her eyes and then went on to describe her own circumstances.
Mrs King, who has 15 years experience with the NHS, argued that she shared personal details to empathise with patients
Service User B said she had not known what to expect from therapy but felt that Mrs King’s behaviour was a ‘cry for help’, the panel heard.
She felt Mrs King was unfit to work as she was oversharing with a patient who was herself ‘vulnerable’ and ‘her head was all over the place’.
Similarly, during another patient – Service User C’s – first appointment in September 2019, Mrs King talked about herself ‘for most of the session’.
During their next session, Mrs King said her patient looked stressed and offered her a massage.
For the majority of the appointment, Mrs King talked about her personal and professional life, family circumstances, her moving house and health.
The panel heard that Mrs King went into detail about her managers and said she hated the NHS and claimed that she had been treated unfairly.
Their hour long session overran by 45 minutes and when it finished, Mrs King gave Service User C a big hug and asked her not to tell anyone about what she had said.
Suspending Mrs King for six months, the panel concluded: ‘There remained a risk of repetition of such potentially harmful conduct in the future.’
The patient ‘barely said anything’ and ‘felt unable to leave’, the tribunal heard.
Service User C said she felt quite ‘worried, burdened, upset and let down, having made a big effort to go and see a therapist’. She felt that the appointment had made her situation worse in some ways leaving her ‘vulnerable’ and ‘quite distressed’.
During an investigation, Mrs King had said she had shared personal details with patients in order to empathise with them and validate her own responses to their situations which bore similarities to her own experience.
The panel – held remotely – said: ‘Mrs King did not dispute the essential facts of the consultations with Service Users A, B and C.
‘In particular, she did not dispute that she had made personal disclosures, but submitted there was therapeutic benefit for the service users.
‘(She) breached professional boundaries by disclosing highly personal, distressing and sensitive information about herself.
‘Mrs King’s actions caused [patients] further distress and worry, including about Mrs King herself.’
Suspending her for six months, the panel concluded: ‘There remained a risk of repetition of such potentially harmful conduct in the future.’
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