Mr Kerry Berry - prohibited from practicing as a counsellor

05 Aug 2014

The Commission issues the following public statement under s41A(2)(b) of the Health Care Complaints Act 1993:

The NSW Health Care Complaints Commission conducted an investigation into the professional conduct of an Industrial Chaplin/workplace counsellor, Mr Kerry Berry.

The investigation found that between 2006 and 2012, whilst providing regular counselling services to a female client and her three grandchildren, Mr Berry breached the following clauses of the Code of Conduct for Unregistered Health Practitioners (“Code of Conduct”):

  • Clause 3(1): he failed to provide a health service in a safe and ethical manner in that he continued to provide regular counselling between 2006 and 2012 without advising his clients that he was only authorised to do so on the first two occasions and that he had been dismissed by his employer in 2009 for misconduct;
  • Clause 3(2)(a): he failed to maintain the necessary competence in his field of practice, in that he has undertaken no further training or professional development in his area of practice since the early 1980s;
  • Clauses 3(2)(b) and (c): he provided health care outside his experience and training and that he was not qualified to provide, in that he has limited formal training and qualifications in counselling generally and has obtained no training or qualifications in counselling children specifically;
  • Clause 3(2)(f): he failed to recognise the limitations of the treatment he could provide and failed to refer his clients to other competent health practitioners, in that he believed he could continue to offer beneficial counselling to his clients without specific training or qualifications working with children and without ongoing supervision or accountability;
  • Clauses 13(1) and 13(2): he engaged in a sexual relationship with his female client whilst providing counselling services to her and her family, or very shortly after ceasing to do so; and
  • Clause 15: he failed to maintain accurate, legible and contemporaneous clinical records for each client consultation.

The investigation found that a client/therapist relationship existed between Mr Berry and his female client of considerable duration and regularity. This client was an extremely vulnerable woman who had experienced a number of traumatic and difficult events immediately before and during her therapeutic relationship with Mr Berry. These were the issues about which she received counselling and the level of trust she and her family reposed in Mr Berry was significant. She had very little support other than from Mr Berry himself.

This did not prevent Mr Berry from initiating a sexual relationship with Mrs K for his own gratification. He ended the sexual relationship because he did not want it any more, leaving Mrs K again vulnerable, distressed and without support. He failed to have any regard to her wellbeing and did not refer her to competent health care professionals.

The Commission is satisfied that Mr Berry breached the Code of Conduct and that he poses a risk to the health or safety of members of the public.

The Commission has decided not to make this Statement of Decision publicly available, as it contains a significant amount of private health information about Mrs K and there is the potential for her to be identified by the public through her personal circumstances.

The Commission made the following prohibition order under section 41A(2)(a) of the Health Care Complaints Act 1993:

Mr Berry is permanently prohibited from practising as a counsellor, in either a paid or voluntary capacity.

 


Further Information

For further information, contact the Executive Officer of the Health Care Complaints Commission, on 9219 7444 or send an email to media@hccc.nsw.gov.au.

The information in this media release is correct at the time of publication. Orders may change; for example, conditions may no longer apply. For current information, contact the Commission.