Erin Stevens

PRESENTATION: Facing the Shadow of Harm in Therapy.

Research suggests that one in ten clients have a harmful experience of therapy, and that this rate rises significantly for clients from marginalised groups. Yet as a profession, we are not asking the big questions: Why is harm occurring?; Why are people from marginalised groups exposed to higher rates of harm than the general client population?; What becomes of the unacceptably high numbers of clients who come away from therapy having experienced harm?; What can we do to prevent and mitigate harm, individually and together?.

Using her own experiences as a client as a starting point, Erin will examine the key mechanisms that contribute to harm at all levels of the profession. Highlighting some of the most common causes of harm, as well as the roles of discrimination, oppression and whiteness in the harm matrix, she aims to explore ways we can proactively engage with harm from both preventative and reparative perspectives, structurally and individually.

Prepare to engage with one of the most uncomfortable, complex and necessary expeditions into the psychotherapeutic landscape.

About Erin

Erin is a therapist, writer, poet and activist based in Ilkley, West Yorkshire. She is a member of the Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility steering group, and has been a prominent figure in opposing the SCoPEd framework since 2019. Erin is interested in structural oppression, the dynamics of power, and harm in therapy.

After a harmful experience of therapy, it became apparent that the counselling and psychotherapy profession is remarkably reticent about discussing and engaging with harm in therapy, and after reading online about many other clients in the same boat as her, Erin realised that this needs to change.

Her ambition is to remove the taboo around discussing harm in therapy, to create spaces where therapists feel able to engage with this little-spoken-about aspect of the profession, and ultimately, to help therapists to examine their own anxieties and fears around harm, before inevitably, in our practices, we come into contact with clients who have experienced harm.

Erin is the author of ‘Harm in Therapy, an introduction for counsellors and psychotherapists’ (PCCS books, publication date TBC) as well as developing training and resources for therapists to engage with this crucial topic.

Erin blogs at, and can be found on Twitter @aclientfirst. She is also the current political columnist for Self & Society – the journal of the Association for Humanistic Psychology.