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Clients Claim Therapy Group Charged For Service

Sunday Business Post, January 25, 2004 by Paul T Colgan

Counsellors at One In Four requested money from abuse victims for therapy services in contravention of the organisation's own rules and guidelines, it has been alleged.

Colm O'Gorman, director of the sexual abuse victims group, said the group requested donations from clients, as was normal for nongovernmental counselling and support groups.

However, several victims of sexual abuse, who approached the organisation for counselling, have claimed they were asked to make a "donation" of €40 for a 50-minute counselling session. They said a further contribution was necessary if they wished the session to continue.They said the issue of money was only broached after the sessions.

O'Gorman said One in Four counsellors would never ask for further contributions and that the allegations did not make sense. "I'm deeply bothered by the claims," he said. "People are invited to make a contribution. If they are unable to pay then there is no onus on them to do so - certainly no one would be asked after a session. If it did happen I'd want to deal with it."

The group, which was founded by O'Gorman, who was himself abused as a teenager by Father Sean Fortune, receives more government funding than any other victims organisation. The group recently benefited from a €40,000 donation by U2. O'Gorman has an annual salary of €80,000 a year.

One victim, who attended a counselling session recently, said she was asked for money after the session was over.

Loretta Naughton claimed that at no point in the arranging of the session was money mentioned. She said she found the request for a donation deeply uncomfortable and that she was under the impression that the counselling would be free.

The organisation's website makes no mention of payment for its psychotherapy and counselling services. O'Gorman said that, while One in Four was funded by the Department of Health, its counselling services received no official funding.