The role of Therapy Works in the Islamabad murder, under investigation

Hina MasoodWeb Editor

25th Jul, 2021. 04:29 pm

ISLAMABAD: Following the heartbreaking murder of a young woman in Islamabad, a famous therapy and drug rehabilitation centre in Islamabad has come under fire.

Soon after the tragic murder of 28-year-old Noor Mukaddam became public, it was learned that the accused, Zahir Jaffer, had previously worked at Therapy Works, a well-known rehabilitation centre.

Therapy Works will be blocked, according to Deputy Commissioner Islamabad Muhammed Hamza Shafqaat, as the authorities continue their investigation into the murder.

In recent years, Therapy Works has become well-known in Islamabad. Many people now believe the organisation created its reputation by unscrupulous techniques, such as making a false representation about its association with an international accreditation institution.

Following the news of the alleged murder’s connection to Therapy Works, some people claiming to be former Therapy Works clients have taken to social media to share their traumatic experiences.

Some claim that if they did not follow the therapist’s directions – instructions that had nothing to do with their counselling sessions – they were given bad reviews. Therapy Works used these reviews to determine whether or not a patient needed to be admitted for treatment.

Some said they were sedated and that their stay would be extended beyond what was necessary in order to inflate bills.

However, the charges that the credentials awarded by Therapy Works were not earned are even more serious. The centre is accused of issuing degrees to persons to conduct treatment without following the proper protocol, which would ordinarily include a psychiatric evaluation and background checks.

Reportedly, Zahir Jaffer was in the possession of one such diploma.

Therapy Works recently published a social media post supporting their ostensibly strict approach for becoming a registered therapist. However, it was apparent that anyone from any background, regardless of past educational or professional experience, could enrol in the course and become a qualified therapist.

Take, Zahir Jaffer for instance. He was a licenced ‘psychotherapist’ at Therapy Works, according to reports. Zahir had not completed his course work and was never authorised to contact clients, according to the organisation, which posted a statement on Twitter after his suspected involvement in the grisly murder of Noor Mukadam came to light.

There are also photos from 2019 that identify the accused as a counsellor at Therapy Works after he delivered a programme at the Islamabad campus of a well-known schooling business. These appear to contradict Therapy Works’ claim that he was released in 2018.

Therapy Works has yet to provide a clear explanation or statement in response to the multiple claims levelled against it.

However, the centre wrote on its Facebook page that “unverified and unsubstantiated false allegations against Therapy Works, doing the rounds on Social media instigated by a few individuals, which will now be met by the full force of the law.”

Meanwhile, the focus on the suspect’s relationship to a well-known therapy centre on social media has revealed that Therapy Works, which claims to be recognised by the British Organisation of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), is not a member of the professional association.

According to the BACP, it encourages and facilitates research in order to generate reliable practise, and it is an organisation that assures therapists adhere to particular standards in order to protect people seeking treatment. BACP announced in a recent tweet that Therapy Works is not linked with them in any manner.

“Hi, thanks for bringing this to our attention. We can confirm that this organisation is not a member of BACP, and we have contacted them to ask they remove the BACP logo from their website and other advertising materials,” a recent tweet from BACP, issued in response to a query, makes clear.

Incidents like these tarnish the reputations of ethical and certified practitioners and discourage Pakistanis from getting mental health help.

The entire storey demonstrates how, in the absence of a check and balance, health-care organisations can take advantage of the vulnerable.

Therapy centres should be scrutinised to ensure that only accredited and qualified therapists are hired following thorough background checks. Noor’s terrible death has brought attention to the necessity for the government to be held accountable for its unchecked actions.

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