‘Special’ son, 22, died after ‘never getting over’ his counsellor using gravestone reference in therapy

A counsellor apologised to a client after using imagery of ‘a gravestone’ in a therapy session, a court heard today. Benjamin Davis then took his own life only a few months later, having ‘never got over that experience’, his father said.

During an inquest in Bolton today (April 13), private counsellor Avremi Rosenberg admitted that he should have used different wording in his session with Benjamin, who was 21 at the time. He also accepted that the language was ‘inappropriate’.

he youngster was also diagnosed with autism in 2021, assistant coroner Rachel Syed heard. After this diagnosis, Benjamin had five counselling sessions with Mr Rosenberg in spring last year.

And it was during these sessions in which Mr Rosenberg referenced a gravestone, Mr Davis said. He added: “I asked Mr Rosenberg about it and he confirmed he did [say it].

“My son is autistic and he cannot process things in the way other people do. If you mention a gravestone to me, it is okay, but if you mention it to autistic people they will focus on the picture of the gravestone.

“You have to be careful with language… they take things very literally. He told me that he started to think about death again after that. He never got over that experience. He was in a good place with autistic acceptance.”

When asked why used the imagery, Mr Rosenberg said he said ‘in the context that his autism diagnosis was… part of him but not all of him’. He added: “Benjamin approached me because he knew I was a counsellor with experience with working with people on the autism spectrum. In hindsight, this would have been better dealt with by the NHS. I did apologise to Benjamin for the way it came over.

“It was definitely not said in a blunt way. It was very much in the context that his autism diagnosis was very important and it was part of him but not all of him, and in that context what would be written on his gravestone. In the future whatever I can do to help you to come to terms about what has happened, I would properly arrange it. I express my sincerest, sincerest condolences.”

When asked by the coroner if his choice of words was ‘inappropriate’, Mr Rosenberg replied: “Definitely, yes.” Ms Syed said at the conclusion of the hearing that she would be writing a letter of concern to Mr Rosenberg’s organisation.

She also will be writing letters of concern to Benjamin’s GP surgery — Whittaker Lane Medical Centre — and Greater Manchester Mental Health Trust (GMMH). The coroner explained: “A formal letter of concern will be written to the GP, GMMH, and the private organisation, highlighting the need to ensure a more collaborative working approach between these organisations and sharing information such as diagnoses of autism.

Full article here

Source: Manchester Evening News, 14th April 2022

Published by CHARM Greater Manchester

CHARM, the Community for Holistic, Accessible, Rights Based Mental Health was launched by The Organic Recovery Learning Community in September 2020.

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