Otago Polytechnic
Maurice Vaughan 0478

Asking the tough questions

Maurice Vaughan

When women’s refuge Pioneer Erin Pizzey made the statement that “women in refuges are systemically violent to each other and staff,” she was subsequently ostracised from the counselling community for daring to present a forbidden narrative that women could be as violent as men. This is just one example of what Maurice describes as a “history of rigidity within counselling professional bodies” and a drift “towards moral certainties and preferred narratives”.

 In 2014, Maurice Vaughan published a column in Psychotherapy in Australia about the work and career of Erin Pizzey, an English family care activist who started one of the world’s first women’s refuges in the United Kingdom. Maurice’s column provided an insight into the political and personal struggle of Erin Pizzey as well as the politics of domestic violence and the counselling industry as a whole.

Maurice believes that it is important that the industry displays an appropriate scepticism of itself, and continues to engage with critiques presented from clients, society and other professionals.

“We have a moral and ethical obligation to rationally examine ourselves. We need to be able to effectively model the behaviour we teach our clients,” says Maurice.

Maurice’s research is at the cutting edge of current clinical thought. “It simply isn’t true that counselling is only ever useful and never abusive or contraindicated. Over the decades we have seen minority groups, including indigenous cultures and the homosexual community questions modalities which work in discriminatory ways. These challenges will continue to present themselves and we need to remain responsive and open to them.”


Vaughan, M. (2014). Erin Pizzey and the forbidden narratives about domestic violence. Psychotherapy in Australia. Vol 20. Number 3. May 2014.