Counsellor resigns from centre's programme

Irish Times/October 20, 2007

A counsellor at the Roebuck Counselling Centre in Dublin has resigned from one of its programmes after admitting she requested large sums of money from people who sought counselling and other services at the facility, writes Róisín Ingle.

The counsellor, Claire Hoban, who is employed at the centre in Rathgar, Co Dublin, has confirmed to The Irish Times that she asked Dubliner John Hanrahan to pay €100,000.

Ms Hoban later sent him a text message expressing her concern that "intimate, shaming details" of the lives of the people who have complained about her to The Irish Times "will now be exposed."

The "Life Mentoring Programme", according to the centre, involves individuals paying €100,000 and getting a refund should they not make €1 million within two years.

Mr Hanrahan is one of a number of people who have made complaints to The Irish Times newspaper about Ms Hoban.

Mr Hanrahan said he first signed up for a training course at the centre and paid €3,300 but that soon afterwards Ms Hoban began asking for €100,000. He said he felt under pressure and came close to getting a bank loan for the amount.

Ms Hoban said he could pay the fee to a charity but Mr Hanrahan changed his mind after seeking advice from his accountant.

The director of the centre, Bernie Purcell, confirmed that Ms Hoban, a member of the National Association of Pastoral Counselling and Psychotherapy, had resigned from its "Life Mentoring Programme" last Sunday but described her as "extremely responsible."

The Irish Times also has details of other people who are unhappy about being asked for sums of up to €100,000 from Ms Hoban during dealings with the centre.

Dubliner Suzanne Campbell said she phoned Ms Hoban for one-to-one counselling but was told that service was not available at the centre.

She said Ms Hoban asked: "What is your happiness worth to you?" and requested €50,000.

A Dublin businessman who did not want to be named said he was put in touch with Ms Hoban for "business mentoring."

"Almost immediately she started asking for €100,000," the businessman said.

The Irish Times has established that none of these people were informed that the money would pay for a "life mentoring programme."

Ms Purcell, also a former director of the Rape Crisis Centre in Dublin, described the programme as one where "ambitious, astute" people pay a one-off fee of €100,000 for a two-year course during which they are entitled to a variety of counselling, business advice and practical training.

Ms Purcell said she found it hard to believe that people who were asked for €100,000 were not made aware of the "Life Mentoring Programme", but said she did have concerns about Ms Hoban with regard to her "communication skills."

Ms Purcell confirmed that Ms Hoban had not resigned from the centre altogether, but only from the "Life Mentoring Programme."

"It's an incredible loss," she added.

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