Letter sent to the Ethics Committee of the European Association of Body-Oriented Psychotherapists (EABP).
You can read Bodynamic’s response to this letter here.
Ethics Complaint Against Bodynamic Psychotherapists
Hadi Adam Bahlawan Marcher
Board of Bodynamic International
Roman Torgovitksy, Ph.D.
President and Founder, Healing War Scars
President and Co-Founder Warrior’s Heart
CEO and Founder, soma system®
I am submitting an ethical complaint against EABP members:
Hadi Adam Bahlawan Marcher
This letter summarizes problems I experienced while studying and working with Ditte Marcher, Director of Bodynamic International. I intentionally chose to skip over some details to shorten this letter.
In February 2017, a conflict started between Ditte Marcher and myself. The conflict intensified when I learned about several ethical transgressions Marcher had committed. I discuss these issues in this letter. Ultimately, this conflict culminated in the Board of Bodynamic International expelling me from Bodynamic Practitioner training.
Throughout this conflict, I repeatedly proposed conflict resolution and mediation first to Ditte Marcher and later to Lene Wisbom, who represented the Board of Bodynamic International (hereinafter, the Board). Both Marcher and Wisbom repeatedly refused to engage in conflict resolution. I informed Marcher and the Board that unless we set up conflict resolution or a mediation session, I would have no other choice but to appeal to the Ethics Committee.
I waited for more than a year, hoping that Marcher and the Board would have time to calm down and engage in conflict resolution. Unfortunately, my hopes have not materialized, and I have no other choice but to appeal to the Ethics Committee.
Below is just a partial list of the unethical actions committed by Marcher and the Board:
Exposing Psychotherapy Clients to Harm (violating EABP ethics principles #4/#8)
publicly exposing client’s traumatic experience & breaching client confidentiality (violating EABP ethics principle #4);
Teaching psychotherapeutic technique that endangers client to experience re-traumatization. Failing to critically assess safety of and collect data on an unproven experimental technique. Unscientific and religious confidence in effectiveness and safety of Bodynamic methods; (violating EABP ethics principle #8);
Providing Poor Quality Education & Potentially Harming Bodynamic Students (violating EABP ethics principles #2)
Marcher fails to practice what she “preaches.” Marcher and the Board avoid conflict resolution and mediation while teaching conflict resolution methods to Bodynamic students;
expelling student from Bodynamic training without due process;
expropriation of student’s funds;
providing unprofessional education materials containing multitude of errors to students;
employing poorly trained teachers to teach Bodynamic students;
failing to collect feedback data from Bodynamic students to improve training quality;
attributing conflicts between Bodynamic teachers and students to students’ character structure, and thus blaming students;
creating culture of fear and hopelessness among Bodynamic students;
Misleading Public and Professionals (violating EABP ethics principles #2/#2a/#8)
using sensationalism and exaggeration to misrepresent Bodynamic shock trauma training and its effectiveness (violating EABP ethics principle #8);
forcing non-profit to provide free PR to Marcher and Bodynamic International;
misleading public and professionals in Ukraine to believe Marcher was a volunteer while getting paid 1000 euros per day
misleading public and professionals in Ukraine by misrepresenting Bodynamic as a system recommended by United Nations.
Misleading Communication Practices (violating EABP ethics principles #2/#2a/#8)
repeatedly telling students and colleagues that Marcher’s “word is as good as written contract”. Marcher fails to practice what she “preaches”: avoiding written contracts in real life while teaching importance of contracts in Bodynamic training; making written communication practically impossible.
failing to deliver on verbal agreements;
Taking Advantage of Non-Profit
Introducing multiple roles, dissolving roles and boundaries to derive financial benefit from and take advantage of non-profit organization.
charging non-profit organization twice Bodynamic International’s commercial rate in Ukraine while being an intrinsic part of the non-profit organization.
Illegal Activity (violating EABP ethics principle #3)
illegally recording and distributing recorded conversations without consent
engaging in alleged tax evasion
Conducting Poor Quality Research on Bodynamic to Mislead the Public and Professional Community (violating EABP ethics principles #6/6c/10)
Improperly conducting research on the effectiveness of Bodynamic. Using the sub-par research to mislead the public and colleagues about Bodynamic effectiveness.
failing to disclose research study authors and provide acknowledgement
stealing data for research study
failure to disclose research funders
failure to disclose conflict of interests
hiding research results that show harmful effects of bodynamic shock therapy
misuse of research data and misrepresentation of program effectiveness;
Within the past couple of years a number of Bodynamic teachers were expelled from the Institute. Only recently I have learned that co-founder of Bodynamic psychotherapy, Erik Jarlnaes, and some of his students and assistants were also either expelled or had to leave the Bodynamic International.
I am even more motivated to write this letter to the Ethics Committee with the understanding that Ditte Marcher has a prominent long-term pattern of suddenly cutting connection and expelling a number of former good friends & colleagues. Unless EABP intervenes, Ditte Marcher and the current Board of Bodynamic International will continue harming people in the future.
Those of us who have been expelled and who have strength, stamina and time to protect our dignity will do so by appealing to the EABP ethics committee. But there are many people who have no energy to fight. These people came to Bodynamic International with the hope of healing their trauma. And these are the people who are and will be most vulnerable to be harmed by numerous unethical practices of Ditte Marcher and the Board of the Bodynamic International.
According to conversations with several (former) Bodynamic teachers, some of the current members of the Board repeatedly abuse dignity of Bodynamic teachers. As a result, some teachers leave, others are expelled and many others stay because they are afraid to speak up and stand up for their own dignity as well as for the dignity of their fellow teachers.
Many Bodynamic students are also not happy. These students strongly disliked many of the educational and communication problems they encountered while studying at Bodynamic International. They are afraid to come forward because they fear that they, too, would be expelled from the training. I do not believe EABP would want the new generation of students to learn in an environment of fear and hopelessness.
It has also been my experience that Bodynamic International has many beautiful things to teach and share with the world. If only the Institute could seriously consider criticism and feedback and move into the mindset of using this feedback to improve the quality of their offerings, both Bodynamic International and the psychotherapeutic community at large would greatly benefit.
Please note that I end this letter with section entitled “Requests” where I clearly state my requests to Marcher and Bodynamic International.
I thank you in advance for your attention to these issues and concerns. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions or need additional information.
Based on the letter I submitted to the ethics committee, I have the following requests for Ditte Marcher and Bodynamic International. These requests are on top of the
(1) A public and written commitment from Marcher and the Board that Bodynamic International will have written contracts clearly outlining deliverables for any work with non-profit organizations. Marcher will stop using the concept of “my word is as good as legal contract.” After all, it is self-contradictory to teach the importance of written contracts to Bodynamic students, while failing to write contracts for professional collaborations.
(2) Publish on the Bodynamic website:
Marcher’s CV with clear information on her education and places of work;
Marcher’s educational diplomas from various psychotherapy trainings she completed;
Documentation demonstrating that Marcher indeed worked at the UN and Doctors Without Borders;
Any formal agreement between UN agencies and Marcher demonstrating that Marcher worked with the UN and that Bodynamic methods are recommended by the UN.
(3) If there is no proof that Marcher worked at the UN or that her methods are recommended by the UN, then publicly display a retraction on the Bodynamic website. In addition, since Marcher spread this information in Ukrainian media, she should publicly retract this information via the same media channels on which she spread this information. An official apology would also be in order. In this respect, I use Marcher’s logic: when Healing War Scars or journalists failed to mention her name in interviews, Marcher forced us to still get her name into the interview. It is then only fair that if she provided misleading information to the public, Marcher should also, by her own methods and standards, publicly retract the information.
(4) In Ukraine, officially retract Marcher’s image of a volunteer and publicly state that within the past three years she was a well-paid contractor working in Ukraine, and that Marcher regrets she might have created an impression she was a volunteer.
(5) In regards to Bodynamic’s “running” technique:
Publicly disclose all injuries and harm that ever resulted from running to students, assistants, and teachers;
Explain why people who do not have sufficient body resource are offered to “run”;
Explain why titration is not used, when a recognized and published scientist and expert clearly warns that lack of titration may lead to re-traumatization;
Explain what Bodynamic International does to record potential side effects of running, and how it records the condition of trainees after training to detect any potential side effects of the technique.
(6) Make a clear public statement that Marcher does not religiously believe in the validity of Bodynamic and that the absolutely ESSENTIAL way to determine the effectiveness of Bodynamic is through scientific research and not through Marcher’s inner body sensations and beliefs about the validity of Bodynamic.
(7) Explain why, at a conference in Poland, Marcher attributed all work to Bodynamic at the time when trainings were conducted and paid for by Healing War Scars. Explain why there was no mention that veterans were exposed not only to Bodynamic, but also to other modalities such as soma system® and craniosacral therapy. Make a public apology that Healing War Scars was not mentioned during the conference in Poland, inform the conference participants that Marcher made a mistake, and provide attendees with the correct information.
(8) Bodynamic International commits to creating training materials that are well-edited and have no mistakes, both in content and in grammar. This should be supervised by an official from EABP.
(9) Explain how Bodynamic International plans to change the way they train Bodynamic teachers to avoid situations when teachers have poor preparation and make multiple mistakes when teaching.
(10) Acknowledge that on occasions Marcher explains conflicts with students by students’ character structure, thus completely taking responsibility off of Marcher and Bodynamic. Publicly acknowledge the problem and commit to stopping this practice.
(11) Marcher and Bodynamic International commit to collecting meaningful written feedback from students after each and every training session. Display this feedback publicly on the Bodynamic website.
(12) Publicly demonstrate tax returns showing that Marcher is paying tax on her earnings from Healing War Scars, Pobratymy, and her other trainings in Ukraine.
(13) Marcher makes a public apology for setting herself up to be paid €1,000 per day, or double what she is paid regularly in Ukraine, while being on the inside of the non-profit organization.
(14) Initiate an open public dialogue among Bodynamic students and teachers, so that all students and teachers are being heard and have an opportunity to express their feedback on how the Institute can and should change. Resolve the issue that many Bodynamic students feel that it is pointless to provide feedback because Bodynamic International is not ready to change.
(15) Publicly retract any and all statements made about the validity of Bodynamic shock trauma training based on faulty research studies. Make a public apology for incorrectly conducting the studies and thus misleading both the professional community and the public.
(16) In shock trauma trainings, Marcher acknowledges that the course was developed together Peter Levine. I would like to have an official statement that he is indeed a co-creator of the course. Does Peter Levine know that as a co-creator he is also responsible for the quality of the course? If Peter Levine is indeed a co-creator of the course, please explain why does Marcher claim ownership of the shock trauma training and why Marcher made Healing War Scars always state her name as creator of the training, and did not make us state Peter Levine’s name as co-creator of the training?
(17) Commit to providing email communication training to Bodynamic administrator Yorgos Piaditis, so that he learns to communicate politely. Ask Piaditis to commit to start communicating politely and with respect.
(18) Piaditis and Marcher publicly retract the accusation that Healing War Scars and I cut funding from veterans to involve them into a “war” against Bodynamic.
(19) Bodynamic provides me the opportunity to come back to the Bodynamic Practitioner training session to have a group mediation session, to correct the manipulation that Marcher committed by talking about me in my absence. This goes to the core of re-establishing my dignity, connection within the group, and resolving fear among students. At least some students were fearful if they were to contradict Bodynamic, they would also be expelled.
(20) Make a public apology to me and Bodynamic practitioner students for telling students Marcher’s and Bodynamic’s side of the story in my absence, thus pushing some students to feel disgust with me. Make an apology to the students for creating an unprofessional educational environment.
(21) Commit to publishing research reports only in peer-reviewed journals. Commit to stop manipulating public opinion by claiming that Bodynamic is effective based on poorly run studies. Stop claiming that Bodynamic is based on research conduced with tens of thousands of people; this research was not published and, supposedly, was lost. If Bodynamic wants to continue referring to this original research based on tens of thousands of people, it needs to publish this research in peer-reviewed journals and make the data publicly available.
(22) In her explanation about why she charged a non-profit organization €1,000, Marcher claimed that she has a right to negotiate any charge for her services. Explain how and with whom Marcher negotiated the fee for Healing War Scars, and describe the negotiation process.
(23) Make an official public apology from Bodynamic International and Hadi Marcher about recording conversations without consent. Public and written commitment from Bodynamic International and Marcher that they will change their policy and will stop recording conversations without consent.
(24) Marcher and Bodynamic International publicly recognize that it is not ethical to apply pressure on journalist to force them to mention Marcher and Bodynamic. Make an official apology to Healing War Scars and commit to never again apply any kind of pressure on non-profits or journalists.
25) Bodynamic International failed to publish results of research study conducted with Ukrainian orgnaization Pobratymy that allegedly show harmful effects of Bodynamic shock trauma training on veterans. I ask Bodynamic International to make the data and research analysis public and publish it on Bodynamic International website.I also ask Bodynamic International to provide public explanation on why they never made results of theses studies public as they have done with studies based on data collected by Healing War Scars.
I request Bodynamic International to refund some of the payments HWS and myself have made. 100% of the refunds will go to support a neutral non-profit of my choosing operating in Ukraine.
– R1: Since there was an agreement that the first training in 2015 will graduate four psychotherapists, and Marcher failed to deliver, we expect Marcher to refund all payments Healing War Scars made for training Oleh Hukovskyy. This includes payment for level 3 and 4 training as well as fees for Hukovskyy’s Turbo training.
– R2: Refund all payments I made for Bodynamic Practitioner trainings.
– R3: Compensation in the amount of $5,000 for the time I wasted on studying Bodynamic practitioner, the cost of flying to practitioner training from Ukraine to Greece and the nonsense of repeatedly being refused meditation from psychotherapists who supposedly teach conflict resolution. All the funds will go to a neutral non-profit organization to support their work with injured Ukrainian veterans.