The following is a report of my experience with Carol Darby-Darton of: Dare to Care, 112 Mill Street, Toxteth, Liverpool
This report (below) was sent to the Directors at NADA GB, the agency who she claims to certify through. They opened an investigation. I have been offered a place on the Auricular Master Class with John Tindall the Director of NADA GB at The Yuan College in London, so everything has worked out swingingly – for me at least.
As an introduction, my name is Kate, I am 45 years old. I am a primary school teacher by profession (Bed hons) with a Masters in Online Education, and Diplomas in TEFL and Yoga Teaching. I enjoy learning, and I study for my own interest, rather than financial investment. In recent years I voluntarily have led scores of young ladies through the 12 steps of various fellowships, led a Peer orientation course in a local rehab Arts Centre, and taught yoga at another rehab. I have also been a SCUBA instructor and instructor trainer, and a First Aid Instructor and instructor trainer; so I am well versed in teaching techniques, and how to train people to teach; as well as having quite competent research skills.
The following sounds like a diatribe, and I cannot believe that anyone could possibly believe that I would tolerate the abuse I did, and not aggravate the situation. I have put in quite a few things that seemed silly and I easily brushed off at the time, since it seems to have been a cumulative effect that triggered her outbursts on Thursday and Saturday.
I remained calm throughout, even when under physical attack, and I am aware that my calmness was interpreted as arrogance. I do not react in stressful situations; my primary purpose nowadays is to help others recover.
I met Carol outside the mechanic’s garage near her shop on Friday 11th May, and she got talking about the Acupuncture course she was about to start, and explained how it is useful for detoxing people recovering from addictions. I explained that I’m in recovery myself and do a lot of work with girls in recovery, so I’d love to join. She told me it was £350, and to come on the following Saturday morning at 9am. She explained it started with a two day course, Saturday and Sunday, which would then be followed by 29 supervised treatments where I would be shadowing her.
I phoned on Friday afternoon to confirm, and she explained that all the free space were gone (I hadn’t known there were free spaces till then, but the other ten students were all there compliments of lottery funding via Asylum Link), and demanded to know whether I had the money. I replied that yes I did, in the bank. She said to come along.
I arrived on Saturday morning, 19th May at 8.50am, and nobody else was there except Carol and the cleaner, so the course didn’t start till nearly 10am when everyone had arrived, although I was able to watch her give a treatment to a lady suffering from cancer in the meantime.
At this stage she asked me to sign the course register with my name and postcode, and I questioned why she needed my postcode on a document which is kept in the open (and is the same format as her customer record book). Her response was that’s how it’s done! This was the only paperwork I filled in for her. In hindsight, I now have concerns that all who visit the shop have access to that information.
She also told me that I’d be shadowing her for 50 treatments. I reminded her she’d said 29 treatments when selling me the course, but that I was happy to do 50, since at that stage, shadowing a holistic therapist seemed like an ideal learning opportunity.
Carol started with her introduction to the course, reading exactly from the course manual she had distributed. During this time she was repeatedly in and out of the shop, catching passers-by to tell them about an accident which had happened the previous day a few doors down.
Carol had no electronic payment means, which I found out on arrival, so I said I would get cash later when we had a break. Five times throughout the day she was asking if I had got the money yet, although it was clear I had not left the course to go and get the cash. At the end of the teaching day, after most had left at 2pm, I went to the cash machine and brought back payment in full. I asked for a receipt and was told she’d print a proper one out for me later and give it to me on Tuesday. I handed her a brochure, and asked her to write it by hand on there, and she took a business card and wrote it on the back.
During the morning, Carol spent more time outside talking to passers-by than inside mentoring us. During one such break I went out with the other students to have a smoke, and Carol remonstrated with us for not being inside practising. We explained that we had practised over and again, but had no idea if we were doing it correctly, so were waiting for her to check. We were told to bring our silicone ears outside to her, which we did. After that I didn’t take any more smoke breaks, even when she was regularly leaving the class herself for a smoke and gossip.
Other students were also confused as to the needle placement, as the book was unclear (images attached). This was because the landmarks she had shown us didn’t correspond to the diagrams she had given us. Carol passed that off as the silicone ear being the opposite orientation to her diagram, and although the girls were still confused, they clearly felt it was themselves who were at fault, since they felt the teacher is always right.
On the first Saturday, Carol gave us all 2 packs of 5 sterile needles each with which to practise on our silicone ears.
On one of her trips outside on the first Saturday, Carol brought in a lady who she had picked up outside the newsagent shop who was buying cigarettes, having offered her a free treatment. Knowing E*** very well, we had some banter before and after the treatment, which she loved, so Carol told her to come back. I asked if I could use her as my guinea pig, and do her every week, and Carol said yes, as long as it was under her supervision. I asked if I could bring other friends as well, and she told me I should bring them all, the more the merrier, and I’d need them
On my subsequent introduction days, which were Tuesday from 10am till 2pm, and Thursday from 10am till 12.15pm, and conducted alone (Sunday was rescheduled due to the Liverpool Marathon) Carol instructed me to practise on my model, then was constantly leaving the shop, and talking to clients about neighbourhood gossip. Any time I would approach her to check my six needles, she would start talking to others, and wave me off telling me she was busy.
When she did manage to check my point location, she was always saying it was wrong, and kept telling me I needed to practise more at home. I asked if I could just draw the points on, her response was that I had to learn to do it myself.
On Tuesday I turned up by arrangement to do a day shadowing Carol. She gave me a treatment, then left the shop leaving me with two trustees who were in receiving treatment. I turned my chair to speak to one of them, who was telling me about his recovery from manic depression through holistic practises. When she came back, I stood up to speak to her, leaving my bag, ear and book on the chair. She went to the chair and started ranting about me making a mess, and that it was typical behaviour of alcoholics and addicts, making her space. I replied that if she had bothered to ask, which she never does, then she would know I had turned the chair to face the client and have a chat. I was embarrassed that she had broken my anonymity, and pointed out that I am NOT an addict, and have never taken any illegal hard drugs, but the client laughed, and she stormed out. That day I received very little tuition, except to do three needles on another student who came in at lunchtime.
On Tuesday she gave me six packs and told me to practise on friends. I was surprised, and asked her if she meant real people, just to be sure (since she had said I could only practise weekly on E*** under her supervision)., and she said yes. I said “I would stick them in my husband, then, instead of a knife”! Although this was clearly said in jest, Carol did raise it as an accusation on the following Saturday, shouting in front of the class (and my husband who was listening from outside) that I’d been threatening to knife my husband. He was the only one who actually found that funny, due to her tone.
However, he was actually overseas, and I didn’t manage to practise on any real people, which annoyed her on Thursday when she asked specifically how the practise on my husband had gone. At the end of Thursday, she gave me a further six packs of needles to take home, telling me to practise on people. So on Thursday evening I practised on a friend who is a nursing assistant at a rehab clinic.
That day she checked my needle placement four times, and observed me do a three needle treatment on one student who dropped in. She barely spoke to me.
On Thursday the same trustee came in and asked how I was doing. Again, Carol was outside talking, and I was waiting for her to check my point location in the silicone ear. “Apparently not very well” was my response. He asked why, and she butted in, “point location. It’s all about point location. She’s just not getting it, she needs to practise more.
I asked her how I was supposed to practise and check my point location when she was too busy to check for me, and she said to use the book. I said my needles were placed according to her book, and suggested the point locations she had drawn might be wrong. This angered her. So I traced one of her ears, and asked her to draw the point locations on as she was teaching them (image attached). The point locations she drew were very different from those in her booklet, which I showed her for comparison, and I explained this was why I was asking her to check. Again, this angered her.
This time I drew a tiny dot on the Shenmen point on the ear, exactly where she had stuck a needle to show me. I went inside, placed the needles again, and brought it back to her. She removed my needle, moved it up about 2mm, and told me it was still wrong, I just wasn’t getting it. I pointed out the dot I had drawn on her location, and she put another needle back there, grudgingly said it was fine, and snubbed me away.
Later that morning, she was complaining to the trustee who had asked after me how difficult and demanding I was, and that she had never been talked to in such a way before. I objected, saying that my questions were all reasonable, and that as I was paying £350 for a course, I did expect to receive at least some tuition in return. She lost her temper, stood up, came and towered over me and started shouting, mostly that in all her years she had never been talked to like that. I remained seated and passive. I asked her to calm down, and she again stormed out.
When she returned, she ignored me. I took my ear over and asked her to check it, in front of the trustee. She did so, acknowledged it was perfect, I apologised for upsetting her, gave her a hug which she returned, and then left; as I thought on good terms. As I left she told me that she was starting later on Saturday, at 10am; since she thought it was too much for everyone else to make it there at 9am. I thanked her, and left.
That day she checked my silicone ear three times. She barely spoke to me, but spent every possible opportunity complaining about me to trustees and customers (all of whom I got on fine with when she was out of the shop).
The following Saturday I arrived at 10am, on the dot. When I arrived, about a dozen people were already there, some students and a few clients. The students already had their ears out, and were practising, as they had clearly started at 9am. When I walked in there was deathly silence, and she was doing a treatment in silence, so I sat down. I realised I had left my book and ear outside so quietly went to get them. On my return, still deathly silence.
(It turned out she had told the whole class I had been aggressive towards her, and stolen an ear and some needles out of the glass cupboard [the ones she had given everyone as part of the course]. She had also told them I had been rummaging through the drawers, which was again not true. This became apparent later.)
My friend E*** came in a few minutes after me, with my husband (they had been smoking outside after I went in), and stood politely by the door. She turned and shouted at them “What do you want here?” E*** replied she wanted to ask about the course, and Carol shouted at them both “What do you want?” Embarrassed to say she was returning for the treatment, that Carol had told her to come for every week, E*** said she was here to ask about the course. I reminded Carol she’d asked me to bring clients for us to practise on, but Carol shouted at them “Get out, we don’t want your sort in here”. E*** ran (E*** is going through a hard time in early recovery, and with her son undergoing major surgeries). Carol and another woman went to push my husband out. I asked him to stay, as I thought I might need a witness, but he was physically pushed out.
She then turned to me and shouted to ask what I was doing there. Shocked, I stated the obvious, that I was there for the course. She shouted, in front of everyone, that I was not on the course any more, I could get out. I said I would like to do the course, but I’d leave if she gave a refund. She shouted there was to be no refund, and picked up my handbag and tea mug and threw them out of the door, then took hold of me and tried to pull me out. I remained seated. She threatened to call the police, I said please do. She grabbed my shoulders, slamming them against wall then trying to pull me up. It should be noted that at the time my arm was in a sling to immobilise it due to shoulder pain following a badly healed break. I remained seated.
She repeatedly shouted at me to get out, I repeatedly replied I would leave when she gave me a refund, or at least a letter saying she’d refund the money. She refused, saying I’d had three quarters of the course, I wasn’t getting anything. She went for my study bag, so I it picked up and threw it out of the door for my husband to look after.
When I was up, several of the students grabbed me to try and physically push me out. At this stage Carol kicked me. She was to my left, and kicked me hard on the back of my right thigh (photo of bruise attached). Three of her students pulled her away from me, and I sat down immediately on the floor. They threatened to call the police. I told them, please do.
As we were waiting, other students accused me of having taken photos (which many people had been doing, especially of her posters, which she told the group to do) but I only took one photo, on the first Saturday, of the manual she had on her counter. She had snatched the manual away, and told me to leave that alone, all I needed was her handout. I had asked if she minded me doing my own research on acupuncture, and she grudgingly said no. Then I had explained that I’d simply thought it would be a good idea to start with the manual she herself was using. The other students said Carol had told them I had been stealing (needles and the ear), and rummaging through her cupboards. None of which was true.
Other accusations included me questioning her ability, being late that morning, having no respect, scoffing the buffet she had provided on the first day (I’d had one banana and four sandwiches). She also spent a fair amount of time slamming E*** for being a dirty low life; and accusing her, me and my husband all of stinking. When I asked her is that how she treated alcoholics and addicts in early recovery, again, she flared up.
As we were waiting for the police to arrive (I was silent for the duration, except to defend myself when she was spreading lies about me to the students); I observed her instructing students to give each other treatments without sterilising their hands, and walking around with the contaminated needles bucket. She would not supervise the needle placement, but would come and move the needles afterwards. It was also standard for her to give clients ONE wet wipe (not sterile wipes) after treatments to clean their ears, often transferring blood from one ear to the other.
I’m not sure if that’s a health issue… but when I questioned the practise on the first Saturday I was told it’s their own ears, it’s not like they’re gonna catch anything. When I pointed out it wasn’t only about the risk of spreading bloodbourne pathogens, but also the issues with spreading infection from one ear to another, I was told to shut up, I don’t know what I’m talking about.
At one stage I stood up to use the bathroom. Carol shouted NO, and three other students followed me in, one of whom was trying to physically pull me back. She refused to allow me to shut the cubicle door, so I was forced to pull my pants down in front of her, at which point she ran off shouting how disgusting I was, and I was able to shut the door.
Any time I would respond to her, she would start shouting at me, and kept charging at me again, but was thankfully restrained by the other students. Her verbal abuse was extensive, including shouting that I was a white supremacist bitch. I do believe that a large part of her reason for being unfair to me, apart from the humiliation of not being able to answer simple question (such as what were the sticks in her detox tea) was prejudice, as for much of the duration of the course she was sniping about the white people oppressing the blacks.
Much of her shop is covered in Black Lives Matter propaganda, and very little holistic healing information. She was clearly prejudiced against me from the outset, since I clearly come from a more privileged background than most of the girls she was teaching. This, of course, I can’t prove in court, any more than I can prove she attacked me or was abusive towards me throughout the course.
At around 11.45 three police officers arrived, and I explained the situation. They said that they were unable to help me with the refund, as it was a civil matter, and gave me directions on how to use the CAB to start civil proceedings, recommending I take the issue to Court.
They also said they were unable to make a report of the assaults, since there were 12 others in the room who would deny it. They escorted me out, my husband and I had a chat with the officers (mostly about the problems of not being able to help victims of gang crime due to lack of evidence), then left.
I thank you for your time and patience in reading all of this.
I am well aware that this largely stemmed from Carol’s embarrassment at simply not knowing the answers to anything outside her own experience, but at NO stage was I rude or argumentative. My objective is to learn, and quite frankly Carol was not interested in teaching me.