While I was encouraged to see that an effort was made by Sally Aldridge (February 2006) to ‘address some issues recently raised by members with regard to BACP’s position on regulation’ (p34), unfortunately it failed to answer the specific concerns discussed in my letter (December 2005).
First, if Alan Jamieson did indeed write on 16 August to Andrew Foster at the Department of Health (as reported in Ipnosis 20, p27) that ‘there is little evidence to support [the] assumption [that statutory regulation ensures public protection]’ and that ‘the protection of a title, which is the main means by which statutory regulation operates, is proven to be ineffective’, then how does that square with Sally Aldridge’s statement (February 2006) that ‘Statutory regulation through protection of title and fitness-to-practice processes still appears to be the clearest way to achieve this [enhancing public protection]’ (p35)?
If, as I would prefer, the BACP executive chose in its contacts with the media, governmental departments and other organisations to represent the range of diverse perspectives found among its members, rather than just lobbying on behalf of those who support statutory regulation, then of course there would be no problem with the apparent clash I draw attention to above it would simply demonstrate the disagreements that exist in the profession. But Sally Aldridge strongly suggests in her ‘update’ that her view is BACP’s view: that regulation is the ‘clearest way to achieve’ enhanced public protection. So, I ask again, what are we to make of Alan Jamieson’s reported remarks?
My second and crucial concern is with the argument itself, that regulation will provide greater public protection. While I am aware that for some long-term members this debate is an old and perhaps tiresome one, such weariness does not make the issues irrelevant nor does it mean the debate has been ‘won’. Simply because the supporters of regulation believe and repeat something often enough, does not make it true. Every year new counsellors join BACP and from the output of the executive, as reported in Therapy Today, they might not be aware of the substantive objections to statutory regulation in the literature, nor the lack of evidence for the regulation = public protection line taken by Sally Aldridge in her article. Is BACP's position right, ethical or just? It is certainly not ‘evidence-based’. Nor, since there has been no ballot of the membership on the matter, is it particularly democratic.
‘Many practitioners want to be regulated’ (p35)? Well, Sally, many still do not. If BACP wants to be the voice of counselling and psychotherapy, it is about time you started representing us too.
Ipnosis is edited, maintained and © Denis Postle 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006