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"Keeping out of it", or, "If I ignore it, It will go away" -and other strategies for rationalizing political disengagement
eIpnosis 'Fitness to Practise' consultant Charles Layton in conversation with counsellor 'Rose Budd'
State regulation of the psychological therapies continues to excite debate in some practitioners, however, many more seem content to leave to others, not only debate but decisions about the future direction of the psychological therapies.
This silent majority, of perhaps, 15 thousand practitioners, seem to have nothing to say in public, but what might they say in private?
We invited Charles Layton the eIpnosis Fitness to Practise Consultant to explore this with a colleague, counsellor 'Rose Budd' (not her real name).
CL: Hello Rose
Rose: Good to see you Charles
CL: Thanks for coming in. You said you had a message you wanted to tell us about.
Rose: Yes, it was an e mail message, from a counsellor colleague. She says:
'I believe it's really essential, that all forms of therapy and counselling be regulated. We have to prevent the cowboy therapists, and the dreamers, from messing with people's minds, and exploiting them, financially'.
The message seems to be getting through, that the state has to take control of the psychological therapies. What do you think?
Rose: I agree. It means recognition. Finally reaching our proper, Professional status. If we are state regulated, it means the state guarantees our work. What could be wrong with that?
CL: And more, work. More therapy for more, people. The government does seem to want people to get the therapy they need. To stop being sick. and get back to work.
Rose: It's great they are putting their money where their mouth is, making therapy available to more and more people.
CL: Do you think, Rose, being state regulated will make a lot of difference? Will clients notice?
Rose: No, probably not. But even if being regulated means lots of changes. we have to move with the times. If everybody else is made accountable, which is the way things seem to be going. Why should we be left out?
CL: Yes. But I suppose there are always going to be people who have problems with authority, who won't knuckle down, and listen to what their betters tell them. Trouble-makers. Like that eIpnosis website.
We must only let people who know what they are talking about, do the talking. The troublemakers. They don’t seem to understand that we have to work together to preserve humanistic values.
CL: They don’t want to understand.
Rose: And process, especially.
CL: That's right. Regulation is a process. Its terrible, that at this time, we have got a vocal minority of troublemakers, who dominate the debate, and even denigrate our leaders. The people we trained with, are in dialogue with government. We must present ourselves, as unified
Rose: And apparently. there are even people, putting up petitions, against regulation.
CL: Yes two of them.
Rose: Yes state regulation seems to bring out a lot of negative energy in people. My family and my clients take up all my time, I don't want to be bothered with 'the future of the profession'. I'd rather let others get on with that if they are interested.
CL: Yes family, friends, taking the dog out for a walk. That's what matters isn't it?
Rose: Exactly. Not all that intellectual head - stuff. And, all the argument that goes on. I hate politics, always have.
CL: Yes, Politics seems everywhere. It's like a disease. The clinical psychologists had a conference last year about psychological therapies in the NHS. Very political apparently. It was sold out months before.
Do you still go to conferences?
Rose: I do, I find it very reassuring when I go to a good conference and find that there are speakers who have really done their homework, their research, so that the rest of us can have the benefit of it.
CL: Quite a few counselors and therapists that I meet feel anxious that they are doing good work, that they know enough. Do you feel that?
Rose: Well there is a lot of talk about state regulation bringing in standards and what are they called, competencies? I think that's great because we could all do with improving how we work with clients and if people have really studied and found out what works best I'd like to know what it is.
CL: We are certainly going to have very good National Occupational Standards. They had a top professor, helping them, Fonagy, I think his name was, and Lord Alderdice as well.
Rose: Somebody showed me the National Occupational Standards for Counseling. Have you seen them?
CL: I have. Wonderful work.
Rose: There were 65 pages of them. I was well impressed. At last we'll know what we should be doing as counsellors.
CL: Yes it is wonderful. But you know, I'm really worried that people will get hold of the National Occupational Standards, and learn them off by heart, and start working with people.
Rose: Do you suppose they have thought of that?
CL: I hope they have.
Rose: Because we have to put a stop to the situation, where anyone can call themselves a therapist, get a lot of clients and make pots of money. All without any training whatsoever.
CL: The sooner the better. For example, somebody was telling me They'll have to cut this bit out... and then what they did was... And he was doing that with clients for years. Colleagues knew all about it but he got away with it. They couldn't agree on which organization was responsible for disciplining him.
Rose: Yes there's been so much arguing between the therapy organizations, it's gone on for years. Somebody had to put a stop to it, and its right that the government should be doing it on our behalf.
CL: And they've got in some very good people, that Mr Seale at the Council, the Health Professions Council. Very nice man, apparently before he took over he used to be high up in aerospace, and satellites.
Rose: Well Charles, I don't know what else there is to say. Colleagues at work try to get me interested in state regulation but for me in my little corner it is all too big, too far away, I just want to get on with my work. Like lots of people I could do with a few more clients but I get on well with the one's I have.
CL: And it is all about trust isn't it? We have trust ourselves, clients have to trust us. And we all have to trust the government to know what they are doing with this regulation business.
Rose: You know, Charles. I trained 18 years ago. They've been talking about regulation all that time. And I just switch off. When I retire, they'll still be talking about it.
CL: I hope people will take heed of what you had to say. You, and practitioners like you, have the future of counseling, and the psychological therapies in this country, in your hands.
Rose: Thank you, Charles.
CL: You are very welcome
Rose: If I can have the last word. We all have to be careful not to let our energy get caught up in other people's negativity. I sometimes think that like so many other things... all this talk about state regulation... it's just men, if you'll excuse me, locking horns with each other. They like having something to fight over.
Charles Layton was in conversation with 'Rose Budd' July 2008
This was an eIpnosis PsycholOdeon presentation written and produced by Denis Postle
For other recordings in this series, see http://ipnosis.org