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Letter by Guy Gladstone, published in The Psychotherapist UKCP Summer 2006. Ipnosis readers may be interested/amused to note the excerpts from UKCP Chair Lisa Wakes' response following the letter.

Dear Editor

I must take issue with the continuing misrepresentation of state regulation as “statutory regulation” (“Statutory regulation - Will it ever happen? Lisa Wake Issue 30). The proposed instrument of regulation is an already existing state body, the Health Professions Council, there is no statute for psychotherapists on the way. Confused soundalike terminology functions here to prevent clear thinking about the consequences of accepting HPC as an appropriate regulator of the profession. There are serious concerns, acknowledged by Lisa Wake, that conclusively placing psychotherapy under the medical and bureaucratic model of HPC will have a terminal distortive effect on practice.

Two processes are now proceeding in parallel as reported in the last issue, namely negotiations with the Department of Health, who apparently will only consider regulation under the Health Professions Council, and negotiations underway within the UKCP to reorganize into Colleges with an Independent Complaints Organisation. These two developments are presented as if they are more independent of each other than perhaps they are.

As a psychotherapist and observer of professional politics, I look to make links that take into account both what is not said or reported and what is. Is the real purpose of and essential driver for this internal restructuring of UKCP firstly to fit anticipated HPC requirements for the definition of roles, competencies and evidence – based practice (in my view dig your own grave), and secondly to divert enough attention from that HPS destination to enable state regulation in this form to be presented as a fait accompli.

Before any such major reconfiguration of the field is concretized then surely there needs to be a fuller and more open debate involving all registrants to determine what they actually want. Has this occurred? Will it occur? Psychotherapists in private practice, the majority may well derive no benefit whatsoever from state regulation of the HPC variety. Psychotherapists within the NHS may feel they cannot escape it and hence find it difficult to accept others continuing to practice unencumbered.

Let us briefly recall the recent unflattering history. The failure of Lord Alderdice’s bill for the Statutory Regulation of Psychotherapy as an independent self-regulating profession is no longer talked about. But its ghost is evident in the recurring reference to “statutory”, – at least nine spread across three articles in the last issue of the Psychotherapist. Is this careless language or a fudge by which the disappointment is spinned away, on the principle that that if you repeat something often enough people will start to believe it to be the case. After all, subordination to the HPC is a sorry and demeaning substitute for that grand enterprise. Alderdice’s attempted putsch was rumbled by the BAC who promptly converted itself into the BACP. UKCP has reacted by extending its registration to include counsellors. Tit for tat perhaps? But a headache for the proposed colleges.

History repeats itself in this field as in others. Thus one might usefully ask who now wears Lord Alderdice’s cloak, trying to control the field, no longer by collaring a title (it took a Lord to try that) and cornering the market, but seeking to redefine the nature of the activity itself, boxing it in, an arguably vain act of “control-freakery” and to what purpose? Who?

“Grandmother” exclaimed Red Riding Hood, “What big teeth you have”, “All the better to eat you up!” At that the wicked wolf threw himself upon Little Red Riding Hood and gobbled her up too.

Guy Gladstone

Excerpts from Lisa Wake, UKCP chair’s response.

‘Provision is made within the Health Professions Order 2001 for the immediate regulation of any profession i.e. a statutory process that will enable regulation by the State. Very clear messages have been received from the Department of Health, the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence, and the Health Professions Council that this may be invoked at any time.

The rationale given for statutory regulation rests with the notion that any Professional working in the NHS in a pay band of higher than Level 4 under Agenda for Change is deemed to be capable of causing harm to their clients - Psychotherapists are graded at band 8. (ipnosis emphasis) Statutory regulation applies to all within a professional group, not just those working in the NHS.

Ipnosis is edited, maintained and © Denis Postle 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006
August 11 2006

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