a journal for the Independent Practitioners Network
Ipnosis presently has more than 2000 visitors a month
home | archive | feedback |

Email 1/6/2006 from Heward Wilkinson, UKCP, re: The UKCP Is Our Shepherd, We Shall Not Want...

Dear Denis

Of course our merry friendship is on my side completely unaffected by our robust disagreements, in which on your side I never experience either venom or controlling interpretative intent (unlike some others I could mention.... and you have plenty of experience of that!).

This is a first step to a response and I would be grateful if you could put it on the Ipnosis site, as a response to yours - and obviously you can respond also!! I am copying in one or two people, such as Del and Lisa Wake, who are following the arguments.

Second: I am interested in what you omitted from your response. I think these discussions get so polarised that it is very easy, for someone who is accustomed to a stock response, to misconstrue something different (look at the struggle to both block, and communicate, going on at present between the US and Iran!), - and I do think you have done this. And, because, despite the formal difference, which is as such unbridgeable, as between SR and no SR, there is much to play for in all of this, I think I need to point this out to you.

Eg you completely overlook the last part of my presentation (which is on the powerpoint


but which I couldnt present at Roehampton because of the powerpoint system failure), where I begin to articulate a meta-model of the field, which could genuinely articulate it in curricular terms without reductionism , for instance - you instead have to talk about ''the reduction of the field to competences, learning outcomes, occupational standards'' .

My argument may be right and it may be wrong, but it IS the argument that a non-reductive account IS possible in terms of training standards and their translation into competences. And you have not provided any argument as to how anyone can avoid an analysis - which may well of course be implicit - in terms of training standards. For instance, I think the mutual validation of your groups, which David Tuckett rightly commended, would in practice, if many of us (in HIPS and other sections anyway) sat down with you, would be about consensus about subtle criteria which are not ineffable, as we many of us experience in our supervision peer groups! And whose test is ultimately that they are teachable - by all means by as Socratic and non-directive a method as you may choose - but teachable!

In other words you side-stepped my argument instead of answering it.

In general thats in line with your preference for good knockabout polemic over dialogue - even when it is being offered by the other side.

I think also you might have responded postively, instead of dismissively, to my remark about the anti-regulatory impulse in us all!! That was a genuine gesture towards IPN and its role and it was friendly and not hypocritical. Whatever the outcome of all this, we need to preserve as much of the intent of that as possible. Paradoxically, if I may say so, the psychoanalytic version of this can be so involuted and solipsistic, that we need IPN to represent that bit of the argument realistically.

So I think you are insufficiently attentive to considerations of 'negative capability', and holding opposites together, in your analysis.

As regards the state owning our souls, I suppose you also think we do live, in the UK and the US, in a state which is run on libertarian assumptions and so that a 'least worst' model is beside the point!!! I believe we now, alas, and for the foreseeable future, live in a corporate state where the nearest we can get to libertarianism needs to be incorporated in a different way.

As regards inauthenticity I am not quite sure you are disagreeing.

You quoted me: ''The great sin of psychotherapy – a sin we have all committed! – is inauthenticity, the subjection to some system of technical terminology,'

and then went on:

Here is another bit of bankrupt universalizing. Don't many people take up psychopractice as a continuing search for authenticity i.e. as a vocation or calling? And why should psychotherapy education, all of which is an extension of learning to ride a bicycle, have to carry this burden of sin? Are playing scales on piano sinful?''

True! and the challenge in psychopractice is authenticity - the profession is in a sense, as the professionalisation and plutocratisation of the personal, inherently inauthentic. A problem we all face. The mere aspiration to authenticity is no guarantee, surely. Isnt that the central question of this type of work, precisely, how do we enable authenticity? As you tacitly admit in talking of 'search' here. And the denial of the problem of authenticity, or the riding roughshod over it, as if it were an easy matter, is part of the problem. And, in that light, who, in talking about 'riding bicycles', is being reductive now?? Surely here I am being more faithful to the paradoxes and subtle process of psychotherapy?

You also failed to note, when you insistently called attention to the emphasis on 'science' in James Pollard's document, that I, again non-standardly (for the moment!), am offering and arguing for, a model which places philosophy and art - phenomenology in the broadest sense! - in a more fundamental position than science (which is not to attack the relevance of science, on various models, to psychotherapy, simply to ground it), and that my whole point was that 'competences' can be so defined, non-reductively. How do you think today's universities define standards in learning literary criticism? Sometimes of course reductively - but it isnt an automatic or necessary consequence.

It really isnt good enough, when you are up against an actual argument, to dismiss it as mere 'trance induction'! Or the other elements in your rich repertoire of knock-about responses!

Frankly, Denis, you write as one who has never inhabited your opponent's position, even in a devil's advocate way. I certainly have. That is why I spoke of IPN as I did. As I kept trying to say, to those at Roehampton who were attacking me, and UKCP in a reflex and pretty visceral fashion, suggesting we are either fools or knaves, it is a call of political judgement, on both sides. No one seemed to get this. There is not a risk free position here, as you guys seem to think.

Who is holding the uncertainty here?

I think Roehampton was very important, as the first joint dialogue of all the major parties for a very long time, (and full marks to Del for achieving that). I hope it wont be the last, I hope it will generate further processes. As I have said, whatever the outcome of the process, it remains crucial to the process that the whole range of perceptions is represented, and IPN's position is essential, dynamically, to the whole (just as, despite your mockery, the Anglican church remains remarkable in the sheer range of versions of Christianity it accomodates, for all its many faults, hitherto, within it. Really Denis you shouldnt routinely sneer at so many of those who dont adhere to your paradigms! It smacks of real dogmatism.).

And, finally, I wonder, how would IPN actually deal with Transcendental Meditation, or Scientology, or the recent extreme statements, in the context of a man who has a national media base (Paul McKenna), by Richard Bandler:


What Sir John Foster wrote, all those years ago, 1971, remains appropriate:


Sir John Foster's main recommendation was quite simple:

''4. My principal recommendations (for which see Chapter 9 of this Report) are:

(a) that psychotherapy (in the general sense of the treatment, for fee or reward, of illnesses, complaints or problems by psychological means) should be organised as a restricted profession open only to those who undergo an appropriate training and are willing to adhere to a proper code of ethics, and that the necessary legislation should be drafted and presented to Parliament as soon as possible.

(b) that the fiscal privileges enjoyed by religious bodies should be reviewed with a view to at least restricting their availability to religions which not only satisfy the present criteria but also have a substantial following in the United Kingdom and engage in genuine and overt acts of worship."

His Chapter 9 remains a very good read, and, except that he is not aware of the range of approaches we now are, is very little out of date!

He also indicated that, on civil liberties grounds, any approach willing to submit itself to the above should be accepted.

"262. Finally, I should say that I disagree profoundly with the legislation adopted in both Western and South Australia, in turn based on part of that adopted in Victoria, whereby the teaching and practice of Scientology as such is banned. Such legislation appears to me to be discriminatory and contrary to all the best traditions of the Anglo-Saxon legal system. I cannot see any reason why Scientologists should not be allowed to practise psychotherapy if they satisfy the proposed professional body that they are qualified to do so, that their techniques are sound, that their practitioners receive adequate training and operate under a stringent ethical code, and that there is no hint of exploitation. If it is indeed, as they claim, "the first thoroughly validated psychotherapy", the profession will welcome them with open arms. And should its governing body decide, as has been done in many professions, that it is unethical to advertise for patients or to make unqualified claims to cure, I have no doubt that the Scientology leadership, if its sincerity is genuine, will be happy to conform to these standards."

(Slightly tongue in cheek! The whole report is fascinating.)

IPN, in virtue of its position (which, sorry, of course is not a position of an organisation - an old argument with you folk!), can do nothing else than rely upon the Common Law.

Which is likely to be more draconian than regulation.

You mock our efforts - which are making progress! - to move towards a Mental Health Council. This is not ideal - but it would be far beyond a Physical Health Professions Council (even if it was an autonomous segment of the HPC). And of course (as a Psychiatric Nurse) I have my problems with much standard Psychiatry - I could tell you may horror stories about some, too common, of Psychiatry's cavalier contempt for psychotherapy. But how on earth is that to be remedied without the security of a comparable institutional power structure? Which in our corporate epoch means Regulation. How do you think Nursing got anywhere in the UK or America to being able (partial as it is) to stand its own ground vis a vis medicine, without the apparatus of a Profession and of Regulation?

You and your colleagues are of the persuasion of those who would prefer no bread at all to half a loaf. And you buttress that with a blithe assumption that the Government would never have contemplated regulation, if the profession had remained so divided it was incapable of pursuing a coherent course in relation to regulation.

To say the least, that is a highly optomistic assumption. I personally think Blair does not want to leave office without having sorted out regulation - that is one of his aims. And Blair normally gets his way. Don't forget - we have Harold Shipman to thank for that!

We have to agree to differ. But please at least attend to my arguments, rather than engaging in a mainly rhetorical (and inadvertantly contradictory - that riding a bicycle example!) exercise.

Warm greetings to you as always!


Ipnosis is edited, maintained and © Denis Postle 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006
June 2nd 2006

Ipnosis June172006 Editorial

Ipnosis is weary of the sophistry of Heward Wilkinson’s response to the critical reviews of two of UKCP’s public documents posted above.

If the ipnosis responses to the ‘power over’, culture of domination of these documents seem ‘polarized’, ‘misconstruing’, ‘stock responses’, ‘knockabout polemic’, ‘routine sneers’, ‘reflexive attacks’, ‘dogmatism’, or a mere ‘rhetorical exercise’, or if ipnosis seems unable to ‘inhabit your opponent's position’, why might this be so?

In a book that should be read by everyone in UKCP, James C. Scott details the ubiquity of dominant and subordinate discourses. The dominant discourse tells stories to its constituents that reinforce the legitimacy of their domination, while marginalizing, side-lining, ignoring, or demeaning dissenting voices. And of course sometimes crushing or silencing them.

The stories of the people who find themselves on the end of this dominance, a subordinate discourse, tend to be preoccupied with surviving the dominant culture, i.e. avoiding or recovering from the damage it causes. And on occasion, active resistance. The subordinate culture learns that reasoning with the dominant culture doesn’t work, i.e. having a conversation with this culture without showing that you defer to, or belong to it, tends to be a dialogue of the deaf.

What can inhabitants of the psychopractice subordinate culture, the ‘weeds’, as a former UKCP chair described us, do? One important action, of which IPN’s ‘best practice accountability’ is an example, is ‘make the thing we want’. This matters because it helps avoid enemizing the dominance culture and provides an empirical base for validating assertions about accountability that contradict the dominant discourse on such matters.

Secondly, subordinate cultures can develop strategies designed to break or interrupt the trance-inductions of the dominant culture and the corresponding powerlessness of the spellbound subordinate culture. For ipnosis this has meant on the one hand ‘confrontation’, and on the other, finding an appropriate ‘voice’.

What does this means in practice? Confrontation doesn’t imply fighting, as might be supposed, it entails pointing out that someone doesn’t seem to notice that when they do X, I and others feel Y, that a consequence of their behaviour is Z, and would they please consider stopping, changing, or moderating it, or otherwise take account of our feedback.

For example, when professionalizers say ‘register now before it is too late’, I and others feel coerced and oppressed, we see this is as using fear of exclusion to force us into a regulated relationship. A consequence of this is that the incongruence of such an approach (this is psychopractice after all) undermines the credibility of the institution, leading to a request from us to stop or change this behavior.

For ipnosis, ‘voice’ means finding, when speaking about the behaviour of the dominant professionalizing culture, a low bullshit directness that interrupts the collusive, polite reasonableness of the dominance narratives; coupled with a technical ability, due to owning the means of production, to broadcast over the heads of the mainstream institutions, past them, to their constituents.

The dominant discourse of psychotherapy professionalisation is likely to find all of this irritatingly counter cultural. As though at a critical point in a cricket match some members of the teams joined spectators in playing football in the outfield. Curiously, as might be expected of psychopractitioners, they don’t see this ‘resistance’ as something to be worked through by the cricket captains.

Is ipnosis really ‘incapable of inhabiting your opponent's position’ as Heward Wilkinson’s response to the two review articles claims?

Ipnosis is certainly capable of admiring the lengthy, no doubt tedious committee work and the diligence and commitment that UKCP’s task of ‘putting together the pieces’ of psychotherapy regulation entails. However such admiration, as might be admiration for the British Empire, an analogous colonization of territory, is discolored by the damage that the UKCP’s pursuit of state regulation generates. Both are/were mistakes, not least for the people downstream of them. Ipnosis doesn’t have the stomach for inhabiting either position.

Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts

James C. Scott

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

for all previous articles in ipnosis