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Independent Practitioners Network


IPN is a living demonstration of the form and process that ethically sound accountability might best take: face to face contact; peer and self-assessment within a peer-group context; responsibly ‘standing by’ others’ work on the basis of knowing them personally; congruence between the core values of therapy work, practitioners' working style, and IPN's network structure.

In November 2004 IPN celebrated ten years of providing an alternative form of accountability to mainstream psychotherapy professionalization.

The ten years have been recognized in a special issue of Self and Society featuring IPN, and several regional gatherings.

Recent years have seemed like a period of consolidation for IPN, the building of a positive programme, an exemplary form of psychopractice accountability - coupled with a vigorous and well-grounded critique of the false promises of professionalization.

At the root of both of these has been a increasing awareness of the importance of how mainstream psychopractice institutions manage power relations - and whether this is congruent with practitioners claimed approach to working with people. Too often it would seem they are not congruent.

As Arthur Musgrave puts it in the special Issue of Self & Society devoted to IPN:

'... In IPN what we have is an alternative model of accountability to conventional regulation. As it stands it is elegant (the basic framework can be described in relatively few words) and robust (IPN has spent 10 years developing it). The core structure takes account of unconscious dynamics. It tests practitioners' ability to form and sustain relationships independently of a hierarchical frame­work in which some individuals take - or are given - the authority to pass judgement on others' competence without at the same time being held to account in a reciprocal process.

In comparison with IPN's framework for accountability, BACP's and UKCP's are seriously flawed. BACP has an entirely paper-based regulatory framework in which those running it have no face to face contact with those they are accrediting, while training bodies in UKCP test relationship within a hierarchical framework. Neither of these organisations has built its accountability framework around the importance of testing practitioners' ongoing ability to form and sustain relationships in which questions of power are dealt with head-on. And yet the research indicates that the quality of the therapeutic relationship is the key determinant of a good outcome.

As IPN celebrates its 10th anniversary the moment has surely come for us to promote our approach to accountability. Our basic framework has stood the test of time. Even what is problematic about it - in this case the difficulty that groups have in forming two links - is an argument to counter those who want to claim that IPN is promoting a route to accreditation that lacks rigour....'

While as often happens with such innovations, IPN still lives on the margins of UK psychopractice, beneath the radar of the mainstream - if you want to know what ethically sound psychopractice accountability necessarily looks like, check it out.
IPN Briefing document
IPN User's Guide
ipnosis paper

November 27th 2004

for all previous articles in ipnosis

for all previous articles in ipnosis

edited, maintained and © Denis Postle 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003