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From the June12th 2005 edition of Ipnosis

These last few months Ipnosis has been minded to quit taking an active interest in the politics of UK psychopractice.


A sense of disgust (see the editorial opposite) that bullying and institutional turf wars continue to be features of the psychopractice landscape. As though domination games are a clinical problem when clients suffer from them but tolerable when your professional institution engages in them.

A perception of overwhelming passivity on the part of tens of thousands of counsellors and psychotherapists who haven't figured out, or don't care, that through their bystanding and collusion they are letting loose a damaging framing of their work by the state. Who don't yet see that just like spirituality, psychopractice needs to be separate from the state.

Continuing astonishment, colleagues, that so few of you fail to realize the extent to which you are being spellbound by a professional leadership that uses trance inductions as though they were the best thing since sliced bread.

However, Ipnosis has decided to stay on the case, partly because of the numbers of people who look at this site and partly because of the astonishingly blatant trance induction of the recently concluded mapping exercise by the UKCP and BACP.

In case you haven't come across it, take a look at the framing of this 'research' in its web version.

No need to read the text, (if you haven't seen it, a transcript of the web questionaire is archived here) look at the title, which appears on every screen of the web questionaire, Towards the Statutory Regulation of Counselling and Psychotherapy, insinuating once again that statuory regulation is on the way, i.e. is inevitable. This is a trance induction, it intentionally narrows the focus of the reader, disallowing discernment and discrimination.

The entrancing framing of the questionaire is supported by the curiously ambiguous image, four out of five persons seem to be people of colour, what is the intended resonance? Who are they? Clients or practitioners? Are they... NHS employees?

Such spellbinding imagery and text once again short circuits consideration of the lack of evidence of harm in the present arrangements, (except in the already regulated medical sector that failed to notice Dr Shipman), in the lack of any coherent body of evidence that statutory regulation would be beneficial for clients or practitioners (if you know where it is, send references to ipnosis) and in the 'ignoring to death', as many of us have found, of the considerable weight of evidence and opinion that, on the contrary, statutory regulation would be harmful and ineffective. (read about it here)

If we break the questionaire trance what do we find?

Ipnosis has divined that, in an attempt to head off UKCP's more up market take on regulation, BACP approached the DoH for a large piece of money to do a major scan of what the counselling/psychotherapy field actually amounted to on the ground. The DoH insisted on putting them in partnership with the UKCP, and didn't give as much money as they wanted—only enough to make a survey based on a 5% sample across the field.

The research seems to have been originally intended to concentrate on whether organisations have 'codes of ethics', and 'conduct procedures' and to 'map practitioners roles'. In practice its 'mapping exercise' research agenda appears to have been shaped by a DoH view that there was a direct correlation between training and roles, i.e. training as a psychotherapist leads to practice as a psychotherapist, and that plans for statutory regulation through the HPC were heading in the direction of being based on this presumption. Since both BACP and UKCP thought this was mistaken, they appear to have regarded it as essential to contradict such a DoH view through new evidence that, except perhaps in the NHS, there was little or no correlation between training and eventual roles.

Ipnosis further divined that, if as expected, the research outcome was successful in contradicting DoH assumptions, there was the intention of seeking funding for a much bigger research project that better matched the size of the task of accurately mapping the psychopractice field.

The results of the questionaire, will apparently be made available to the participants, though IPN has so far failed to find out when, or where, or in what form.

For Ipnosis, the most offensive ingredient of this mapping questionaire is the claim that this research is impartial, which suggests that the regulationist framing could be invisible to the researchers. This is supported by the the BACP's response to Douglas McFadzean, an IPN participant who asked about the research's objectivity.

Dr McFadzean asked how:

...BACP will ensure that everyone is given a fair chance to contribute to this exercise, particularly those agencies and individual practitioners who are not affiliated in any way to BACP or UKCP. How will you be contacting them? How will BACP ensure objectivity and avoid favouring its own training and regulatory structures?

Sally Aldridge, BACP research co coordinator, responded in part:

'...The question of any bias in favour of BACP's regulatory processes, or the processes of any other professional body in the field of counselling and psychotherapy does not arise...' (emphasis Ipnosis)

...The methodology for the mapping exercise is designed to ensure fair representation for all groups within counselling and psychotherapy. We are aware that some groups have more members than others however we will avoid bias or the dominance of one group through statistical analysis. The analysis that will be applied to the findings has the ability to identify significant differences between groups, even when the groups are of an unequal size

How curious that a research project framed, as it has been in the web image and headline above and apparently intended to support, or contradict, a narrow assertion about psychopractice—that training leads to practice—could be held to be without bias.

Lastly, in support of long-standing Ipnosis contention that the regulationists are seriously deficient in their education and training around power issues, there is the question of why this is old paradigm research, i.e. research on people when, outcomes of such research seem often to be overwhelming likely to favour the research framers priorities.

Why not new paradigm research, cooperative, participative enquiry? Research with people, an approach to research that you might have supposed would be the first preference of people asserting the righteousness of their quality assurance and their standards of competence? We are after all talking about psychotherapy and counselling—peoplework. Trouble is, such cooperative research might come up with unexpected, off-message findings, such as that many practitioners are unconvinced that statutory regulation will be good for either clients or practitioners but who don't yet know how to stop the juggernaut.

However, there has been one valuable outcome from this 'research'. Here it is:

This listing on the DHCP questionaire appendix of UK accrediting/training organisations marks the first time, so far as Ipnosis is aware, that IPN has been visible on the UK psychopractice landscape. How did we get there? Read this account from Ipnosis.net in March.

June12th 2005

for all previous articles in ipnosis

for all previous articles in ipnosis

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