The College of Psychoanalysis in conversation with the HPC
Ahead of the second two day meeting of the HPC [PLG] which was set to settle titles into the stately incarnations of ‘counselling’ and ‘psychotherapy’, the College of Psychoanalysis sent PLG participants a document cataloguing objections to the HPC regulatory process

This is one of the most eloquent and comprehensive rebuttals of state regulation eIpnosis has come across. Some samples:

As if this were not enough, an even more comprehensive statement of the conceptual and ethical limitations of how the HPC conducts itself has emerged. An account of a recent meeting between the College of Psychoanalysts and the HPC contains some brutal and unacceptable HPC realpolitik.

The HPC’s solution to the mindset logjam that regulation of the psychological therapies presents them with is becoming clearer - pull the wood out of the river and saw it all into standard health-care sized planks - and take steps to ensure what is left is seen as debris.

20 years of ethical hiatus. A celebration.
Skepticism initially to professionalization of the psychological therapies, later mutating into outright opposition to their industrialization, has a long history in this household. In a celebration of the value of this opposition, eIpnosis provides links to two articles whose 20th and 10th anniversaries of publication fall around this time.
Stealing the Flame written in late 1989, was a first statement of the emerging distortion and damage that professionalisation of the psychological therapies.

Published in late 1998 The Alchemist's Nightmare: Gold into Lead - the annexation of psychotherapy in the UK is a much longer and more detailed set of arguments against professionalisation and state regulation. It still seems a generally accurate account of why SR is not in clients interests.

Health Professions Council -
Value-free regulation?
At the centre of the present regulatory hiatus is the HPC, a statutory body with its origins in a government strategy of side-stepping parliamentary scrutiny by invoking Privy Council privilege (3000 times a year apparently). Despite this, as it continues to build and seek to expand its monumental edifice of rule-based reality, the HPC really does appear to believe that its operations are value-free. However, by the law of no light without shadow, its technocratic rationality, civility and reasonableness mask inner human herd behavior that is unimpressive – it’s two years behind with 'fitness to practise' hearings, hearings that can seem a travesty of justice - often keeping people in suspension for more than a year - putting people in the stocks and throwing what often amounts to frailty at them - plus the narrowly drawn rejections of client complaints against practitioners that eIpnosis has seen. eIpnosis has the sense that some of these HPC hearings may have become a convenient way for employers to get rid of problematic people without having to take care of them (aren’t these after all caring professions?) are the fitness to practise hearings often a substitution of the HPC for employment due process.

Are you are committed to, or unable to avoid joining this HPC process? Are you holding to the insider form of ambivalence about SR that this eIpnosis article examines in some detail? See why some people might see eIpnosis material as ‘excessive rhetoric’ and ‘disrespect’, or even as someone has claimed, ‘venting’.

And take a look at the careful detailed accounts of the HPC culture by Janet Low in HPCWatchDog. Hours and days spent inside the HPC looking and listening to what they actually do. What does this show? That the HPC process is mired in impossible contradictions. For instance all the items that would disqualify a therapist from accreditation: a studied ignorance of the ideology that it is rolling out and of the processes it is regulating, are structurally built into the HPC. Not only is the HPC somehow immune to the know-how about psychological processes that psycho-practice has discovered, it believes it should be ignorant of them. ‘What is transference?’ CEO Marc Seale asked me at a meeting late last year.

eIpnosis has become convinced that making a decision about whether to sign up or side step the HPC’s regulatory grasp requires direct experience of its culture. Reading their texts doesn’t do it. Go there. Attend the Professional Liaison Group meetings, show up for the ‘fitness to practise’ hearings. And as well as HPCWatchDog take a look at previous eIpnosis airings on the HPC culture.

Health Professions Council Special #1

Health Professions Council Special #2

Health Professions Council Special #3

Regulatory Rapture
From the subterranean war rooms of the British Psychoanalytic Council [BPC] there emerges an account of how they are contributing to the ongoing process of regulatory capture.

Take a look at this BPC web page and note the recurring mention (six times) of Peter Fonaghy. eIpnosis attendance at the PLG meetings (and the BPC page) reveals Peter Fonagy as the representative, or voice of Skills for Health [SfH] an organization whose National Occupational Standards for psychoanalysis and other therapies seen as downstream of them, will ‘feed into’ the HPC’s regulatory standards. The BPC’s not so hidden pride in their resurgence following the Alderdice Psychotherapy Bill’s collapse, is perhaps driven by their success in getting two BPC people onto the PLG, Peter Fonagy and Julian Lausada; while, under the auspices of Lord Alderdice, dominating all the key decision-making in SfH's taxonomising of the psychological therapies. A distortion and abuse of power, to cross fertilize this conversation, detailed in this College of Psychoanalysts item referred to earlier.

The last four or five paragraphs of the BPC text, under the heading Opposition to State Regulation, are infused with the special aroma of BPC process

After acknowledging the emergence of the Alliance for Counselling and Psychotherapy Against State Regulation, they conclude that the BPC’s embrace of regulation by the state:

'…is our own version of ‘the audacity of hope’. A re-heated debate on the desirability of statutory regulation can only serve to divert the progressive energies needed to take this vision forward into a desolate cul-de-sac.'

A Freudian slip here surely? Was the BPC unconscious actually trying to say:

A re-heated debate on the desirability of state regulation would be our own version of ‘the audacity of hope’. Otherwise the progressive energies needed to take this vision forward [will be] diverted into a desolate cul-de-sac.

Alliance for Counselling and Psychotherapy
Alongside all this has been the emergence of an Alliance for Counselling and Psychotherapy, a grouping that mixes long-standing and more recent regulatory refuseniks. Take a look at the Statement of Intent posted here. If you want to signal your support for it, sign up here. If you have been looking for ways to derail regulation join the Alliance, and anyway come to the April 5 Conference. Against State Regulation:
The Next Steps
Sunday April 5th 2009 11am-5pm
Haya Oakley, Brian Thorne and Andrew Samuels.

This is not another organization, more a collection of individuals united by the sense that HPCstyle regulation will be a disaster for clients and practitioners alike. Alliance outreach has up to now included ads in both BACP Therapy Today, February (and properly printed, in the March issue) and a leaflet in the the BPC journo.

United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy
And then there is the UKCP. A benign take on its present internal machinations might see them as pupation, the stage between the caterpillar and then… what? Butterfly? Moth?

Two key UKCP figures seem to be astride impossibly conflicted agendas. James Antrican, who late last year named what eIpnosis thought was a conclusive argument against state regulation: that the fixity of standards is fundamentally incompatible with the necessity of local contextual flexibility of ethical judgement. In a two horse scenario, James appears to be riding a registrant-route-to-post-regulatory-UKCP survival, as an organization becoming devoted to the expressed interests of its registrants. James also appears to be riding the UKCP trainers horse that, intolerably tormented by the cruel spurs of the SfH coteries, seems constantly on the point of bolting but of which he in principle holds the reins. A tough place to be.

For the second installment of PLG meetings Carmen Ablack replaced Kathi Murphy, who in the first meeting steadfastly tried to keep dissent from the whole HPC enterprise from being buried. It seems a pity that this chink of light from outside the regulatory bubble looks set to have closed.

Other gleanings from the UKCP include the hiring of a CEO on salary believed to be £100,000 a year and that there is a Political Committee whose work appears to be fielding the bizarre distortions of the SfH taxonomies of the psychological therapies, that continue to unfold in denial or ignorance of the Law of Unintended Consequences, see articles produced by Janet Low, and James Scott’s Seeing Like a State).

Rather than confront the gross abuses of power that were evident in the SfH process (they could have withdrawn until the SfH process was rectified) the UKCP political committee seems to have leaned towards appeasement and a desperate search for evidence-based practice that would satisfy the scientised approach to research that SfH represents. The trouble is, as eIpnosis pointed out a while back, appeasing the DoH with Science as Decoration could be held to have laid the foundations for the present debacle about what counts as validity in the psychological therapies. Outright opposition to a scientised approach to research and its associated evidence base would have been more appropriate - the research vessel has now left harbor with the steering wheel lashed to Professor Fonagy’s r.c.t. coordinates.

User Groups
Take a look at what Birmingham NHS Users currently have to say about their experience of mental health provision:

'if you are human and suffer from complicated human feelings or trauma aftermaths, CBT is like a gate made of clever feather that will be blown away by a powerful emotional wind of truth. Sooner or later.'

and the world.

Random Ruminations.
The eIpnosis metaphor of collaboration in the French Second World War sense, continues to seem an accurate evocation of participation in the Health Profession Council’s [HPC] Professional Liaison Group [PLG]. Such overviews attempt to reflect and image these events as a whole, rather than catalogue the ‘facts on the ground’. They are maps, an aid to navigation.

Here is another one.

The recent History of Christianity series on C4, had an excellent episode hosted by Michael Portillo, on the take-over of Christianity by the Emperor Constantine. eIpnosis has long had an interest in the early history of ‘Christianisme’ as the French call it, not least in how Jesus’s call for love in personal and interpersonal relations could have become so comprehensively corrupted and buried in the church that others later built. In the 4thC Roman empires the Jesus message of love was also intrinsically one of dissent from the values of the Roman imperium. In the first three centuries after Jesus the followers of his dissenting messages had moved from an array of house churches to networks of bishoprics, a culture of dissent threaded through the Roman rule.

Around AD300 Constantine abruptly adopted Christianity as the official Roman religion. It is not to simplify too much to envisage this as a shift in the western world from a diversity of pagan gods, to a focus on a single God. One that could be used to unify and define a merger of the Roman Empires (plural) of the time into one in Constantinople. Out of this diverse collection of ways of divining meaning in the human condition, a multiplicity of Greek, Egyptian, Roman, Jewish and Christian deities, the latter was captured by the state. More, it appears, for its political unifying value than for its spiritual virtues. As subsequent history and Michael Portillo’s video shows very well, this perversion of the Jesus message was then enforced down the centuries through wave after wave of oppressive orthodoxy.

Doesn't this have echoes and resonance with the current regulatory ethos? So far as the psychological therapies today embody love as a formative element of education and practise, as I believe they do, are we not in danger of a similar capture and imposition of a single (evidence-based-practise) vision by the present imperium? The HPO 2001 Section 60 order that the government is poised to use is to capture the Psychologists is an artifact of the Privy Council of the Queen. A monarch who still awards Knight Commander of the British Empire [KCBE] medals to worthy people.

All I have is a voice to undo the folded lie.
W.H. Auden
eIpnosis is edited, maintained and © Denis Postle 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009

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