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The Psychological Therapies in the NHS
Science, Practice and Policy
London, November 30 - December 1

Ipnosis struggles to do justice to this technocratic juggernaut, fully booked since mid-September. (For another perspective, see Janet Low's pre-review). See also The Hamburgerization of Personal Development for indications of what this approach to the human condition promises to deliver.

I'm simultaneously horrified and entranced by the line-up of people promoting and arguing about…

the challenge, and the opportunity, of evidence based practice for the psychotherapy professions

This is a conference that asks such apparently reasonable questions as:

As a conference it seems to Ipnosis less remarkable for the bringing together of…

…an exceptional gathering of leading clinicians, policy makers, academics and service users from across the UK, the US and Europe to consider the future of psychological therapies

…than for who are missing… the voices not present as key speakers or chairs. For example, no one from either the UKCP or the BACP, together amounting to 35k practitioners…

Apparently, claim the organizers…

This event takes place at an important moment for our profession, as it begins to take up an increasingly central position within a modern NHS.

Opportunities are promised:

…to engage with colleagues right across the sector…

Note the word sector, shouldn’t it have been preceded by market…?

Scientists, practitioners, policy makers, as well as those who speak from their experience of using services, will be able to join in what we hope will be a lively, thought-provoking exchange.

Take a look at the listing or persons below and the price of admission, £450, and make a guess as to how many client, let alone practitioner voices will be formative in these discussions of the market opportunities in the new evidence-based approach of NHS mental health.

Our objective is to help shape the intellectual climate in which a national strategy for psychological therapies can develop. We wish, in short, to foster a new, open and forward thinking dialogue around evidence based practice.

And here I fancy we come to the hidden agenda of the event. This is a sales conference. It is about ‘branding’, in the Nike sense. ‘CBT = evidence based = scientific = always works’, is the product, to quote Simon Ward.

Branding employs the phenomenon of trance induction to sell us a product. Through exposing us to a generic evocation of human aspiration, ‘blue sky’ ‘fresh air’, ‘happiness’, or ‘well-bring’ a seductive ambiance is created that disallows discrimination.

The speakers at this conference, so strong on the intellect of clinical psychology and scientific academia, seem equally asleep to the extent to which they are functioning like the skimpily dressed girls at motor shows draped across otherwise indifferent motor cars to entrance buyers, except that here they and their elevated status is draped across the bonnet of CBT. We are being invited not to notice that affect, intuition, embodiment, politics, spirituality, etc., etc., are being excluded from this technocratic snapshot of the human condition.

How could they be so misled? Perhaps because they hadn’t yet noticed that they appear to be fully paid up signatories to the MMABPS Manifesto which favours a MEDICALIZED, MARKETIZED, ACADEMICIZED, BUREAUCRATIZED PROFESSIONALIZED, SCIENTIZED, approach to the human condition. Yes they are ugly words but they match the ugliness of the narrow discourse they refer to. They have signed up to speak because at least unconsciously, they understand that this is a marketplace for business deals and that the key, if unmentionable business, is rigging the NHS market in favour of clinical psychology and CBT.

How can it be that so many people have forgotten or never knew that the human condition involves an embodied, affective, imaginal, communal climate as well as an intellectual one and even more, one where the relationship between client and practitioners is, on the basis of considerable ‘evidence’, the essential ingredient. And that psychotherapy and counselling and psychoanalysis would do well not to forget this.

Is all this Ipnosis hyperbole and windy polemic?

I don’t think so; scan the listing below of the great and good that feature on the conference programme… scientific intellectuality is overwhelmingly represented, as though for clinical psychology, human embodiment, power relations, emotionality, intuition and the imaginal worlds of projection and transference of the psychological therapies were non-existent fictions.

And if empowerment of the UK population in favour of greater well-being is intended, where are client voices on this list?

In the order in which they appear in the programme:

Dr Tony Roth
Joint Course Director, Doctorate in Clinical Psychology University College London

Professor Lord Richard Layard
Emeritus Professor of Economics Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics

Professor Peter Hobson
Tavistock Professor of Developmental PsychopathologyTavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust

Dr Andrew McCulloch
Chief Executive The Mental Health Foundation

Professor Susie Orbach
Psychotherapist, Consultant and Writer

David Crepaz-Keay
Head of Patient and Public Involvement
Mental Health Foundation

Professor Glenys Parry
Professor of Applied Psychological Therapies
University of Sheffield School of Health and Related Research

Dr Ian McPherson
Programme Director
National Institute for Mental Health in England (NIMHE),
Care Services Improvement Partnership

Dr Matthew Patrick
Trust Director Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust

Professor Robert Elliott
Professor of Counselling University of Strathclyde and Emeritus Professor
of Psychology University of Toledo, USA

Professor John Markowitz
Research Psychiatrist
New York State Psychiatric Institute, USA
and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry
Weill Medical College of Cornell University,
New York

Professor Lars-Göran Öst
Professor of Clinical Psychology
Stockholm University, Sweden

Dr Andrew McCulloch
Chief Executive The Mental Health Foundation

Professor Phil Richardson
Professor of Clinical Psychology
University of Essex and Director
Psychotherapy Evaluation Research Unit,
Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust

Steve Shrubb
Director of Mental Health Network
NHS Confederation

Dr Steve Pilling
Director Centre for
Outcomes Research and Effectiveness
University College London and Joint Director
National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health

James Seward
Director, Improving Access to
Psychological Therapies Programme
Department of Health

Professor David Richards
Professor of Mental Health York University

Dr John Cape
Head of Psychology Camden and
Islington Mental Health and Social Care Trust

John Mellor-Clark
Director CORE IMS

Dr Paul Walters
Specialist Psychiatrist,
MRC Fellow and Programme Leader,
MSc in Mental Health Services Research
Institute of Psychiatry

Paul Farmer
Chief Executive Mind

Professor Andrew Cooper
Director Research and Development
Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust

Angela Greatley
Chief Executive The Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health

Professor Sir Michael Rawlins
Chairman National Institute for Health
and Clinical Excellence (NICE)

Professor David Clark
Professor of Psychology Institute of Psychiatry,
Kings College London, and DirectorCentre for
Anxiety Disorders and Trauma, Maudsley Hospital

Professor Peter Fonagy
Freud Memorial Professor of Psychoanalysis and Director
of the Sub-Department of Clinical Health Psychology
University College London, and Chief Executive
The Anna Freud Centre, London

Professor Michael Barkham
Professor of Clinical and Counselling Psychology, Director
Psychological Therapies Research Centre, University of Leeds

Dr Tony Roth
Joint Course Director Doctorate in
Clinical Psychology University College London

Professor Arnoud Arntz
Professor of Clinical Psychology and Experimental
Psychopathology and Psychotherapist
Riagg Maastricht, Netherlands

Professor Anthony Bateman
Consultant Psychiatrist in Psychotherapy
Barnet, Enfield and Harringey
Mental Health Trust

Dr Janet Feigenbaum
Consultant Clinical Psychologist
North East London Mental Health Trust
and Senior Lecturer in Clinical Psychology
University College London

Baroness Molly Meacher
Chairman East London and the City University
Mental Health NHS Trust

Dr Nick Temple
Chief Executive and Consultant Psychiatrist
in Psychotherapy Tavistock and Portman
NHS Foundation Trust

Stuart Bell
Chief Executive
South London and Maudsley
NHS Foundation Trust

DrAlan Cohen
Senior Fellow
Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health
and Senior Clinical Advisor in Primary Care
Care Services Improvement Partnership (CSIP)

Professor Dave Richards
Professor of Mental Health York University

Dr John Cape
Head of Psychology Camden and Islington
Mental Health and Social Care Trust

John Mellor-Clark
Director CORE IMS

Dr Paul Walters
Specialist Psychiatrist,
MRC Fellow and Programme Leader,
MSc in Mental Health Services Research
Institute of Psychiatry

Secretary of State for Health

Lord Melvyn Bragg
President Mind

Professor Jacques Barber
Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry
Centre for Psychotherapy Research, University of Pennsylvania
School of Medicine, USA

Professsor Barbara Milrod
Associate Professor of Psychiatry
Weill Medical College of Cornell University New York, USA