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


The UKCP presentation by Heward Wilkinson at the Therapeutic Training after Freud Conference, May 20 2006, at Roehampton University didn’t, for technical reasons, include the slides. Look at them here and/or read the ipnosis review below. The title is of course an ipnosis confection.

The UKCP is Our Shepherd,
We Shall Not Want…

The UKCP presentation begins with the notion that there is a visible psychotherapy and an invisible psychotherapy




And moves on to invite us to think of psychotherapy as analogous to christianism.

For Christians the Church Visible, fortunately, does not coincide with the Church Invisible.

The Church Invisible is catholic and indivisible, the single and united Body of Christ.

The Church Visible is disunited, and no one of its ecclesiastical nuclei has the power, unilaterally, to reunite it, even whilst they continue to claim to be the one true Church.

We are, ipnosis supposes, invited to identify the UKCP with both ‘church visible’ and ‘church invisible’. The notion that psychopractice is disunited, and that none of its ecclesiastical nuclei, including the UKCP, has the power unilaterally to reunite it, is certainly welcome, however UKCP does appear to be claiming to have possession of the deep inner truth of psychotherapy, even to be ‘the one true church’.

Curiously another image, from the Vatican web-site, labeled: The Church Visible and evoking the papacy, handily reminds us of the scale of the damage that a bureaucratic institution can do to radical notions about how better to relate to each other.

The presentation moves on to declare that in its ambition for:

…a fully integrated Visible Profession, at this point, UKCP has failed.

We simply dont have agreed concepts either of personal therapeutic experience or external validation!!

However all is not lost because UKCP, like the Vatican, claims to have a line of authority back to the one true church of psychotherapy.

Continuing to represent the Invisible Unity of the Profession,
UKCP has moved, with success, to a facilitative role in the field.

It has apparently had the reshuffle of its member organization modalities endorsed by the DoH and this joint cooperation, the presentation claims, may yet to be blessed by the emergence of a ‘Mental Health Council’ to replace the Health Professions Council.

A Mental Health Council, I have had the impression down the years that many people in the UKCP did not see themselves as even remotely engaged in the myth of ‘mental health’, a profoundly medicalised, pathology-driven notion, for example, Psychosynthesis and Education Trust, Institute of Psychosynthesis, Chiron Centre for Body Psychotherapy, Centre for Transpersonal Psychology, British Psychodrama Association, Karuna, Spectrum, London Association of Primal Psychotherapists, Re-Vision. Iipnosis is surprised that appear to raise no objections to this. Where are their voices?

And what a bizarre rationalization of the sleep-walking reality of psychopractice professionalisation to claim to represent the Invisible Unity of the Profession.

However, just in case some sin from the christianism of the first paragraphs of the presentation had attached itself to the begetters of this remarkable conceptual contortion, the presentation goes on to:

honour how the Independent Practitioners Network represents the anti-regulatory impulse, that nearly all of us feel in part of ourselves. And why not? UKCP feels the same impulse;

Really? This is surely massively disingenuous. If UKCP feels the anti-regulatory impulse how come it has been diligently promoting the regulation of psychopractice for at least a decade and a half? See for example UKCP’s Love Affair with the State. Doesn’t significant doubt always constitute a No? Is it due to ‘feeling the anti-regulatory impulse’ that has caused UKCP as an institution to studiously ignore to death the critique that IPN participants and others have raised of this trade association’s imperialism?

This dubiously framed complimenting of IPN is followed in the UKCP presentation by a proposition that reeks of exactly the kind of compromised, bankrupt universalizing that feeds ipnosis’s sense of certainty that regulation as presently being pursued will be a historical disaster for UK psychopractice. The significant (but denied) doubt about the value of regulation claimed for UKCP now mutates into a pair of trance inductions.

pragmatically, the least worst policy is to achieve regulation, on a basis which maintains the spirit of the Profession.

I.e. regulation is inevitable. UKCP can a) be trusted as the priestly celebrant of what constitutes the spirit of our psychopractice occupations and b) can be trusted to orchestrate for you this spirit’s relations with the state.

And, why should we as a Profession not simply be accountable in the form of Regulation?

Ipnosis would want to revise this to ‘of course as a trade association driven primarily by training interests, UKCP has long been actively interested in having accountability take the form of State Regulation’. Ipnosis has no problem with accountability; the issue is accountability to and through whom?

We represent a vast, complex, and in some cases lethal, actual and potential body of knowledge and praxis; our scope and influence is expanding into all fields of praxis; why should we be absolved from accountability?

This inflates the importance of a tiny fraction of the UK working population, 7,000 UKCP registrants out of a total of say 50,000 UK psychopractitioners (the NHS has 1.300,000 staff) into being a major player on the international stage. Status for psychotherapy, in sight at last, but status of a disastrous kind. As Nick Totton remarked at the Therapeutic Training After Freud conference, ‘psychotherapists are not just turkeys voting for xmas, they are inventing xmas, and writing the menu’.

The presentation moves on from this inflated assertion of representing a vast complex expansion into all fields of praxis to another conflation of spirituality and psychopolitics.

The state already owns our souls; the question, from our side, is, upon what basis? And, if we desire influence for good in this modern age, if our souls are in their turn to own the State, a State recognised identity is essential.

Ipnosis was strongly reminded by this paragraph of the parallel with the actual Established Anglican Church in the UK and the sense, that awarely or not, on the basis of this presentation, the UKCP may believe it mirrors Anglicanism’s inclusivity (while as yet lacking its Crown imprimatur).

The Anglican ministry is indeed a church divided and its internal dynamics of compulsive hierarchical dispensation and disempowered lay members matches the unfolding psychopractice regulation situation quite well. Not least, ipnosis feels inclined to add, in the way that as an institution Anglicanism has ensured that the radicalism of the Jesus message has too often been dissipated into dull social conformity.

In another, perhaps more acute parallel, the Anglican church was founded, and some would see it as continuing to be shaped by, the raw state power of Henry VIII, who appropriated its predecessor’s assets and forced it to reflect his government’s style and priorities.

‘The state already owns our souls’. Here is another trance induction, the intention, or at least the effect of which, is to dislocate discrimination; it seeks to install the belief that we are powerless in the face of the state and thus eliminates the option of choice. Let us remember, this is psychotherapy speaking, psychotherapy advocating powerlessness and che sera, sera. We are intended to forget, or fail to notice, that UKCP has historically always been committed to having psychopractice regulated by the state.

Elaborating on the first suggestion, the trance induction continues, ‘if our souls are in their turn to own the State, a State recognised identity is essential’. Again this is intended to shutdown, or foreclose, discrimination. The choice that a psychopractitioner might see the interests of their clients, let alone their self interest, as much better served by NOT signing up to the audit/surveillance culture that has distorted and damaged the NHS and public education in the UK, is disallowed.

A state recognized identity will result in the terminal contamination of working alliances, not only, ipnosis would argue by what is insisted upon, but by what is omitted, what gets side-lined, disallowed, regarded as unpredictable, out-rageous, too loud, ecstatic, or wild. Through UKCP and its brother organization’s regulationist fear inductions, the richly sonorous, unpredictable music of deep psychopractice already feels to some of us to have become muted, it becomes Muzak, a lifestyle enhancement.

Once the institutional doubts about the value of such a psychic amputation have been successfully denied (and expiated by congratulating IPN for its dissent) the benefits of joining modernity are available to us:

we enter the external validation realm of mapping competences, occupational standards, learning outcomes,

There is a danger here however, because sin is still a live notion in this presentation.

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

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.

The answer comes in the succeeding paragraphs that reveal once more the extent to which the core perspective of UKCP is founded on training.

philosophically, psychotherapy is not merely empirical science, Its mode of engagement with temporal causal experience is an inextricable interweave of a priori and empirical.

how on earth can this be mapped into competences, learning outcomes, occupational standards, etc?

In a line that entrances us into thinking that the only route to accountability is that of input, one necessarily determined by psychotherapy trainers, the UKCP presentation proclaims:


We all teach our form or vision of psychotherapy; well, how do we do it? and how do we know we have done it? We all have answers in practice to those questions.

So that’s all right then. Because training institutions train psychopractitioners, we, the rest of the people already in practice, can and should, accept the reduction of the field to competences, learning outcomes, occupational standards and delegate the definition of them to the handful of people from the key training institutions who actually do the ongoing negotiations with the DoH. As though the specification of these categories, and the processes of assessing non-compliance with them did not involve a form of psychic imprisonment for psychopractitioners downstream of this narrowly representative leadership.

However this unduly complicates the situation because the UKCP, failing to recognize, through accurate problem definition, that State Regulation of psychopractice is a vicious problem (one where the solution makes the situation worse) are convinced that they have found a solution. Take for example emotion:


How do we teach this? You all know. You all do it, experientially. And if you know, you can state the form of knowledge.

Teaching a definition of emotion is an academic task. This over-confidently side-steps the regulatory issue, ensuring that a psychopractitioner is emotionally competent is a horse of different colour. Ipnosis would argue that because it necessitates a strong, long term commitment to self-directed learning, there is a low probability that emotional competence can be trained for. That is not to say, see this set of criteria, that it can’t be recognized as it comes into place.

But none of this potential for psychopractice being mired and defaced by category errors counts for the UKCP. The definition of emotion, (as if a definition of it had more validity for troubled clients than an each way bet on the 4:30 at Cheltenham) is regarded as good enough.

The form it takes, for instance, in the Health Profession Council’s formulations, is not rocket science!

Registrant Arts Therapists must ‘know theories relevant to work with an individual’.

Thats it! As regards work with an individual qua individual, thats it, for the HPC!

Terrific. Unbounded enthusiasm breaks out all over NW1. Registration is a doddle, why have we been concerned about it? Accountability? Well ‘know the theories of emotion relevant to work with an individual’, that’s all the HPC will ask you for. Here is yet another trance induction. It hides the permanently intractable impossibilities of the State regulatory categorization of psychopractice behind the false promise that on the day, it will be easy for you. Even trivial.

We are also committed, as we dialogue with the Department of Health, to mapping the relation between our specific, or our broader general, modalities, and the generic concepts which are in common to us all.

So trust us. You are in safe hands. We won’t let you down. Let us get on with our task as shepherds of the flock. Keep eating the rich green grass of your working-alliances. Trust us to lead you though the Valley of the Shadow of Regulation, safe in the knowledge that neither of us have noticed that our destiny is to become mutton and woolly jumpers.

Ipnosis is edited, maintained and © Denis Postle 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006
May 29 2006
download printable .rtf file

for all previous articles in ipnosis