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return to Psychotherapy Bill screeen The following statements appeared in the British Association of Counselling [BAC] May and June 2000 issues of their journal Counselling. The British Association of Counselling has around 16000 members.

The Psychotherapy Bill - a BAC Statement

On two occasions in late 1999, Lord Alderdice convened meetings with key stakeholders to discuss his proposals for the introduction of a Private Member's Bill in the House of Lords for the regulation of psychotherapy. The Bill itself is very much modelled on that for the regulation of osteopaths.

BAC was not invited to or included in those discussions. Those invited and attending included the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP), the British Confederation of Psychotherapists (BCP), the British Psychological Society (BPS) and the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Knowledge of the meetings only came to the attention of BAC after they had taken place. Craig McDevitt (BAC Chair) and Ken Lewis (BAC Chief Executive) had a meeting, at their request, with Lord Alderdice in February to outline the position of BAC and its counselling and psychotherapy members. They stressed the the view that regulation should apply to the whole of the talking therapies field rather than one ill-defined aspect. They also asked that BAC be included in all future meetings. Unfortunately Lord Alderdice did not see the value of our inclusion but he invited BAC to comment at any stage.

It is our understanding that but it is unlikely anything of significance will happen until, at the earliest, the end of 2000. It remains Lord Alderdice's intention to try and bring the Bill on a Private Member basis in the Lords.

It is generally the case that Private Members' Bills, and especially Private Members' Bills in the House of Lords, have little chance of success. There are no indications to date that the government will either take up the bill or allow it any parliamentary time. Nonetheless BAC is in continuing contact with the Department of Health and has provided briefing on this matter. Counsellor and psychotherapist members of BAC may be assured that their management committee will continue to monitor progress on this matter very closely and will also continue to be mindful of protecting the interests of members in these changing times.

Craig McDevitt
Chair of the British Association for Counselling

The June issue of Counselling contained the following:

The Media Department Needs You Now

One of the first things you as a counsellor could do to help promote our profession is to drop a letter or e-mail to Lord Alderdice who has introduced a Bill in the House of Lords for a legal Register of Psychotherapists. Alas, as BAC Chair Craig McDevitt reported in the May issue of Counselling, Lord Alderdice has not included BAC in this process. On the face of it, Lord Alderdice, himself a psychiatrist and psychotherapist, does not appear to believe that counsellors can be psychotherapists. It will be news to him, therefore, that a significant proportion of BAC members ARE Psychotherapists and many more aim to become so. And many counsellors who are with organisations other than BAC also qualify as psychotherapists. Perhaps it is not as clear a it should be to Lord Alderdice that BAC is the leading and largest organisation for counselling and psychotherapy in the United Kingdom. Therefore, please would you help us to remind him?

If you could write to, or e-mail, Lord Alderdice stressing your wish that he puts BAC where it belongs - at the heart of the debate on the future of British Psychotherapy - we would all gain. The last thing the world of therapy needs is further fragmentation of our common goals. Lord Alderdice has a golden opportunity to promote unification. Urge him to do so, and urge him with clarity.

Postal address: Lord Alderdice, House of Lords, London SW1A 0PW
E-mail address: johnstonan@parliament.uk

edited, maintained and © Denis Postle 1999, 2000