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6th October 1999 text

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This first edition of IPNOSIS arises at an interesting time for IPN. Five years on, we are growing steadily. Many of us have just about have recovered from the fear that kept us locked into the agendas of professionalisation. Now we face the perhaps quite different task of consolidating the fascinating social innovation that is the IPN.

Will we freeze as an organisation? Can we find the courage to engage with the rest of the world that the task of deepening our knowledge and practice may require?

IPNOSIS hopes to initiate and sustain conversations about all of this.

Power, its varieties and its deployment continues to be a preoccupation at this time in the evolution of psycho-practice. It is nonetheless a topic that is noticable by its absence from psychotherapy journals. Why should this be? Is it due to embarassment? Is it due to a lack of insight? Or theory? In the coming months I hope IPNOSIS will contribute to remedying this deficit.

Power is also an issue close to home. Does IPNOSIS and the increasing use of e-mail by participants unduly privilege some people in IPN? I look forward to hearing from readers what they feel about this.

In this inaugural edition of IPNOSIS I have tried to hold the balance of between the agendas of confronting professionalisation and 'creating', making the accountability culture we want. Yvonne Bates Stilll Whingeing picks up the weariness that some of the convinced supporters of professionalisation have with objectors and her title points to the way that language can be used to marginalise while failing to attend to the argument. Her article, rejected by Counselling, usefully lists some of the reasons why Statutory Regulation of psychotherapy is bad news.

IPN is a lived critique of professionalised psychotherapy in the UK. However, as John Heron points out towards the end of The Original Theory of Co-counselling and the Paradignm Shift one of the two pieces by him that I include here, there is a danger in political engagement of becoming over-defined by the entity that is being opposed or resisted. Have we got the balance in IPN right between resisting oppressive developments in psycho-practice and creating what we want? What do IPNOSIS readers feel about this?

At one of the early IPN gatherings, a straw poll indicated that about half of those present had experience of co-counselling and there is much about IPN that I suspect may have been shaped by it.

Historically co-counselling has been an important contradiction of the myth that there is an inherent divide between clients and the 'professional' expertise of counselling/psychotherapy. Anyone who has had experience of teaching a group of completely naive participants to use co-counselling and see that take root is likely to be aware of the inflated value that psychotherapy expertise, especially in it professionalised forms, seems prone to.

John Heron's revision of the theory of co-counselling has several notions that may be of interest to IPNOSIS readers; the primary relationship of cathartic exploration to subsequent transmutative work and the consequences of the first being left out; the inter-relations of oppression and spirituality; and the re-iteration of the value of a learning perspective as a core theoretical framework for psycho-practice of any variety.

From an altogether other perspective, In MORE GOLD INTO LEAD: Further observations from the Alchemist's Lab. UK psychotherapy developments in the 1990's. a response to Denis Postle May 1999 Nick Owen, a psychotherapy trainer and an active promoter of UKCP and its antecedents writes at length about his experiences of being the object of a (sustained) complaint from members of a UKCP accredited training course. His experience of the UKCP's complaints procedures suggests that they very likely to are dominated by ad-hocery, i.e. who is willing to take on the task and how much time are they prepared to give. Clearly they can be a damaging and unhelpful experience.

By way of underlining the importance of the `creating` agenda, I include two pieces which refer to co-operative inquiry one of the more thoroughly developed and theoretically well supported ways of doing what IPN broadly does. Bringing Research to Life: From Survival and Recovery to Flourishing - is about a residential co-operative inquiry which included several members of an IPN group and the second is about Primary Theatre and Lean Ritual from a more recent inquiry at John Heron's centre in Italy.

Elsewhere and not to be missed are Tidbits which has an apposite quotation from Iris Murdoch and History which has a revealing account of medical life in Paris in the 1880's. I look forward to being inundated by lots of similarly intriguing snippets.

Lastly, I hope that as it evolves from this starting point, IPNOSIS will set a culture for the open exchange of knowledge, practice and comment about psycho-practice. Look on it as a window both into, and out of, IPN and if you feel inclined, contribute to it.
Denis Postle October 1999

a journal for the Independent Practitioners Network
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