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2nd October 1999 text download this article


A response to Denis Postle May 1999

Nick Owen

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This article is addressed to all who practice or are considering the practise of psychotherapy and related disciplines in the U.K. It is a response to, and follow up of, the article by Denis Postle on the lpiper ( G.O.R.I.L.L.A. ) website of the Internet and published in the International Journal of Psychotherapy.

000 It is addressed both to members of the various Professional Registers of Psychotherapy and Counselling and to those excluded or standing deliberately aloof from those registers.

000 First let me set out my credentials as a commentator on this decade in the history of the development of psychotherapy in the U.K. and explain why I believe both the professionalizers and the anti professionalizers should give my observations serious consideration.

000 I am a Director of the Oxford School of Psychotherapy and Counselling Ltd and have been so since the inception of the school in 1989 almost 10 years ago.

000 This school has developed in parallel with the U.K. standing Conference for Psychotherapy and achieved full member status of this body at the same time that it was changing its own status to become the U.K. Council for Psychotherapy.

000 Our school decided to join the planned U.K.C.P. in 1991 in response to our students wishes to have a national recognition and accreditation for their training. The history of the development of our school runs in parallel to the development of U.K.C.P and as such provides some kind of mirror to that development. In examining the development of our school I hope to show good and bad things about the development of U.K.C.P.

000 1) The idea of joining with others to explore and develop standards, curricula, assessment methods etc, especially with other more experienced trainers from different schools as well as my own colleagues, was an exciting and apparently worthwhile challenge. (However my co-directors had many misgivings and doubts, to the extent that the work of developing our school along lines that would be within the parameters being steadily set by the national body was virtually in my hands alone.)

000 2) Being a member of the Humanistic and Integrative Section of the national body would provide us with a valuable reference point and place of belonging in the world, rather than being an isolated entity. Our philosophy of openness to many models of theory while insisting that no model is adequate on its own, supported us in enriching our work by contact with the source points of several such models. The values of openness and inclusion, consensus politics and heterarchy nominally espoused by H.I.P.S. meant for me that I could lead us in wholeheartedly rather than as part of a political compromise.

000 3) Joining a larger body which had already given much consideration to the make up of a psychotherapy school would help us avoid the task of re-inventing the wheel.

000 4) We would have a yardstick for examining the success of our work in terms of feedback from outside assessments from other H.I.P.S. schools.

000 5) The creation of U.K.C.P./H.I.P.S. seemed to me to be a great advance for psychotherapy from the old dynamic of each little faction/school cleaving to its own ideas as Right and attacking all others as Wrong. I believed that psychotherapy might be growing beyond the state of the three month old baby dominated by the primitive mechanisms of splitting and projection. The prospect of working towards collaborative enquiry and away from suspicion denigration and backbiting was very appealing.

000 In addition to humanistic methods our school was also teaching the work of Freud and other psychodynamic practitioners.

000 My co-directors and I also had credentials in Psychodynamic and psychoanalytic Psychotherapy:

000 I qualified as one of the first members of the Institute for Psychotherapy and Counselling, the school created by Westminster Pastoral Foundation, in1980.

000 Westminster Pastoral Foundation had deliberately set out to create a new cadre of Professional Counsellors anticipating by some time the creation of a Psychotherapy Profession along similar lines. I had wanted to practice full time as a professional after leaving university and the Westminster course gave me this opportunity. This Westminster institute soon changed its name from the Institute of Pastoral Education and Counselling to the Institute for Psychotherapy and Counselling and opted to join the PP Section of U.K.C.P.

000 The Philadelphia Association, the parent body of my O.S.P.& C. co-directors, Mary Duhig and Leon Redler had also opted to be in the psychodynamic group.

000 We chose to join the H.I.P. rather than the P.P. section because it more closely equated to our value system. The parameters of the P.P. grouping are simply too narrow for us. But we believed that our background understanding of psychodynamic principles would make a valuable contribution to the integrative development of other H.I.P. groups.

000 My own personal history in therapy has straddled several professional barriers. I was in psychotherapy 3 times a week for several years with a Jungian Analyst and Psychiatrist. My analyst, Ruth Hoffman was not only an analyst and member of the royal college of psychiatry but was herself an analysand of Michael Fordham, editor of Jung's collected works and the first leader of the Jungian group in England.

000 (My tongue is slightly in my cheek as I announce this as "an important credential", because I do not attach great significance to it. However, the cognoscenti from the analysts group will already have observed that I was in only 3 times a week psychotherapy rather than 4 times a week analysis.) (Only the Freudians do 5 times a week I believe). Moreover my training was with a junior organisation, the I.P.& C not the senior Jungian one, the Society for Analytical Psychology. My status is thus reduced in the eyes of psychoanalytic practitioners. I do value my Jungian connections, especially the personal friendship I made with Michael Fordham, which grew out of the seminars he gave at our school and the many hours of gossipy chat we enjoyed long into the nights afterwards, when 1 drove him home. Such personal relationship connections are far more valuable to me than bureaucratic place holding. The other major influences on my early practice have all been Jungian Analysts like David Holt, Neil Micklem, and Helen Plaut, and I still consider myself a Jungian of sorts.

000 While I trained as an analytical counsellor and psychotherapist I was already training and indeed working as a humanistic practitioner in psychodrama, drama therapy, and groupwork. I worked for 5 years on the executive of the Association for Humanistic Psychotherapy in the 1970's. I also attended some of the first meetings of the Association for Humanistic Psychology Practitioners Group, but was too heavily committed elsewhere at the time to follow through with them.

000 I do hope readers uninterested in all this material about pecking orders will bear with me in spelling out these details. I do so as an illustration of the hierarchical system which dominates psychodynamic therapy in this country. I am inclined to believe that British Institutions are impervious to criticism from outside. In terms of my personal history as a schoolboy at a British Public School I believed it was important to succeed at the system before rejecting it. The danger of this is Institutionalization. I can only hope that my criticism of the Psychotherapy profession is not itself institutionalized by my years of membership.

000 When I trained at Westminster Pastoral Foundation it was still called a counselling training and indeed remained so until someone noticed that it had rather more substance to it than one of the London Jungian Analytical trainings. One of my teachers there, Bani Shorter, a Jungian Analyst, described the counsellor as the handmaiden of the analyst! It was very clear that our status was lowly. Yet after 5 years of group, individual and family-marital training I had far more dynamic theory and client hours practice behind me than any ordinary psychodynamic psychotherapist trainee. It was not just quantity but "quality" since my teachers were all high status members of analytic groups.

000 A fundamental reason for avoiding the P.P section was to stay clear of the pecking order politics which dominates this grouping and has led to a section of this grouping splitting off from U.K.C.P. in a bid to establish or hold onto a putative superior status. This power and status seeking process in terms of lineage (descendance from Freud or Jung) and hours of analysis is described in Postle and Young's pages.

000 There is immense insecurity for both the individual psychotherapist and the psychotherapy organisation in being able to be confident that he/she/it is doing a good job. There really are no objective or scientific parameters of measurement. No outcome research has been able to demonstrate the superior efficacy of any method. This leads to a nearly ubiquitous tendency to appeal to Authority, the authority of a Patriarchal figure. This figure is predominantly Freud, less often Jung. Even modern prenatal therapists appeal back to Otto Rank! (Ludvig Janus 98)

000 The sociological pattern is much more a religious structure of organised belief than a scientific discipline. Robert Young, a psychoanalytic psychotherapist and Professor of Psychotherapy and Psychoanalytic Studies at Sheffield University is quoted by Postle as claiming that the hierarchy runs down from Freud through his personal analysands. Freud established this pattern by ignoring the work of Nietszche who had made many of "his" discoveries before him, refusing to let Jung analyse certain of his dreams in case this threatened his authority over the movement, (see Jung's Memories Dreams Reflections) and establishing dogma and doctrinal obeisance. The most senior analysts hold their credentials straight from Freud They analyse, supervise and train others among the analysts who in turn are the analysts and trainers of members of lower status psychodynamic organisations.

000 This thesis was confirmed by Haya Oakley, a member of the P.A. and past secretary of U.K.C.P., now a leader in the warfare and status battle between U.K.C.P. and British Confederation of Psychotherapists ( B.C.P.), in a special address to the H.I.P. group in 1994 in an attempt to enlist support against the Confederation. I attended that presentation as a member of H.I.P. S.

000 I have practised as a professional trainer, counsellor, psychotherapist and groupworker now continuously for over 20 years with scores of students completing 3 and 4 year training courses, some to the level of U.K.C.P. membership, many to the level of B.A.C. Professional Membership. I have also been a board member and training committee member of the Westminster Institute.

000 So much for my credentials as a Professional and a professionalizer.

000 The second part of my introduction is to establish the reverse credentials as an antiprofessionalizer.

000 In the process of making our training in Oxford fit in with the parameters of national accreditation generated by U.K.C.P. something went profoundly wrong for our school and its students, as well as for me personally. I believe that this has little or nothing to do with any failings of competence in our staff or students.

000 Joan Evans, a chair of the H.I.P.S., and Courtney Young of the Association of Humanistic Psychology Practitioners gave positive assessments of the school, and Arthur Jonathan, another chair of H.I.P. S. gave positive external assessments on our work for 3 years. Arthur Jonathan was both our external assessor and chair of H.I.P.S. in 1994 when he proposed us, as H.I.P.S. chair, to full member training status of the Council.

000 There were a number of aspects to our training which made it at least special, if not unique. Maybe it comes down to human relationship, which would be right, given that that is what the whole thing is about. Mary Duhig, my co-founder and I had a very warm challenging creative relationship which brought the best out in both of us. We had a shared theoretical ground in Laing and Jung, but we also shared our own vision of a place where people could learn to become their own kind of therapist rather than fit into someone else's mould or pattern. We built the school on the values of respect for the integrity of the other, compassion and love. We were able to "walk our talk" as the native Americans put it, to the extent that all the numerous outside teachers who came to us enjoyed the students and wanted to return to do more.

000 Our focus was on personal learning (as distinct from Rogers' person centred methodology) rather than training. We insisted that no maps were adequate to the territory and that therapy was to do with making relationships rather than using techniques. We made very strong relationships with our students which sustained the great majority of them through the crises of being in training.

000 What we failed to do was to ensure things continuing in the same way after Mary's retirement. What we had was a sordid power struggle between myself and Mary's designated self replacement, Leon Redler, with junior staff joining in. Students were dragged into it. Rivalry became war between methodologies. The raison D'etre for the existence of the place was lost.

000 In the midst of this deeply painful splitting of the energy of the school I myself began a sexual relationship with one of our fourth year students. We allowed this to become public knowledge in the summer of 1995

000 A crisis arose in our school over this and less central personal relationship issues. I asked for Arthur Jonathan's support. He took many months before eventually replying to my letter as follows. "As I commented to you and Mary on my last visit, although there is a specialness unique to Ochre, there was no doubt in my mind that Ochre would need to change to meet the parameters set by U.K.C.P. and H.I.P.S. Of course there is a grave danger that the specialness of Ochre could be destroyed in that process, but this does not necessarily have to be the outcome. It might be possible to make certain adjustments and alterations which will meet the stipulated criteria whilst retaining those elements , both in content and approach, which would result in the major aspects of the "specialness" referred to being maintained. It would certainly need a detailed and somewhat objective re-examination of syllabuses, curricula and approaches, if OCHRe intends to continue with U.K.C.P."

000 None of our school policies changed between 1994 and 1995, yet the man who formally sanctioned them that year felt they needed "somewhat objective re-examination" just one year later. Gordon Law, the H.I.P.S. Complaints officer, and our external assessor for 1995, also gave a positive external assessment of our students in 1995.

000 I myself had been elected to the job of External Relations Officer for H.I.P.S.!

000 On our election to the U.K. Council for Psychotherapy,( nem con incidently), the Tavistock delegate, Gill Gorrell-Barnes, congratulated us on the quality of our curriculum. Moreover, as a new member of the Council, we had been exposed to more evaluation and assessment than all the longer established members, who joined before some of these parameters were established.

000 In 1996, at an extraordinary general meeting, we were expelled from the Council for failure to comply with some of the rules of Council membership.

000 The key to the problems that led to our expulsion from U.K.C.P. lies in a note to us from Arthur Jonathan prior to our being admitted to the Council. In that letter he suggests that something special about our organisation would be jeopardised by our trying to fit in with the Councils parameters and suggesting that we might be better not to attempt to conform.

000 In 1996 we were invited to leave the council, but refused on the grounds that we felt that everyone else was out of step! We hoped to be able to continue to be part of the body as a fringe critic, attempting to moderate the excesses of the council from within rather than from outside. Instead we were made a pariah organisation on the grounds that I had formed a relationship with a fourth year student at the school. At the time this was not even contrary to the ethical guidelines of the Council. We were formally adjudged to be infringing a few minor rules of the club, yet we were overwhelmingly voted out of membership on the behest of the executive, almost as overwhelmingly as we had been voted in just 2 years earlier. H.I.P.S. had reported that we did not fulfil its requirements for membership.

000 The reality of the time, 1995/6 was that a wave of "moral panic'1 was running through the country in general and psychotherapy at the Council in particular. Our organisation had been a flash point for that panic and that conflagration. 2 Junior staff had complained to the council about my leadership and behaviour. No such complaint was admissible under H.I.P.S. rules at the time, but new rules were rushed through to enable H.I.P.S. to investigate major concerns about an organisation. This legislation also operated retroactively.

000 This could have been a very positive thing, outside agencies coming to the help of a colleague agency in distress. The H.I.P.S. ethos statement is relevant. I quote from it.

000 The criteria ( of membership) do not act as a means of exclusion, but as positive encouragement to organisations seeking to find common ground with their colleagues.

000 That change often emerges from the voice at the fringes and that any organisation, if it is to stay alive and in step with life's evolving processes, needs to be sensitive so as not to ignore or disenfranchise those that bring other points of view.

000 That the professional community in which we all operate is made up of many different points of view. An openness to the variety that is offered within this larger context holds a high value, and respect for the integrity of colleagues is necessary and fundamental.

000 That the principles of empowerment of both individuals and organisations within which individuals are either working or training are high valued and are embodied in the structures and systems of the organisation.

000 It is my contention that neither Maura Sills, nor Arthur Jonathan nor Alice Stevenson nor Gordon Law acted in line with the H.I.P.S. ethos statement in the process of investigating our situation. I believe they behaved with great cynicism in a damage limitation exercise to protect themselves, and their organisation, H.I.P.S. from criticism in U.K.C.P., and U.K.C.P. itself, from public criticism. (I recall Maura Sills offhand remark, "It may be all right, but it is not psychotherapy.")

000 I have been accused by my peers of "betraying the profession".

000 In this article I want to assert the right of myself, my colleagues, students and graduates to practice professionally, that is to say, receiving a fee in reward for our work with people, without being Professionals in terms of these emergent U.K.C.P. parameters. It is my case that U.K.C.P. and H.I.P.S. have betrayed their own original aims and ethos in the pursuit of power and status, specifically in the pursuit of an unwarrantable Statutory Registration power.

000 More than this I claim that in the pursuit of this "power over" as opposed to "power with" (see Postle reference to the writing of Starhawk which I was teaching our students at this time) these parameters have continued to change in ways that are damaging to our work, and that the goal of attaining the status of a Profession is profoundly misguided.

000 It must be all too easy to believe that I am merely the wolf from the fable crying 11sour grapes". It is well over 2 years since the last of these events and I believe this has given me time to put things into a reasonable perspective. I am in a process of continuous reassessment of our training with my new colleagues, none of whom are connected with U.K.C.P. and one of whom is very active in the Independent Practitioners Network.

000 By 1994 my own ideas were already out of line with attitudes of my Council colleagues, even if I was not persuaded by my fellow director, Leon Redler that it is not possible to have categories of assessment for trainees!

000 The teaching material that was inspiring me, the Shamanic ideas of Arnold Mindell and the esoteric doctrines of Starhawk (for so long eulogised by John Rowan) were leading me away from the bureaucratic boundary making of the professionalizers. The creation of more and more rules to fence in and control practice only seemed to restrict and tie down the practitioner while denying the client the wide variety of skills my students possessed.

000 The truth is that not only does our practice change as we learn and grow but it will naturally deviate from the patterns we were first taught. The idea of having to re-register our conformity with our training body every 4 or 5 years now seems outrageous. People bring in acupuncture, massage, zero balancing, I ching, Tarot, Alexander technique, Voice therapy and so many other things into their work, both as students and graduates. Should all of this be weeded out in the name of good ethical professional practice? Must a professional training be a process of shrinking to fit?

000 All these schools claim the fundamental importance of theoretical model and methodology, yet there is simply no evidence that these things are what count in terms of client outcome.

000 There is no Body of Knowledge, upon which the existence of a Profession can be based. The profession would not even be able to agree about the significance of transference.

000 Professions are employed to proffer advice based on their specialised Professional Knowledge. Yet one of the major Codes of Practice for our work actually condemns advice giving as unethical! (The fact that this is itself ludicrous is neither here nor there in this discussion.) Psychotherapists do not proffer any specialist advice.

000 A key exploration point in the creation of a Profession, for me, has been the government's attempts to create National Vocational Qualifications in Psychotherapy.

000 I was invited to contribute to this process as part of the Department of Education and Employment's consultation with representatives of all constituencies within the profession.

000 The consultants asked my group of representatives to identical core statements about the work and to post these on the walls for affirmation or negation from all the other members.

000 This revealed a set of fundamental divisions that have existed in psychology for fifty years and are unlikely to disappear in the foreseeable future. The key beliefs of behaviourists, psychoanalysts and humanistic practitioners are not merely different but opposed. What one side regards as essential the other regards as bad or even unethical.

000 Attempts to move towards integration have been and are likely to remain futile. There were not even enough people willing to attend a planned conference on integration for it to go ahead.

000 Very few people have the breadth of mind to encompass the fields of medicine psychology and sociology, and the disciplines of analytical existential phenomenological and humanistic thinking, as well as the practice of individual group and family therapy. One such was Ronnie Laing. He is one of the few people I know who have given thought to the fundamental requirements for a theory of psychotherapy which he outlined in "The politics of Experience. " I quote "...we need concepts which both indicate the interaction and interexperience of two persons, and help us to understand the relation between each person's own experience and his own behavior, within the context of the relationship between them. And we must in turn be able to conceive of this relationship within the relevant contextual social systems. Most fundamentally a critical theory must be able to place all theories and practices within the scope of a total vision of the ontological structure of being human."

000 Laing's approach can relate to analytic and humanistic methods but cannot be reconciled with the behaviourists. For him "Behaviour therapy is the most extreme example of such schizoid theory and practice that proposes to think and act purely in terms of the other without reference to the self of the therapist or the patient, in terms of behaviour without experience, in terms of objects rather than persons. It is inevitably therefore a technique of non-meeting, of manipulation and control. Psychotherapy must remain an obstinate attempt of two people to recover the wholeness of being human through the relationship between them."

000 The U.K.C.P. advances and grows in numbers on the basis of coalitions of power blocks in the pursuit of power, without consideration for commonality of values beyond the business ethics of a trade association. At least the rival group, the British Confederation of Psychotherapists has some kind of conceptual integrity on the basis of shared values and methodology.

000 Those who have risen to positions of power in the current trade associations have not shown the kind of respect for human relationships that would remotely indicate that they can create the basis for a psychotherapy profession. To the contrary they show all the symptoms of creating one more dominator hierarchy in a world of similar institutions the like of which psychotherapy was created to remedy.

000 There is so much more to say in this area. But I hope I have said enough to give the reader some sense of my reasons for moving away from professionalization. The whole thing was certainly giving me, as a Director of a Training Institute, more and more power over people, but I had a decreasing sense of power with them.



000 Denis Postle's article raises a number of questions.

000 Should psycho-practice ( variations on the theme of psychotherapy) be restricted to those people registered by a national or international body as "competent" and "ethically sound."?

000 Is the creation of such a body in the interest of all or even most members of a supposedly free and democratic society?

000 Would the existence of such a Professional Body and Authority provide a real protection for psychotherapy clients?

000 Can psychotherapy really help its clients with their struggles in the social world if it is itself an authorised institution of that society?


000 U.K.C.P. very sensibly( in my view) does not have a code of ethics, but has stated ethical principles and a set of ethical guidelines. It is an organisation of organisations, each with their own codes of ethics. What may be ethical in one school may not be so in another. Someone outside the profession, let alone anyone with a degree in philosophy like myself will find things being ethical in one place but unethical in another at the very least perplexing. Surely something is either eithical or not? We are not really talking about the Good, what is ethical, here but what is allowed in different codes of practice. It is a fact that what is banned as unethical and morally bad in some schools is seen as good and even necessary in others, for example physical contact. However each ethics document must conform with the guidelines of the umbrella body.

000 All the schools are united in their approval of codes of ethics that comply with the guidelines. It is what unifies the "Profession". In my view this is a sham and a deception. These ethics are neither the ethics of philosophy nor of a profession like the Law, but rather they are the "business ethics" of a trade association, which is what the U.K.C.P. actually is.

000 As part of joining the club our standards and ethics committee produced a statement of ethical principles and code of practice, which was assessed as acceptable for our membership. Our committee took 2 years to produce it and put a great deal of time and attention into the job.

000 Our document was later adjudged to be defective by Christopher Coulson of

000 A.H.P.P. ,( who had assessed it as adequate initially) when it became evident that under it a teacher might be able to have a sexual relationship with a student without breaching the code.

000 Guidelines had been issued to the effect that codes were to be amended so that sexual relations between staff and students should be outlawed by 1997. But this was 1996.

000 One of the basic principles of Law and Ethics generally in liberal democracies is that laws are not made retroactively. This principle does not seem to hold for our brave new world of Authority on Professional ethics and competence. Their actions look like serious incompetence and ethical shabbiness to me in terms of such basic principles. But in our dealings with H.I.P.S./U.K.C.P. we have been accused of nit picking and dwelling on legalistic niceties rather than substantive issues.( letter from Gordon Law 1995). 1 want Internet readers outside the profession to be able to be the judges.

000 Our school has an umbrella body, the Oxford Centre for Human Relations. One of its core ideas is that you cannot codify ethics. We operate in an existential phenomenological tradition which places great emphasis on conscious responsibility and choice. Ethical choices are a matter of personal responsibility and cannot be defended in terms of following commandments. Ethics are always situational. Each life situation is potentially unique requiring individual evaluation and judgement. From our viewpoint we consider that other organisations' Codes of Ethics are not ethical, since they provide only a set of rules which deprive the individual of personal responsibility and freedom of choice. They are of no help when ethical rules lead to conflict or contradiction as they inevitably do.

000 Some people regard me as a scoundrel and our ethics document as a scoundrel's charter. In our discussion with the two woman investigative team from H.I.P.S. who offered us all of two hours of their time following major conflicts at our school in relation to U.K.C.P., one useful thing that emerged was the observation that our system puts a higher moral demand on its students than other schools and that in their opinion our intake should be limited to very mature individuals. My view is that training should help to develop such maturity. In fact our document is far more demanding in practice than other codes. I am expected to show" wise use of my power in the interest of students and clients", quite a tall order.

000 In 1995 1 was formally charged by a number of students under our disciplinary code, and due process was followed meticulously. There was no question of adjudicators not finding me unwise in some of my decisions. I accepted it. I have been found to have breached our code of practice. It was all done carefully and competently in accordance with our formal procedures. The adjudicators did not recommend that I cease to practice or to teach. The panel of adjudicators consisted of2 senior figures within the Profession and a lawyer. None had connections to the school.

000 One of the formal reasons for our being excluded from H.I.P.S. and U.K.C.P. was that students were being asked to adjudicate on their teachers. That is quite simply false. Students had membership of the ethics committee, but no ethics committee members are allowed to be adjudicators. If the H.I.P.S./U.K.C.P. team who investigated us could not differentiate the functions of ethics committee members and adjudicators they were merely incompetent. I believe they were being either deliberately negligent or politically expedient and acting in bad faith. I believe that any competent investigator from outside the profession would have been able to confirm that. Neither Gordon Law, nor Maura Sills, nor Alice Stevenson, who were involved in investigating the situation in our school, showed either thoroughness, accuracy or personal integrity. (of which more later)

000 I need to report one more piece of malpractice and incompetence. The H.I.P.S. Complaints Officer, Gordon Law, produced a report to U.K.C.P. about our organisation based on what he claims were two reports sent him independently by Maura Sills and Alice Stevenson , the H.I.P.S. investigators. He claims his report was a composite report drawn from the other two. I have found no evidence the Maura ever wrote a report. We later gained access to Alice Stevenson's report from U.K.C.P., a report riddled with inaccuracies, which Gordon will have known to be inaccuracies from his involvement with the school as external assessor. Good practice would have required him to step down as Complaints Officer because of his recent professional involvement with and employment by the school. He did not complain about our procedures while working for us, yet was happy to endorse complaints sent to him by Stevenson. In fact he chose to continue to do the Complaints Officer job, concealing the inaccurate report of Alice Stevenson from us and replacing it with a generalised summary of his own, indicating our failure to understand the "principles of malfeasance"!

000 In 1995 the U.K.C.P. executive attempted to drive through proposals for sweeping changes to codes and disciplinary procedures with almost no consultation with membership. Most of the articles in their house journal at the time were about tyranny. These proposals were rejected by the membership but their response to our organisation was as if these changes had been accepted and were already in place. It was publicly stated that I was guilty of serious professional misconduct without any administrative/legal parameters being in place for such a charge.

000 In ordinary employment law it is not possible to be convicted of serious professional misconduct without a hearing and an opportunity for self defence. There was no hearing, no formal allegation and no opportunity for self defence in my case. I stand convicted in my absence of an offence that did not even formally exist. The behaviour was more that of a private members club black-balling a member than a would-be Professional body doing its duty.

000 I believe I have caste more than a little doubt on the ethics and competence of senior officials in H.I.P.S. /U.K.C.P. But it may appear as no more than a criticism of individuals rather than a criticism of the Institution they were serving.

000 This brings me to Denis's next question


000 To the best of my knowledge and belief the U.K.S.C.P. was not set up to achieve Statutory Authority over a Profession of Psychotherapy. Its structures were democratic with the aim of discussion and debate leading to consensus agreements. It met quite literally in the round at Canterbury where all voices, at least of the organisations delegates, could expect to be heard. I have great respect for people who were able to bring so many disparate groups together and by long discussions start to achieve some order out of seeming chaos. From acrimony and paranoid defensiveness between organisations it was possible to move towards a sense of collegiality and even warmth between some sections and section members by the time our group became involved in 1991. However, even before we attended our first conference in 1993 a fundamental split in the organisation had occurred.

000 Conversations with senior U.K.C.P. members have confirmed to me that it happened very much as Young and Postle describe it. The longest established Institute in the country insisted that its pre-eminence in the field entitled it to a "star chamber" status with one of its members on each committee or board. This was a naked bid for power over, which went totally against the ethos of democracy and consensus. It was rejected. The subsequent withdrawal of the Institute of Psychoanalysis, dragging with it allied bodies into a rival body, The British Confederation of Psychotherapists, left the organisation weakened and the "Profession" disunited once more.

000 The British Government has clearly stated that it will not consider statutory registration unless the profession can demonstrate unity. The logic of this profound splitting of the field into warring factions again, indicates to me, and hopefully to you the reader, the practical necessity to put on hold any schemes of statutory registration while the disunity is sorted out. That the reverse has been the case is another demonstration of poor leadership acting in bad faith.

000 I was stunned into silence when Emmy Van Deurzen-Smith opened her address as Chair of the Council with the audacious claim that Statutory Registration was now the raison D'Ítre of the Council, that this was absolutely necessary as part of integration into Europe and that negotiations with the government indicated that it was only just over the horizon. With hindsight we can see that such statements were grandiose nonsense, but at the time any of us in the room who held different ideas probably felt as isolated as I did. The atmosphere of triumphalism would have graced a Nazi rally.

000 The A.H.P.P. delegates said not a word. Yet that organisation has now claimed it was never in favour of statutory registration. Some have claimed their board were in bad faith, others that they were misrepresented by their delegates. However, it may be that they, like me, were overawed and rendered speechless. There was no debate. There was no space for contradiction. The voice of Authority, the voice of Power had spoken. Dissenters like myself simply felt that we were in the wrong club, or rather that this was no longer the club that we joined.

000 Postle's article focuses on the security consciousness of the British people and the vast expense put into attempting to bolster a sense of security. I am not convinced about this. The European Union is removing the solid or rather liquid borders of this country that have been firm for a millennium. The channel tunnel has literally undermined those borders. But I do not believe the nations security, at least in the structure of its institutions has yet been significantly eroded.

000 Broadly speaking there are two traditions in European Political Philosophy, best known to the British through the writing of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. In Hobbes' world view the natural life of man is famously described as "Poor, mean, brutish, nasty and short." The only way to avoid this state of affairs is through the creation of the "leviathan," a monstrous all embracing set of social shackles binding everyone tightly together into a common destiny. This is the philosophy of Big Government, of totalitarianism, of Germany's Third Reich.

000 The British have followed the other way, that of Locke. This is a view of man as a more or less convivial social animal capable of free association and economic competence in creating and maintaining a social system with minimal centralised authority. This is the philosophy of small government based on individual liberties under a common law created by tradition and precedent rather than legislation.

000 The most significant factor in all this in terms of the practice of psychotherapy is that while in the Hobbist European societies of mainland Europe people are forbidden to do things unless formally given permission by the Leviathan to do so, in the British, Lockeist society we have long been free to do as we think fit unless specifically forbidden to do so.

000 Even today anyone can call themselves a doctor and practice medicine. Only the prescription of certain drugs is controlled by law. I believe that this is a fundamental political freedom. How very curious that it should be a pressure group of psychotherapists which is agitating to overturn this liberty.

000 Many of us have been drawn to the practice of psychotherapy out of a sense that the individual is often so badly impinged on by social pressures to conform to oppressive societal norms, that she needs intensive help to be enabled to pursue an individual destiny. How bizarre that people who one might reasonably be expected to be committed to individual liberty and self-determination should actually be so determined to generate significant measures of social control. As Mowbray indicates in his erudite book against psychotherapy registration, once you have a law giving authority to a psychotherapy registration board, only a small amendment turns that power into something really coercive. It could all too easily gain control of all psycho-practice, to use Postle's term.

000 This focuses my attention on Postle's argument from human nature.


000 Freud's view of human nature is fundamentally pessimistic. His early picture of the human being as an ego heroically struggling to balance the demands of a repressive society or superego, and the antisocial and/or destructive forces of instinct in the Id, became darker with the passing years and the rise of Nazism in Germany. His philosophical writing or meta-psychology took him away from sexuality, or rather the principle of Eros, the love energy that connects people and creates life and even "Beyond the Pleasure Principle" itself into an emphasis on compulsion repetition and the triumph of destructiveness over creativity, in the form of his death instinct, Thanatos.

000 Freud was a typical Hobbist, a normal product of his cultural environment, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which was a pretty standard nineteenth century European Patriarchal Authoritarian regime. His is a fundamentally pessimistic philosophy, a gloomy conception of human nature. His picture of society is that of the uneasy rule of the Primal authoritarian Father constantly vigilant against the rebellion of the sons. It is a version of Zeus and Chronos. This picture is developed into a psychology through the Oedipus Complex. At the centre of the whole scenario is castration anxiety, made very real and personally explicit for Freud in the profound threat and warning of castration that is circumcision. (We might come to a better understanding of Freud if we thought of his psychology as the outcome of circumcision trauma than castration anxiety, in my view.) This assertion of the control and dominance of the Father is made ritually explicit in the Jewish culture from which Freud comes.

000 One of the core elements of political philosophy is the relation of Man with his maker, with God. And behind the philosophy lies Myth, explanatory story telling. Psychotherapy is an outgrowth from a Christian value system or worldview. The individual human being is seen as made in the image of God and as such of immense value. But the creation is also fundamentally flawed. It falls short. It is sinful. This contrasts strongly with middle eastern philosophies where the individual has very little intrinsic value, or the eastern view that Man is actually already perfect, but has lost the understanding of this perfection which can be regained through meditation.

000 The world of perfection for our Judeo-Christian world is the garden of Eden, from which we have been expelled for disobedience to the Authoritarian father God. (For the ideal world of psychotherapy Freud took on God's mantel and sceptre and then bequeathed them to his heirs, the Institute of Psychoanalysis.) Eden is a garden and its God is a gardener. The institute of Psychoanalysis withdrew to a new and higher heaven when its members were not welcomed as Patriarchs in the second Eden of U.K.C.P. Suddenly, as Postle describes it, the open meadow of British psycho-practice is to be turned into a walled garden. The successive chairs of the council, Van Deurzen and Tantam start to make considerable use of the gardening metaphor.( Self and Society 96) Did they even begin to notice how they were turning themselves into Patriarchal Gods and rulers of the new Eden by reversion to such mythic language.

000 This is a new version of an older struggle that many of us fought with the Behaviourists, the academic psychologists of the 60's and 70's. Keith Paton's paper" Rat, Myth and Magic. 1969" exposed the political realities behind an earlier generation of behaviour therapists bid for power. B.F Skinner wrote "Beyond Freedom and Dignity" as a light on the path to a brave new world of scientific control of deviant human behaviour through programmes of reinforcement and the shaping of new more acceptable behaviours.

000 The doyenne of the British version of such totalitarian thinking, Hans Eysenck, is now welcomed onto the world stage of psychotherapy, as an ethically acceptable member of the first world congress of psychotherapy. Must we be reminded again of the importance of Noam Chomsky's discovery that human language has an essentially world open quality, that it can generate an infinite number of sentences, that it cannot be reduced to a set of reinforceable behaviours. As a user of language the human being is free to create. There is never likely to be a science that can predict and control that creativity.

000 The current refuge for the Patriarchs of psychotherapy is Science. The new European Association of psychotherapy insists that psychotherapy is and must be science. This is another version of the myth of the therapist God as gardener. It actually defies the discoveries of modern science. Quantum mechanics long ago discovered that the observer impacts on his own experiment. There is no Euclidean point outside of physical reality from which to make objective judgements. Even less is there an objective place outside of a relationship between two human beings to make any scientific judgements about psychotherapy. The only important finding of outcome research in psychotherapy is that it is a positive relationship between client and therapist which makes for success and not methodology.(Yalom and Lieberman.)

000 The only person I know who has yet made an attempt at a science of persons and relationships is R.D. Laing, who has been long expelled from the garden of ethical practice. Even Laing was forced to give up this project in the face of too much complexity. His next work after" the interpersonal perception method ", which was his attempt to create a scientific system for description of human interaction patterns, was his little book of polemic "Knots". He abandoned science and accepted the reality of his art, without ever explicitly and publicly making this decision.

000 There are powerful technologies of communication like neuro-linguistic-programming and process oriented -psychology, but even these have been found by their own exponents and teachers to fail in psychotherapy without a spiritual base.(see Amy Mindell. Metaskills.)

000 Making claims for science in psychotherapy is an attempt to revert to an outmoded paradigm, that of Newtonian mechanics, with humans as solid isolated billiard balls whose movements, inner and outer, can be gauged by some set of equations. Science shares the goals of the psycho-bureaucrats, prediction and control. Control all the variables in therapy and you can start to predict the outcomes. Control all the variables in society and all you have is totalitarianism. Already the political pendulum is swinging away from confidence in changing people through environmental influences. We may soon be facing a new wave of eugenics as science sets out to control personality. The attempt to place psychotherapy into the domain of science is a piece of disturbing sophistry. It looks attractive, seems appealing, but is based on a philosophical fallacy. Psychotherapy is about value and values. It involves the discussion, the exploration of value and values. And as any student of philosophy and ethics can tell you, there is no way to move from the domain of values to the domain of facts. Science is concerned with facts.

000 Postle suggests that a negative pessimistic Freudian philosophy has shaped and tainted the development of U.K.C.P. He argues his case strongly. However I find his juxtaposed humanistic model as naively optimistic as the Freudian is dourly pessimistic. He talks about both approaches beginning with birth. Sadly this leaves out of consideration all events before birth and during birth.

000 What happens if we look at both these philosophies in the light of what we are learning in terms of pre and perinatal psychology. Both approaches, despite appearances are very concerned about dealing with bad stuff But the bad stuff is not a phantasy of a bad breast but the historic fact of toxins transmitted through the umbilicus into the foetus. In the pessimistic scenario the badness has been projected into the foetus. It has eaten of the tree of knowledge, the umbilicus, and been poisoned by it. The mother/environment has pushed its bad stuff into the child. So the world environment or matrix needs to be protected from the child's wrathful revenge. Society needs protection from the destructiveness of its individuals, the psychotherapy client population must be protected from the destructiveness of its psychotherapists.

000 In the optimistic humanistic scenario time is regressed before the dreadful invasion of badness. But somehow there is a hidden knowledge of the possibility of the bad stuff The bad stuff is kept projected in the environment. Badness from outside is seen as distorting the basic goodness of the foetus who would otherwise be true, pure, lovely and of good report. One of the plenary papers at the 1998 congress of the International Society for Prenatal and Perinatal psychology and Medicine was given by Thomas Verny on the theme of the goodness of the prenate, providing evidence of behaviour interpreted as altruism.

000 Is it really possible to go beyond this polarisation and splitting? The Christian Church tried to escape this polarisation by saying that evil did not really exist and should not be given ontological status. They did so because for evil to exist in its own right would compromise the existence of the One good God. In the face of the current level of atrocity in the Balkans not so many people find it convincing to think of evil as no more than a relative deprivation of the good. Human behaviour is sometimes quite inhuman. But can a trained psychotherapist seriously consider accepting the current British propaganda that the Serbs are bad and the Cosovo Albanians are good innocent victims. There is a war on. Tremendous social pressure comes into play to project all badness into the enemy while reserving all that is good to our side. The famous Milgram social psychology experiments are just one of many examples of how people can behave with far greater cruelty to others when encouraged and sanctioned by group membership and authority within a social grouping.

000 I believe it is a sound observation based at least in part on research into group behaviour, that an individual tends to act with more moral responsibility than a group, that a small group tends to behave with greater responsibility than a large group and that the least morally and socially responsible group is the nation state. Membership of larger and more bureaucratised groups serves to reduce individual autonomy and moral responsibility rather than enhancing it. On this basis I cannot see how the existence of a large controlling institution for psychotherapy would provide any real protection for the potential client.

000 The stress of war recapitulates the stress of being born. The persons capacity to hold onto a unity of being that is neither good nor bad but just is, becomes overwhelmed in both situations. In war I can feel good when I kill my enemy and rape his wife, for my cause is just. In birth the suffering is such that if I am to feel good in myself I am likely to perceive the world as very bad. Primal unity is shattered and the world is split into goodness and badness.

000 I would like to make a plea for a psychotherapists view of human nature that is about Being and Personhood rather than mechanistic processes, about the core value of an individual human being rather than the collective, about human rights and responsibilities rather than fixed codes of behaviour, about artistry and creativity rather than scientific prediction and control, about plurality and diversity as opposed to moulding and conditioning. I note that this is the opposite of the value system proposed by Van Deurzen, the U.K.C.P. chair. "We have to transform what used to be a craft or an art based on moral or religious principles into a scientifically based accountable professional expertise" ( Van Deurzen as quoted by Postle) I find this all the more distressing from a supposed existential phenomenologist and philosopher and member of the humanistic and integrative section of the Council.

000 Postle shows very clearly the dominant influence of the pessimistic world view on members of U.K.C.P. He suggests that the " infinite easygoingness of the humanistic/integrative culture has led to a loss of political will, a failure of nerve and/or courage in relations with the psychoanalytic tradition." I do not believe this is generally the case though there may be truth there as well. Humanistic therapists have tended to focus on human potential rather than human weakness, but when over an extended period they discover and get bogged down in transference phenomena they tend to feel out of their depth and turn to psychoanalysis for help. Too often I have seen sudden changes in practitioners resembling Paul's on the road to Damascus. In recent years I am finding supposedly humanistic practitioners more analytic than the analysts. While analytic practitioners I know grow critical of their long experienced methodology the less experienced humanistic people become the naive advocates of the more established way of working. One of my major concerns is the newer, less established groupings attempting to be more establishment than the establishment, more elitist than the elite. Take the example of the Association of Humanistic Psychology Practitioners moving towards severance with the Association for Humanistic Psychology itself, since the latter is opposed to professionalisation.

000 This article is only a partial response to Denis Postle. I will write more later. I have provided the readers with plenty of data to help them make up their own minds about the answers to some of the questions that Denis Postle and I have posed. I hope 1 have at least contributed something to the debate about the future of psychotherapy in the United Kingdom. My own sense is that both the Oxford Centre for Human Relations and the U.K. Standing Conference for Psychotherapy were noble and worthwhile ventures which have been hugely damaged by the dynamics of the emergence of Institutional Power and Control. This writing seems to me to leave open the question of whether wiser, more mature individuals could have done a better job, or whether it is another simple proof of the old adage that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

000 I have some hopes for a way forward. Some improvement can be made with my own polarisation with the views of Van Deurzen. I believe that science has a very important part to play in researching the world of the unborn baby, which is so important to pushing back the boundaries of what can be addressed in therapy. But this new knowledge is of very little value without an acceptance of the human integrity of the baby and a willingness to relate to him or her as such. Very few doctors seem to be able to do this at present. Very few psychotherapists are able to tackle the intense anxiety of working with the dynamics of birth material.

000 Freud Sigmund 1950 Hogarth Press. Beyond the Pleasure Principle.
000 H.I.P.S. Ethos statement Available from U.K.C.P.
000 Hobbes Thomas. 1651 Fontana 1961 The Leviathon.
000 Janus Ludvig 1997 Sept. I.S.P.P.M. seminar London.
000 Jones.D. 1992 Interview with Emmy van Deurzen Smith, Self and Society23.4
000 Jung C.G. 1954 R.K.P Vol 16 Collected Works. The Practice of Psychotherapy
000 Jung C.G. Memories Dreams Reflections.
000 Laing R.D. 1963 Penguin. Self and Others.
000 Laing R.D. 1967 Penguin. The Politics Of Experience
000 Laing R.D. 1970 Tavistock Press. The Interpersonal Perception Method

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