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October 19th 20001

For additional background on the professionalisation and regulation of psychotherapy be sure check out our growing collection of articles and other items here on IPNOSIS and on our sister site G.O.R.I.L.L.A.and in IPNOSISpaper space
IPNOSIS welcomes comments and especially contradictions. We'd love to see a cogently argued article that explains why the Statutory Regulation of psychotherapy is a good idea.
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If you want to follow developments as this Bill drops off the government's agenda .
...you'll find here (soon) some links that are worth trying.

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The Psychotherapy Bill was effectively killed off in the Lords during the committee stage debate this week (February 19) when Lord Burlison announced the government's plans for a consumer driven 'order-in-council' approach to the regulation of psychotherapy and, we may expect, counselling. IPNOSIS intends to continue to be a key focus for sceptical and dissenting views on these developments.
When, close to two years ago, I was trying to find out what was in the Department of Health's mind re psychotherapy regulation, one of the researcher's I talked to outlined what he felt was the obvious way to deal with the complications of psychotherapy regulation...an order in council that creates 'a
federal and multi-disciplinary Health Professions Council' to include psychotherapists and related workers.

The news that an updated version of this was indeed the government's intended future for psychotherapy fell as a 'bombshell' into the archaic back-slapping of the few peers who bothered to pay any attention to the committee stage proceedings of the Alderdice Bill on February 22nd.

I never had any sense that the Dept of Health valued the Psychotherapy Bill. The BACP intervention (see opposite, right) i.e. making a loud reminder that Alderdice intended to side-line the tens of thousands of counsellors whose work overlaps comprehensively with psychotherapy, may have been decisive in eroding any remaining interest the DofH may have had in Alderdice's ludicrous piece of legislation.

There is another view that I guess has a lot going for it. This says that if IPNOSIS knew almost two years ago that an 'order in council' approach to Psychotherapy regulation was favoured in the Department of Health, then certainly the BCP and UKCP did too. In which case the Alderdice Bill makes sense as a last ditch attempt for the BCP and UKCP to annex the territory before the government applies industrial strength consumer power to their preferences for authority and seniority.

This is especially true I fancy for the psychoanalytic/psychodymanic end of the 'caring-for-the-human-condition' trade, privileged in both the NHS and UKCP but increasingly vulnerable to challenges around effectiveness. Their claims to seniority and shameless authoritarianism can hardly have endeared them to the Department of Health (and have locally been the subject of well documented recent complaints)

Was it ever conceivable that, following the GMC's inadequacy in the face of recent psychiatric, surgical and GP malpractice, there would be government support for cloning its approach to regulation for psychotherapists? That Alderdice and the UKCP medics thought so may turn out to be further evidence, were it needed, of their myopic, trade association approach to matters of deep psycho-social subtlety.

What now? I recommend reading the government statement from the Psychotherapy Bill 2nd Reading debate which outlines what the government appears to have in mind.

Attempts to annex the territory of psychotherapy in favour of a medicalised and academicised therapy seem certain to continue. Vigilance continues to be essential.

Consultations are promised. IPNOSIS will be interested to see who gets through the door. And who votes with their feet for the 'caring-for-the-human-condition' trade to become an arm of government. But who knows... perhaps the government will succeed where others have failed... in devising an umbrella that matches the diversity of the multitude of existing form of accountability.

Two books have emerged recently that fill in some of the background to these events and especially the lack of respect for dissent...Nick Totton's excellent Politics and Psychotherapy (Sage) gives a more sympathetic and informed perspective on psychonalytic origins than often emerges from humanistic practitioners...and Douglas Kirnser's Unfree Associations: Inside Psychoanalytic Institutes', is a fascinating study of the social relations of psychoanalysis worldwide...
'Given the nature of the discipline and the level of knowledge within it, I would argue that the claim to knowledge implied by qualification is far greater than the real level of knowledge. Instead of facing this central issue, analysts often substantiate the knowledge implied by qualification in terms of anointment'.
...if you want to taste the origins of the UKCP and BCP's attitudes to dissent, try reading the 'Conclusion' of Kirsner's book, substituting 'psychotherapy' wherever he speaks of 'psychoanalysis'.
Finally, extracted from a recent talk.... here is a brief pictorial history of the evolution of psychotherapy professionalisation in the UK.


Order in Council creating a Health Professions Council

Recent contact with the Department of Health confirms that the government seeks to pursue 'statutory regulation of psychotherapists counsellors and related groups' There will be 'full consultation with all the stakeholders'.
see extract

How bizarrely wonderful to find that a department of state is a great deal more open-minded and valuing of plurality and inclusion than the regulationist bureaucracies arising from the psycho-practice field?

What counts as 'consultation and who counts as a stake-holder remains to be seen. The DofH will need advanced skills in the herding of cats to get the BCP and the BAC (to name only two) under one roof.

But fear works wonders and despite the extreme contradiction of counsellors actively raising anxieties in others... the mickey mouse counselling tendency at the BAC +newly discovered P are currently busy doing just that...

In CPJ March 2001 (the BAC+P's refurbished journal...) Sally Aldridge Head of Accreditation is quoted as saying...

'What it means for our members is that they must get themselves accredited for their own protection for the future'... 'When they bring in regulation it will be individuals who will be registered. It will be registration by title which means that only those who are registered will be able to call themselves counsellors and psychotherapists. So if you haven't hit the standard you won't be able to practise'.

Feel the fear... do what we tell you...
These are Counsellors, or at least admin. staff speaking in the language of coercion and anxiety.

Just as the BAC was asleep to the developments around them... they appear asleep to the ethical implications of the above kinds of power play.

spaceJudging by the surprising amount of traffic on this site since it opened in September 1999 IPNOSIS is becoming a key source of information for those inside the regulationist compound too.
space We hope you will continue to join us here in following the development of The Health Professions Council. IPNOSIS welcomes insider comments, objections, whistle blowing (and guarantees discretion).

Because the structures of the Psychotherapy Bill are likely to continue to form the basis of elbow work between psycho-counselling stakeholders... and because it epitomises how badly legislation can be drawn... IPNOSIS will keep the text of the published Bill available here. The review below is an adequate and readable account of the whole of it

read Detailed comprehensive review of the first draft of the bill
download detailed comprehensive review of the first draft of the bill as .rtf

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edited, maintained and © Denis Postle 1999, 2000