Open Letter regarding SCoPEd by Caz Binstead

Open letter regarding SCoPEd Project

By Caz Binstead  – Counsellor/Psychotherapist in Private Practice, and Clinical Supervisor. Currently sitting on the BACP Private Practice Executive Committee.

12th August 2019

SCoPEd – wow! If there is one word that seems to evoke or frustrate as much as Brexit, it is surely this word!

Amongst the nationwide and global uncertainty, now would feel like an opportune time for unity. Unfortunately, our caring profession, which exists to help people with their emotional well-being, has, this year, become a tense place of uncertainty and worry, and a sparing ground of accusation and recrimination.

As someone who sits on the Private Practice Divisional Executive, at the BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy), and is a member in my own right, I have had to decide on which side of the debate I lie. Some of my colleagues, such as board members, Una Cavanagh and Andrew Reeves, have recently set out their own personal opinions, and so too, I am choosing here to follow suit.  

It is important to state that this article is me writing from my capacity as an independent therapist, and is focussing on my own personal viewpoints of the SCoPEd project itself, and, some of the ramifications (direct and indirect), that have come about since its launch. I wish to also critically evaluate how this project affects us as current members, and ponder how to best move forward in an inclusive and positive way.

In short, I have decided, that I cannot support SCoPEd, thereby concluding that I will need to vote for an AGM Resolution that is being put forward to halt the project (Stevens & Shennan, 2019). This is not at all easy for me as someone who holds a position at the BACP, and who supports the work of not only my own division (where I am currently the lead on an exciting project for new private practitioners), but the work and potential of the BACP as an organisation in general.  For me though, being a member of a professional body, is of immense importance and responsibility; it is a place where we work collectively, to ensure the best for our profession. I have avidly read all of the material that has been put out on the subject, and also asked questions and spoken to many people on both sides of the argument. I hope I am supported by my colleagues at the BACP in joining the wider conversation, doing what I feel deep down is right, and activating my rights as a fully paid member. For context, I am currently working as a therapist in private practice, and a clinical supervisor (including, of trainees on a BACP Accredited Training Course).

SCoPEd has been described as ‘a ground-breaking project to map professional competencies for the counselling and psychotherapy professions (BACP, 2019) .

There is so much critical debate which I could go into in this article, but many of these important themes and questions, have already been picked up on by a multitude of people via academic papers and open letters. Some of the criticisms are as follows: it creates a hierarchy, it pigeon-holes practitioners, it makes a distinction between counselling and psychotherapy in a way never done before by BACP, it denigrates counselling, it favours certain modalities,  it shows gaps and inaccuracies in the mapping itself, it poses a question of what a ‘point of entry’ actually means and how accreditation fits with this, it ignores the deeply enriching relational element of our work, and finally, it uses a particular methodology that many have criticised. On the other side, SCoPEd team states that they are aiming to promote the value of therapy and create more opportunities for members, and are listening and responding to the feedback they receive. These critiques are largely available on social media, and I would encourage everyone to seek out and read both the challenges posed, and the BACP’s responses, to some of them.

In some ways, navigating my way around the project, has felt a bit like being lost in rabbit’s warren. And at times when I think I understand it, suddenly more questions arise. One good example of this, is on the point around the titled columns (column 1; Counsellor, Column 2: Advanced Counsellor, Column 3; Psychotherapist). A question on this arose during the recently filmed interview put out by the BACP (chaired by Faisal Mahmood, senior lecturer in counselling/psychotherapy, Newman University), featuring, Chief Executive Hadyn Williams, Chief Professional Standards Officer and Chair of the Technical Group of SCoPEd, Fiona Ballantine-Dykes, and Board Chair Andrew Reeves (BACP, 2019). Fiona, in answering the question specifically on BACP’s long-standing differing position to the other bodies on the idea of rigid titles, states:

“The titles, is probably one of the biggest problems we’ve got, because it suggests hierarchy, and it suggests that they’ve been decided. And actually, neither of these things are true. If we just put aside what we call those areas of competencies, or what the person doing them is, then you start to have a more possible conversation. And I think, with the benefit of hindsight, we took a leap there, and there are reasons for that which would take a long time to explain…..we’ve got to own that – that was not a good thing to do”

 However, just two weeks later, BACP Vice President Julia Samuel says, in an article put out by the BACP and published on their website and social media sites :

“I don’t see that we are denigrating what we already have by trying to have a clear understanding of what the words counsellor and psychotherapist are” (Samuel, 2019)

But hang on – I thought we weren’t using titles? Confused?! Me too!

Ironically, given the purpose of SCoPEd was to provide more clarity for the public, much of the criticism has focussed on an ongoing sense of bewilderment regarding the muddled nature of the project, levels of miscommunication, and an ongoing lack of clarity – hardly encouraging for clients, when therapists themselves are struggling to understand. 

Some of this confusion was around what this framework meant for existing practitioners. BACP have since worked to rectify this, and it is apparent that that there are three stages to SCoPEd:

  1. Mapping (framework put together), 
  2. Consultation (present stage),
  3. Implementation (the final stage). 

As much focus to date has been on the ‘mapping stage’, I want in this piece, to reflect on the Implementation stage of the project.

Implementation, is the stage which must be of most interest to current practitioners, because, it will be at this stage where there is a degree of unknown, and that vital decisions could be made which would affect you, and your practice. This is important, because once the ‘consultation stage’ is over (even with the extension), there is theoretically, no stopping the project. Implementation means implementation. Yet, weirdly, in this case, in addition to its routine meaning, it also means adding an unquantifiable number of unknowns for current practitioners, and crucially, past the point of consultation. SCoPEd team’s answer, lies in us, trusting the process. Therefore, it seemed fitting in response, to ask myself sincerely if I do have a problem with trusting the process? Well, honestly, I can say with much reflection – I don’t. In fact, it forms a big part of my work as a therapist, both in the practice, and the underpinning philosophy of what informs my work. Do I have a problem though, with sitting with this particular uncertainty, yes…an emphatic yes, and I’ll tell you why. To trust a process, you have to feel secure in the boundaries and framework surrounding it. This, is what creates safety for people. Therapists have paid thousands of pounds to train in this profession, and of course, people are going to be concerned about any changing of the ‘goal posts’ .It is a lot to ask someone to trust the process, when what they knew before, is subject to change, and where this is based on a basic framework that many people now do not trust, particularly given BACP have had to concede that several elements are not viable in their current state. This leaves us with a real lack of backbone information about the Implementation stage in particular. To me, that does not feel safe conditions to trust the process.

Given the number of under-employed therapists out there, I in fact consider myself to be one of the lucky ones. I have a fulltime private practice which I earn my entire living from, I have an interesting position at the BACP, alongside all the other wonderful opportunities I have been afforded in my career. However, I work with colleagues in all differing positions, who are not necessarily so lucky, and would be potentially more affected by the introduction of SCoPEd. Here’s a case study to illustrate:

 Sheila, a counsellor, has been qualified for 3 years, and is registered but not accredited. She has struggled with previously finding a paid position, and finds it difficult to maintain a private practice so as a result has money issues. Despite this, she been working hard for free for hundreds of hours beyond qualification, with the hope of building up more experience. The idea of SCoPEd to her therefore, brings a new level of disillusionment. She would fall into ‘column 1’, which defines her knowledge and skills in a certain way – much less than someone in ‘column 3’ who may only be newly qualified but already could be looking more attractive to potential employers. She feels that despite having worked for free to increase her employability, she is back to square 1.

What ramifications there might be for people – or not – despite, any good intentions by the bodies involved, will be of immense importance on a socio-economic level to many people. Because, to live in a world means many things, which includes, consideration of income, job security, status in the world, and how all that and more, affects our own mental health. 

Whilst I applaud any aspirations, that existing therapists can move into the higher tiers through either ‘top up’ courses or potentially CPD, how this would actually work in practice, is a huge question in itself. For instance, in an unregulated profession, there is nothing, or rather, nobody, to ensure that private training colleges’ entry access policies, will indeed evolve with SCoPEd, to provide these easier top-up routes.  In fact, there may even be more of an incentive for Psychotherapy Course fees to be increased, to meet the demand for the higher status of ‘column 3’, thereby creating further alienation and inequality in certain sectors of our field. And on the latter point regarding CPD, again, a great ideal, but frankly, this would be an absolute logistical minefield to process.

I also find myself asking, why I have to trust the process? I made a decision many years ago to train as a therapist in an unregulated profession, and those qualifications, who I work with, and how I identify, whatever, for whoever, ought, to be honoured.

Andrew Reeves has been vocal about the fact that he supports the principle of SCoPEd and disagrees with the notion it should be scrapped entirely, even though, he is critical of aspects of it. He states “The majority of the criticisms has called for it to be scrapped, but so few have offered anything in its place….I would have loved a resolution for the AGM this year that demanded BACP do something different” (Reeves, 2019). I am not sure that it is the job of the proponent of the resolution to come up with this, and I myself do not think SCoPEd in its current form can necessarily be rectified, but it did get me thinking about what might be an alternative way forward. In short, I actually see where we are at, as a great opportunity. Regulation, standardisation, licensing – these are all historically, hugely complex questions, and let’s face it, we all have differing opinions. SCoPEd, is a bit of a ‘halfway house regulation’, and with that, comes all kinds of potential problems, identified in other critiques, and also as mentioned above, questions around how you manage equality of training education, equal access to the profession regardless of class, etc, particularly, when we might even call some of the parties involved, stakeholders themselves. I personally think there is some sense, in beginning wider conversations again within the profession, to see where we are at. Mick Cooper, professor of Counselling Psychology at The University of Roehampton, who worked on the HCPC panel back in 2009 discussing regulation, recently wrote a short comment on social media regarding SCoPEd, and pointed out that back then, 87% of BACP members who responded to a survey, ‘opposed the proposed differentiation between counsellors and psychotherapists’. How interesting it would be to see if that has changed at all? We need to ask those questions. This would give BACP, in particular, a further chance to embrace their commitment to be operating through a ‘member’s lens’ (as the membership team has so successfully done with the recent generic survey). 

There is also a great opportunity here, for a broad church of collaboration. There has been much talk of National Counselling Society, who holds a PSA register and has 9000 members, being left out of talks, which clearly needs rectifying if we identify clients, as the most important stakeholders. I am also aware, of the many groups who speak for, and work for, cultural diversity within our profession. For example, a well-known community of qualified therapists, whose mission is to end the prevalence and culture of unpaid work within our profession, currently, has 5,200 Facebook group members (which appears to be their main place of operation). Given BPC, one of the three parties involved in SCoPEd has, according to their website, 1500 registered members, there is an amazing opportunity to open this collaboration up to larger groups representing voices which may feel otherwise unheard or marginalised, and really create a heard voice for our wonderfully diverse profession as it exists today.

There has been a lot of talk about courage recently in trusting the process. And so, I put this challenge back to BACP Senior Leadership – I urge you, to be courageous. If you truly believe in your plan, then yes, write your articles, put forward your argument, allow others to write counter-arguments, debate, and then……. put it to a membership vote. If you commit to a membership vote at this stage, before the implementation, I can sincerely tell you now, that I, and I am sure many others, would cease to support the resolution. If BACP themselves give their membership a voice on this issue through the most democratic process available, it can be decided fairly by professionals whether going ahead with the SCoPEd plan feels the best and most sensible option, or, whether to abandon it fully, and reconvene as a membership body to decide the best way to work collaboratively forward.

Before I conclude, it is of great sorrow for me, that I am compelled here in my article to touch on the subject of bullying and abuse, which almost feels like it’s become synonymous with the SCoPEd project. First off, I am so sorry to hear that individuals on both sides of this argument have been subject to abuse. None of us need telling that it is not okay to harass BACP Board Chair Andrew Reeves in an abusive way, neither is it okay to target the main proponent of the resolution Erin Stevens – or anyone else full-stop. I don’t need to tell anyone that it is not alright to gaslight, or manipulate, nor to use power and control as a means of intentional harming another individual. As therapists who will often come across these themes in our work, we absolutely must be vigilant to such behaviour, in all in guises; both obvious and more subtle, and whether delivered in more overt or covert ways.

We must also remember that there is an important difference between challenge and abuse. This year, I have really felt the burden of worry for some of my fellow practitioners, and immense sadness at times. We must continue to be empathic to each other and understand the level of feeling on either side of the arguments. Though we might not always agree, we must always understand that there is a human being on the other side, and that will include recognising any and all feelings that arise, even anger (as separate to aggression). To many people, this project may feel like an existential threat, and of course, that will provoke a felt response. One thing I am immensely grateful for in this process, is meeting and debating with the many passionate people on both sides who have a lot to offer. I don’t believe we can really condemn passion, or healthy disagreement/debate, or, we would surely be guilty of writing off many a historical figure, Carl Jung included! The fact that people care so much about their profession is a definite hidden gemstone in all of this. In fact, it warms my heart thinking that there could be a large collaboration of dedicated people working forward together to achieve the best for our profession, for our clients, ourselves, and, in terms of employment and recognition at government levels.

I’ll end therefore by extending my best wishes to anybody who feels inspired and energised to contribute to this very important discussion. Truly, through conversation and working together, we can seek to make our profession the best that it can be for clients and therapists alike.
eferences

BACP, 2019. SCoPEd (Scope of Practice and Education). [Online].

BACP, M., 2019. SCoPEd Panal Discussion [Interview] 2019.

Reeves, A., 2019. BACP A view from the chair. [Online].

Samuel, J., 2019. BACP. [Online]
Available at: https://bacp.co.uk/news

Stevens, E. & Shennan, T., 2019. [Online]
Available at: https://ukcounsellors.co.uk/bacp-members-resolution-2019-vote-to-scrap-scoped/

 

To engage further with me on this debate, feel free to email me on:

cazbinstead.counselling@gmail.com

 

Correspondence re a possible All-Party Parliamentary Group on Counselling and Psychotherapy

To be read from the bottom to the top

 

Dear Gary,                                                             24th July 2019


Thank you for responding. We think it would be a constructive move if your attempts to find an MP or MPs to chair or spearhead the APPG were put on hold until all the organisations interested in this matter have had a chance to meet. Would your three organisations be agreeable to this request for a pause in activity?

In this way, we will stand a better chance of preserving the unity of the professions of psychotherapy and counselling.

Please let us know the thoughts of your member organisations.

Best wishes,

Richard Bagnall-Oakeley (Chair, Psychotherapy and Counselling Union) [Use this e-mail address for correspondence[

Maria Albertsen (for Counsellors Together)

Bea Millar (Chair, Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility)

Dr David Murphy (United Kingdom Person-Centred Experiential)

Professor Ian Parker (President, College of Psychoanalysts)

Professor Andrew Samuels (Alliance for Counselling and Psychotherapy) 

Janet Tolan (Chair, The Person Centred Association)

 

Dear Richard,                                                                 22nd July 2019

I’m writing on behalf of the three organisations (BACP, BPC and UKCP) about your request, from a range of organisations and individuals, to meet to discuss the idea of an APPG for counselling and psychotherapy.

Given the current unprecedented political climate and the impending summer break it seems highly unlikely there will be any developments for some months. As such there is very little we can say about the issue at the moment and suggest we see where we are in the autumn when there may be something to discuss.

APPGs are, of course, created by Parliamentarians and its membership is only Parliamentarians. There seems to have been some misunderstanding about this by some in the psychotherapy and counselling profession. If such a group were to be created it would then be for the Parliamentarians to engage with whoever they chose.

I hope this helps and suggest we pick the thread up in the autumn.

Yours sincerely,

Gary

Gary Fereday Chief Executive | British Psychoanalytic Council

 

 

Dear Chairs and Chief Executives of BACP, UKCP and BPC,    17th July 2019

Following correspondence, including with yourselves, the seven organisations listed below request that you meet with us. Together, we are, at present, the main stakeholders from within the fields of psychotherapy and counselling.

Our own organisations represent approximately 6,000 psychotherapists and counsellors and we feel that it is important to discuss the proposed All Party Parliamentary Group on psychotherapy and counselling before further approaches to MPs are made by yourselves.

It is clear that there are significant concerns about recent developments in the field of therapy, and a risk of conflicts and hostility between organisations and an erosion of trust in the professional bodies.

Hence, we are seeking dialogue between our organisations to avoid further damaging conflicts about the future of psychotherapy and counselling in the UK.

We look forward to hearing from you – with, we hope, a proposal for the kind of meeting we describe in this letter.

Richard Bagnall-Oakeley (Chair, Psychotherapy and Counselling Union) [Use this e-mail address for correspondence[

Maria Albertsen (for Counsellors Together)

Bea Millar (Chair, Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility)

Dr David Murphy (United Kingdom Person-Centred Experiential)

Professor Ian Parker (President, College of Psychoanalysts)

Professor Andrew Samuels (Alliance for Counselling and Psychotherapy) 

Janet Tolan (Chair, The Person Centred Association)

PCSR podcasts

PCSR podcasts about SCoPEd and State Regulation

Podcast 1      Clare Slaney interviews Erin Stevens about Erin’s journey to putting a resolution to BACP AGM to scrap SCoPEd

Podcast 2      PCSR talks with Prof Andrew Samuels about past attempts to regulate our work

Report arising from meeting with Equalities Office July 2019

On 1 July 2019 PCSR Steering Group met with senior policy advisers from the government Equalities Office. We offer this report for three reasons:

  1. to keep members informed about the work of the Steering Group.
  2. to summarize what we believe to be the most important points in this issue.
  3. to give background to a request from the Equalities Office for members to contribute towards their work.

The Steering Group of PCSR has been in correspondence with the Equalities Office to discuss our concerns about the composition of the LGBT Advisory Panel.  One of the stated aims of this Panel is to seek legislative and non-legislative means to end conversion ‘therapy’ (CT.)

We wanted to understand why therapists were not represented on the Advisory Panel, particularly after the many years of work by therapists that have resulted in the Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy in the UK.
https://www.psychotherapy.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/UKCP-Memorandum-of-Understanding-on-Conversion-Therapy-in-the-UK.pdf

 We were interested to know more about qualified counsellor and psychotherapist involvement in CT.

 We wanted to discuss the term ‘Conversion Therapy’. Like other therapists we were clear that CT is not therapeutic and not related to therapy. PCSR believes these actions to be inherently unethical and that in many circumstances they may constitute abuse.

The term “Efforts to change sexual orientation or gender identity” is being used by Coventry University (see below.) We were reassured that a term other than ‘therapy’ is being sought by the Equalities Office to describe these actions.

For ease of reading we will continue to use the abbreviation CT. When a term is agreed, we will use it.

Background  

“The Government Equalities Office leads work on policy relating to women, sexual orientation and transgender equality. They are responsible for a range of equalities legislation.” The Minister is Penny Mordaunt.

In November 2018 the Equalities Office opened recruitment for an LGBT Advisory Panel. In March 2019 a National LGBT Advisor and the LGBT Panel was announced.

The National LGBT Advisor is Dr Michael Brady, Medical Director of the Terrence Higgins Trust and a sexual health and HIV consultant at King’s College Hospital. He will advise the government on how to tackle inequality in the healthcare system including:

  • improving healthcare professionals’ awareness of LGBT issues
  • the implementation of sexual orientation monitoring across the NHS
  • working with statutory and professional organisations to address LGBT issues in physical and mental health services

The LGBT Panel has 3 permanent members, CEO’s appointed by the Secretary of State.

  • Paul Martin, Chief Executive of LGBT Foundation
  • Paul Roberts, Chief Executive of Consortium
  • Ruth Hunt, Chief Executive of Stonewall

There are 9 other people on the Panel

  • Catherine Meads, Professor of Health at Anglia Ruskin University
  • S Chelvan, Barrister at No5 Barristers’ Chambers, specialising in international human rights and LGBT asylum cases
  • Ellen Murray, Executive Director of Transgender Northern Ireland
  • James Morton, Manager at the Scottish Trans Alliance and member of the Parliamentary Forum on Gender Identity
  • Jayne Ozanne, Director of the Ozanne Foundation and member of the Church of England’s General Synod
  • Lewis Turner, Chief Executive of Lancashire LGBT
  • Marcel Varney, Assistant Director of Children’s Services at Barnardo’s
  • Paul Dillane, ex-Executive Director of Kaleidoscope Trust
  • Stevie-Jade Hardy, Associate Professor of Criminology and expert on equalities and hate crime at the University of Leicester

4 of these people are attending specifically to the issue of CT.

They will advise entire Panel on “legislative and non-legislative ways to end CT.”

  • S Chelvan
  • Marcel Varney
  • Stevie Jade Harvey
  • Jayne Ozanne

Advising them are Dr Michael Brady (the LGBT Advisor) and Dr Igi Moon, who spoke on ‘Genderqueer and Feminism’ at PCSR’s 4th Wave of Feminism conference in July 2015. The Coalition Against Conversion Therapy (MoU signatories) agreed that Igi Moon should represent the psychotherapy sector on the group.

The National LGBT Survey

2017 Equalities Office research

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-lgbt-survey-summary-report

 More than 108,000 people participated, the largest national survey of LGBT people in the world to date. In terms of CT, 2% of respondents had had CT and 5% had been offered it.

The survey found

  1. In terms of sexual orientation, Asexual people are the most likely group to undergo and be offered conversion therapy
  2. In relation to Gender Identity – Trans respondents were much more likely to have undergone or been offered conversion therapy more than cis people.
  3. That more Trans men have been offered CT than non-binary people or Trans women
  4. That more Trans women have had conversion therapy than Trans men or non-binary people
  5. That those most likely to have been offered CT or undergone CT live in Northern Ireland and London.

Who conducts CT to cis and Trans people?

  1. By far the greatest are faith organisations
  2. Healthcare or a medical professional is second – (with far more Trans people being offered CT than cis people)
  3. Parent or guardian or family member
  4. Person from my community
  5. Other individuals or organisations

https://pinktherapyblog.com/2018/08/28/guest-blog-dr-igi-moon/

Also see p14 of the summary report.

Coventry University is in the process of examining the data for more detail. PCSR’s questions: “How many respondents had been subjected to CT by a therapist who belongs to a professional organisation? How many incidents of CT occurred before or after changes to counselling and psychotherapy Ethical Codes and Frameworks that occurred in 2012?” are likely to be answered as part of this work.

The National LGBT Plan was created in response

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/lgbt-action-plan-2018-improving-the-lives-of-lesbian-gay-bisexual-and-transgender-people

CT has broadly taken place in 3 arenas:

  1. Faith/Community/Culture (The importance of discerning differences between culture, community and religion were well understood by the Equalities Office.) ‘Honour’ violence, corrective rape, forced marriage and ‘spiritual strengthening’ were of note.
  2. Medical “pseudo medical, acupuncture, homeopathy” (NB unregulated)
  3. Commercial Companies – often with links to organisations outside of the UK, producing books, residentials, videos etc.

The Equalities Office are collecting data to build an evidence base so that they can signpost or help build solutions: Who’s doing it, why, who does it impact, how are elderly people, younger people and people in social care impacted, what services exist to refer people who have been impacted by CT?

Coventry University, supported by the Government Equalities Office are recruiting for participants for the Efforts to Change Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity’ research. 

Link to the research homepage on Coventry University’s website.

Link to the registration page, which includes information about the purpose and impact of the study.

The research lead is Dr Adam Jowett who can be contacted via adam.jowett@coventry.ac.uk.

Regulation and Protected Titles.

We discussed Geraint Davies MP’s Bill.

https://services.parliament.uk/Bills/2017-19/counsellorsandpsychotherapistsregulationandconversiontherapy.html

We offered the Equalities Office background on where debates on regulation and protected titles are within our professions, and let them know of our concerns that the important work around ending CT may be used to increase pressure for regulation and protected titles, and to curtail necessary debate on these subjects.

We felt heard and understood by the Equalities Office.

We have been invited to remain in touch with the Equalities Office, who will provide updates.

PCSR aims to offer accurate and reliable information. If we have been factually inaccurate please contact us to let us know.

PCSR Steering Group    July 2019

 

 

 

PCSR Annual Gathering and AGM 9th November 2019

PCSR AG and AGM   Saturday 9th November 2019

10am – 4pm   Refreshments from 9.30am

 St Pancras Community Centre 67 Plender Street London NW1 0LB  www.spca.org.uk

Nearest tube: Mornington Crescent   15mins walk from Kings X, Euston and Camden Rd

Drinks and snacks provided, but not lunch.  You can bring your own food to eat on the premises or there are plenty of local cafes and shops nearby.

Morning Event (Annual Gathering) £10*  Click below to book https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/pcsr-annual-gathering-and-agm-tickets-65102219491

Dissent, Collusion and Context 10am – 1pm.

Discussion facilitated by PCSR Steering Group. Members and non-members welcome

As a group, we in PCSR share many ethical/moral values, principally our belief that social justice is inextricable from therapy practice. But there can be tension between these values and the contexts in which our professional organisations function, both in what they expect of us, their members, and the way they relate to government policy.

In the final session of the PCSR Psychotherapy and Politics Conference in May 2019 ‘Dissent and Collusion’ we were exploring where we stand in our attitudes and relationships with mainstream therapy culture and with societal attitudes to mental health and general well-being.

It is a given that many therapy trainings are aligned to a more individualistic ethos, which lends itself to itself to being exploited by a capitalist system. So if we envision the ethical practice of psychotherapy and counselling as inherently political, how do we respond more collectively to dilemmas facing our several ideologies, and our ethics and morals?

Some are personal: for example, how does the need to make a living impact on the way we practise? Others are institutional: for example, how do we respond to the willingness of our professional bodies to collaborate with the DWP, to embrace IAPT, and the pressures to produce ‘throughput’ of apparently functioning but compliant citizens? Do we accept that trainees and newly qualified therapists be exploited by having to work for no pay?  Do we challenge the ongoing discrimination in therapy training and the profession against people of colour and people of diverse sexualities.

Do we collude? Or do we dissent by generating sufficient collective energy to make a public stand to challenge the utilitarian imperative of government policy? If so, on what grounds, and on whose behalf do we take such positions?

We only just got started last May, so we’ve decided to devote the morning session before the November AGM to continue these explorations of dissent and collusion, looking at the contexts within which we’re thinking, living and working.

LUNCH 1-2pm    AGM  2-4pm     All welcome, but only PCSR members can participate in decision-making.

* If you can’t afford £10, book directly with Bea:  beatrice@bmillar.com

PCSR response to SCoPEd

Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility (www.pcsr.org.uk) are opposed to the SCoPEd project.

1. Many BACP members have not received the draft SCoPEd consultation. On this basis alone responses will be unrepresentative.
2. The BACP treats its members with suspicion, believing that therapists are inherently a potential threat to clients and the public.
3. The competence frameworks were developed using Anthony Roth and Stephen Pilling’s methodology designed for manualised IAPT work. It is not appropriate or sufficient for the relational, dialogical encounter that typifies the practice of most therapists, and does not represent the core values of therapy.
4. Attempting to align training to competency frameworks undermines training by prioritising means over ends. Standardisation entails a shift from education to compliance.
5. The Expert Reference Group (ERG) is made up of 14 practitioners, only two of whom are explicitly humanistic. Eight are explicitly psychoanalytic. The Chair is a psychoanalysist and co-author with Roth and Pilling of their paper on psychodynamic therapies.
6. A generation of work evidencing the equal value of training, experience and work of counsellors as being equal to that of psychotherapists has been casually swept aside.
7. Embedding a hierarchy of therapists does not protect clients: an ‘Advanced’ counsellor may be much less experienced and skilful than a ‘Qualified’ counsellor who has not completed an expensive, time-consuming assessment. Both may be wiser, more experienced, better trained, have more insight and be more effective than a ‘Psychotherapist.’
8. Once more, the BACP mistake the understanding of the word ‘voluntary.’ ‘Advanced’ status – like the current ‘Accredited’ and ‘Senior Accredited’ statuses – are presented as voluntary assessments, but are essentially marketing tools. It is entirely reasonable for clients to seek the most skilful, qualified practitioners and the proposed scheme, like accreditation, misleads clients and applies unreasonable pressure onto therapists to pay professional bodies for unnecessary assessment.
9. The constant drive towards normalisation, standardisation and competition will not improve opportunities for employment for therapists. Our professional bodies continue to distort the fundamental core of our professions in an attempt to conform to political changes, while ignoring the professions’ deeply embedded structural problems around who may access therapy training and practice.
10. The desire to seek equal status with prestige professions by over-valuing and imitating the language, methods and culture of those professions denies, distorts and distracts from the fundamental value of the individual, therapeutic relationship without which all other ‘competencies’ are meaningless.PCSR values the individuality of clients, therapists and professional body staff, whether we agree with them or not. We believe this to be more important than ever at a time when tribalism and marginalising has become routine.
We respect and understand the desire of all involved in SCoPEd to ensure that clients are offered the highest quality therapy and to increase employment opportunities for members. We believe that this can only be sustainably achieved by constantly returning to the fundamental philosophical foundations of our professions, which must be rooted in trust in and respect for the members of each professional body; and in values that are not altered by political or economic vagaries, or the desire for acceptance, influence or dominance.

 

No therapists on National Advisory Panel for LGBT Health

Sent to BACP, UKCP, BPC, BABCP, BPS Pink Therapy, COSRT and NCS

21 March 2019

Dear

We welcome the announcement that Dr Michael Brady has been appointed as the first National Adviser for LGBT+ Health, and that an Advisory Panel has also been appointed to focus on key issues for people who are LGBT+ “such as conversion therapy.” 1

There are no therapists on the Advisory Panel, a particularly striking omission for a group with an explicit focus on conversion therapy.

The Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy in the UK is an important document that represents many years of therapist engagement with this subject. We recognise our professional bodies’ commitment to this vital issue.

We urge the BACP, BABCP, BPC, BPS, COSRT, NCS, Pink Therapy and UKCP to join us in urgently contacting Penny Mordaunt, Minister for Women and Equalities, to ask why therapists have not been invited to join the panel.

Sincerely

Bea Millar

Chair, Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility

www.pcsr.org.uk

 

 

Correspondence with Penny Mordaunt MP re Advisory Panel on LGBT Health

2nd letter from PCSR to Equalities Office

Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP, Minister for Women and Equalities,

Government Equalities Office,1 Sanctuary Buildings, 20 Great Smith Street SW1P 3BT

1st May 2019

Dear Minister,

LGBT Advisory Panel

Thank you for your letter of 18 April 2019 in response to our letter of 21 March.

We are not asking for reassurance. We are requesting urgent information on the reasoning behind excluding therapists from the Advisory Panel. We are advising the National Advisor, the Advisory Panel and the government, through your office, to immediately bring therapist knowledge and skill to the Advisory Panel.

Your colleague, Geraint Davies MP, has over two years proposed two bills to end conversion ‘therapy’. His concern for LGBT+ people and for the ethical practice of counselling and psychotherapy are not in question, yet both bills demonstrate a profound confusion of the issues around State regulation, protected titles, professional standards and even the practice of counselling and psychotherapy.

We do not believe that you would create an Advisory Panel to focus on issues specific to surgery or the automotive industry without involving a single surgeon or automotive industry executive. To create an Advisory Panel “which will focus on key issues such as conversion therapy,” that does not contain a single therapist strongly suggests that you do not hold counsellors, psychotherapists or indeed LGBT+ people in high esteem.

Please feel free to contact us for a full briefing on this complex and delicate matter.

Sincerely,

Bea Millar

 

Response from Government Equalities Office to our first letter (see below)

Our reference GEO-01519

18 April 2019

Dear Ms Miller,

Thank you for your letter of 21 March regarding the advisory panel and conversion therapy.  I am responding on behalf of the Minister for Women and Equalities.

We would like to thank you for your support on this issue, and the work you are already doing to tackle conversion therapy by signing the MoU.

In the LGBT Action Plan we committed to exploring both legislative and non-legislative issues to prevent conducting, offering or promoting conversion therapy activities.  In particular we are concerned with these issue (sic) in three areas: medical, faith and cultural, and commercial contexts.

We are committed to this work, and GEO officials are proactively working on it now.  Our current focus is on getting better evidence about where these practices are taking place, what they are, and how they can most effectively be stopped.

We are engaging with faith groups, healthcare stakeholder groups, and others to ensure that our proposals are proportionate, targeted and effective.  We have also commissioned qualitative research into the experiences of those who have undergone conversion therapy.  This research looks at the impact on individuals and how they think we should end its practice.

The evidence we have gathered to date suggests the practice of conversion therapy is not limited to the medical profession.  Additionally, whilst there has been much discussion of counselling and psychotherapy within the wider debate on this issue, we have limited evidence that this should be an area of particular focus in our response.  Our work suggests there are much larger challenges with regards to cultural and faith-based practices which deserve thorough consideration; 51% of respondents who had undergone conversion therapy said that it had been conducted by faith groups.

We are proud that our robust recruitment process for the LGBT Advisory Panel has led to a diverse Panel in terms of expertise and demography.  The members of the panel were appointed based on their extensive knowledge and understanding of the experiences of LGBT+ people, developed over multiple years. The Panel will also be able to draw on extensive expertise as the need arises, and so will be able to bring in an even greater diversity of voices during the course of their work.

I hope this information is reassuring.  Thank  you again for writing to us on this important issue.

Yours sincerely

pp    P.Mordaunt

Government Equalities Office

 

1st letter from PCSR to Hon Penny Mordaunt MP,  Minister for Women and Equalities

Government Equalities Office, 16-20 Great Smith Street,  SW1P 3BT

21 March 2019

Dear Minister

We welcome the appointment of a National Adviser for LGBT Health in the NHS, and the creation of an Advisory Panel that will “focus on key issues such as conversion therapy…” 1

Conversion therapy has been a particular concern for counsellors and psychotherapists for many years. The ‘Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy in the UK’ emerged from 10 years of debate informed by LGBT+ people and groups, engaging 11 therapy bodies, the NHS, the Royal College of GP’s, The Association of LGBT Doctors and Dentists, and supported by Stonewall. 2

We are therefore astonished and alarmed that there are no therapists on the Advisory Panel, a particularly striking omission for a group with an explicit focus on conversion therapy.

We request urgent information on the reasoning behind excluding therapists from the Advisory Panel. 

We strongly urge the National Advisor, the Advisory Panel and the government to immediately bring therapist knowledge and skill to the Panel. 

The exclusion of therapists from a group that has been created to ‘focus on key issues such as conversion therapy’ leaves the Advisory Panel open to accusations of ignorance of the significance of therapy for LGBT Health, and of gullibility. The setting up of Advisory Panels is an established way for powerful groups to enact a pretence of interest and concern.

Sincerely,

Bea Millar,

Chair, Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility       www.pcsr.org.uk

 

 

 

 

PCSR responses to SCoPEd and ideas about state regulation.

PCSR podcasts about SCoPEd and State Regulation

Podcast 1      Clare Slaney interviews Erin Stevens about Erin’s journey to putting a resolution to BACP AGM to scrap SCoPEd

 

PCSR statement in response to SCoPEd

PCSR·SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2019
Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility are opposed to the SCoPEd project.
1. Many BACP members have not received the draft SCoPEd consultation. On this basis alone responses will be unrepresentative.
2. The BACP treats its members with suspicion, believing that therapists are inherently a potential threat to clients and the public.
3. The competence frameworks were developed using Anthony Roth and Stephen Pilling’s methodology designed for manualised IAPT work. It is not appropriate or sufficient for the relational, dialogical encounter that typifies the practice of most therapists, and does not represent the core values of therapy.
4. Attempting to align training to competency frameworks undermines training by prioritising means over ends. Standardisation entails a shift from education to compliance.
5. The Expert Reference Group (ERG) is made up of 14 practitioners, only two of whom are explicitly humanistic. Eight are explicitly psychoanalytic. The Chair is a psychoanalysist and co-author with Roth and Pilling of their paper on psychodynamic therapies.
6. A generation of work evidencing the equal value of training, experience and work of counsellors as being equal to that of psychotherapists has been casually swept aside.
7. Embedding a hierarchy of therapists does not protect clients: an ‘Advanced’ counsellor may be much less experienced and skilful than a ‘Qualified’ counsellor who has not completed an expensive, time-consuming assessment. Both may be wiser, more experienced, better trained, have more insight and be more effective than a ‘Psychotherapist.’
8. Once more, the BACP mistake the understanding of the word ‘voluntary.’ ‘Advanced’ status – like the current ‘Accredited’ and ‘Senior Accredited’ statuses – are presented as voluntary assessments, but are essentially marketing tools. It is entirely reasonable for clients to seek the most skilful, qualified practitioners and the proposed scheme, like accreditation, misleads clients and applies unreasonable pressure onto therapists to pay professional bodies for unnecessary assessment.
9. The constant drive towards normalisation, standardisation and competition will not improve opportunities for employment for therapists. Our professional bodies continue to distort the fundamental core of our professions in an attempt to conform to political changes, while ignoring the professions’ deeply embedded structural problems around who may access therapy training and practice.
10. The desire to seek equal status with prestige professions by over-valuing and imitating the language, methods and culture of those professions denies, distorts and distracts from the fundamental value of the individual, therapeutic relationship without which all other ‘competencies’ are meaningless.

PCSR values the individuality of clients, therapists and professional body staff, whether we agree with them or not. We believe this to be more important than ever at a time when tribalism and marginalising has become routine.
We respect and understand the desire of all involved in SCoPEd to ensure that clients are offered the highest quality therapy and to increase employment opportunities for members. We believe that this can only be sustainably achieved by constantly returning to the fundamental philosophical foundations of our professions, which must be rooted in trust in and respect for the members of each professional body; and in values that are not altered by political or economic vagaries, or the desire for acceptance, influence or dominance.

Examining Whiteness: White identity and racism. 16th March 2019 Fully Booked

FULLY BOOKED

Examining Whiteness: White identity and racism
Saturday 16th March 2019 11am – 2pm

Marchmont Community Centre, 62 Marchmont Street, Kings Cross, London WC1N 1AB

FREE – donations on the day much appreciated.
Please email beatrice@bmillar.com to book your place.
This group is open to people from all backgrounds and heritages
‘Whiteness, as a set of normative cultural practices, is visible most clearly to those it definitely excludes and those to whom it does violence. Those who are housed securely within its borders usually do not examine it.’ (Ruth Frankenberg,1993)

This group is open to anyone wanting to address the injustices and inequalities of racism through personal and collective work on White identity, power, privilege and entitlement.
For too long Black, African and Asian therapists and trainees have been experiencing racism and exclusion within the therapy profession. Change in the culture of therapy and training is slow and there are still trainees who are discriminated against: unheard, invisible, hurt, excluded. There has recently been an issue of Therapy Today dedicated to Black Matters which is very welcome, and we feel a need to keep up the work to continue to confront racism in the profession and in the world.

As part of addressing this oppression within the therapy professions, Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility (www.pcsr.org.uk) organised, last year, a series of groups for therapists who identify as White to explore Whiteness and White aspects of themselves within the context of their own identity and skin. Being part of group conversations about racism, organised by BAATN (Black, African and Asian Therapy Network) we have seen how much work is being done by people of colour. The Examining Whiteness groups were initially conceived by White therapists attempting to own responsibility, expand their awareness, and strengthen their potential to become allies.

This year, 2019, due to popular demand, we are holding a series of groups open to anyone to examine White identity and racism, particularly within the therapy field
The groups are organised and facilitated by therapists Bea Millar and Suzanne Keys from PCSR (Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility)

Useful resources to check out online:
‘Witnessing the wound’ 20 min video by Eugene Ellis, BAATN. https://vimeo.com/262194819
‘How I learned to stop worrying and love discussing Race’ (10 min TED talk) https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=MbdxeFcQtaU

Article by Jennifer Loubriel https://thebodyisnotanapology.com/magazine/4-ways-white-people-can-process-their-emotions-without-bringing-the-white-tears/
Tim Wise, US anti-racism activist, Helm’s White racial identity development model and Peggy McIntosh on White privilege.

Recent relevant books:
White Privilege Unmasked: how to be part of the solution Judy Ryde March 2019
White Fragility: why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism Robin DiAngelo 2018
Natives: race and class in the ruins of empire Akala 2018
Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race Reni Eddo Lodge 2017

Examining Whiteness: White identity and Racism Sat 15th Dec 2018

Examining Whiteness: White identity and Racism

   Saturday 15th December 2018     11am – 2pm

Marchmont Community Centre, 62 Marchmont Street, London WC1 1AB

http://www.kcbna.org.uk/contact/

FREE    – donations on the day much appreciated.

Please email  beatrice@bmillar.com to book your place.

‘Whiteness, as a set of normative cultural practices, is visible most clearly to those it definitely excludes and those to whom it does violence. Those who are housed securely within its borders usually do not examine it.’ (Ruth Frankenberg,1993)

For too long Black, African and Asian therapists and trainees have been experiencing racism and exclusion within the therapy profession. Change in the culture of therapy and training is slow and there are still trainees who are discriminated against: unheard, invisible, hurt, excluded. There has recently been an issue of Therapy Today dedicated to Black Matters which is very welcome, and we feel a need to keep up the work to continue to confront racism in the profession and in the world.

 

As part of addressing this oppression within the therapy professions, Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility (www.pcsr.org.uk) have organised a series of meetings for therapists who identify as White to explore Whiteness and White aspects of themselves within the context of their own identity and skin. Being part of group conversations about racism, organised by BAATN (Black, African and Asian Therapists’ Network) we have seen how much work is being done by people of colour. The Examining Whiteness meetings were initially conceived by White therapists attempting to own responsibility, expand their awareness, and strengthen their potential to become allies.

The meetings are a space to explore and process what it means to be White, and working as a White therapist in a racist society, or to be read or misread as a person of mixed heritage and have identities ascribed. We invite you to come and share your experiences and deepen your understanding of the many complex aspects of White identity in a supportive environment.

These Whiteness meetings offer an opportunity to encourage and stimulate personal and collective work on White identity, power, privilege and entitlement and to address the injustices and inequalities of racism.

Useful resources to check out online:

‘Witnessing the wound’ (20 min video)          https://vimeo.com/262194819

‘How I learned to stop worrying and love discussing Race’  (10 min TED talk)         https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=MbdxeFcQtaU

Tim Wise, US anti-racism activist, Helm’s White racial identity development model and Peggy McIntosh on White privilege.

Recent relevant books:

Being White in the helping professions                                 Judy Ryde            2009

Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race     Reni Eddo Lodge      2017

Natives: race and class in the ruins of empire                     Akala       2018

White Fragility: why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism  Robin DiAngelo 2018