Welcome to Bulletin 16
These Bulletins are a quick and effective way for the Chair and Chief Executive to report on important current items.
In this, the final Bulletin before he hands over to the new Chair of UKCP, Andrew is the only author. But, saving a more reflective farewell for our Members' Forum and Chairs' Day on Saturday 17 March, here he continues to give information on key current issues.
To respond to the issues raised in this Bulletin, please email .
I will save a more 'philosophical' farewell contribution until the Members Open Forum on 17 March. In this sixteenth and final Bulletin of my 28 months as Chair, I am going to follow a 'business as usual' line and set out the issues with which we are preoccupied at the moment.
A selection of appeals
- Please come to our Members Open Forum all day on Saturday, 17 March. Not only will you hear the result of the election, but you get the chance to contribute actively to formulation of policy and creation of our ethos. We are once again broadcasting this event online so there is no excuse for missing it. The last one was said by old UKCP hands to have been inspirational at times. For information please visit the Members Open Forum page on our website.
- If you would like to put yourself forward to do a 3-4 minute talk on any topic during the Members Forum (we are calling these slots 'vox pops'), read the announcement for the day and then email us
- Please visit the website and read UKCP's Climate Change Policy which is now out for consultation. This is a major achievement of our Diversity, Equalities and Social Responsibility Forum. Our office is now run on eco-friendly lines - but the policy goes far wider and makes suggestions about course content on ecopsychology for training organisations. For more information, please visit the Climate Change Consultation page of our website.
- PLEASE VOTE! Yes, elections are often messy. Yes, the results can get unfairly interpreted to suit people's politics. Yes, individuals have to seek the limelight. And people do get hurt. But this whole development of ourselves as a thriving member organisation depends on you voting. Please visit our election webpage for information about the candidates and join the discussion via our online forum. We achieved a miraculous 48% turn-out last time. Let's do as well this time. Voting opens on 1 March so - PLEASE VOTE!
- And, to help you in your choice, come to the election meeting, either in person or online, to hear the candidates field YOUR questions. For more information about this event, please visit our election discussion webpage.
Reflections on the destruction of psychotherapy and psychotherapeutic counselling
UKCP has been involved in campaigning against plans to close or 'redistribute' several psychotherapy services in the NHS (for example, Derby, Forest House, St Thomas's, Maudsley, Barts, Wirral). If this goes on, then, thanks to the unholy alliance of Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT),the NICE guidelines and the cuts (and in contradiction of stated Government policy), psychotherapy will be destroyed in the NHS.
By 'psychotherapy', I mean much more than psychodynamic and psychoanalytic psychotherapy, which attracts the headlines. Group psychotherapy, cognitive analytical psychotherapy, and humanistic and integrative psychotherapy - and counselling - are all under attack. And, if the plans for IAPT for children come to fruition, and only CBT and parental training get paid for, family therapy will be under the cosh as well (as will Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services).
We have got to get a more coherent national policy and campaign of action in place and we need to do this with BACP and BPC. As one of my last acts, I have suggested to all the players that a campaigning group be set up and that it commissions urgently a scoping of the damage that is being done. After that, maybe after another letter writing to MPs campaign; we need to address ministers at the Department of Health. The initial response to this suggestion has been amazing - my start-off letter has apparently gone viral.
In order to build alliances with other organisations, we have had to mute the language in which we express our critique of the NICE guidelines. Nevertheless, everyone relevant knows that UKCP considers these guidelines to be political and resource-grabbing in nature and very little to do with 'science'. What we want is for NICE to widen the range of research methodologies that it will accept as viable. This alone will open the door to consideration of the thousands of research papers demonstrating the efficacy of psychotherapy and counselling.
I think that, if change at NICE comes off, it will be very largely due to UKCP.
Central complaints process
We are already rolling out our Central Complaints Process (CCP) organisation by organisation. OMs representing a third of our members have applied to come under CCP. We will be tweaking the process itself to make it more psychotherapy friendly as it is, in its present form, too much like HPC-lite.
I really hope everyone realises by now that reform of UKCP's complaints set-up is needed, both in and of itself, and in preparation for accreditation of our register by the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence (CHRE, soon to be the Professional Standards Authority (PSA)). There has been too much crony-ism and amateurism in the conduct of complaints for far too long.
I promise that what emerges will preserve the best of the traditional methods of hearing a complaint by psychotherapy organisations, especially the key role of mediation and conciliation (also known as Alternative Disputes Resolution (ADR)).
I am pleased that we will now have registers of child psychotherapists, family psychotherapists, and supervisors. We can't rest on our laurels. If the government's policy of assured voluntary regulation (which UKCP supports) is going to work, then we have to keep on innovating.
One thing I want to flag up is the need to avoid professional protectionism here. If we are to have grandparenting, then it has to conform to current best practice. This means that what gets assessed is often 'equivalence' rather than something being identical. Let's commit to a just, friendly and transparent approach to opening our doors. Moreover, as David Pink has kept reminded us, we need to grow the organisation.
Diversity, equalities and social responsibility
The Black Men on the Couch events have been great. The support groups for members from minority backgrounds are up and running. The module on diversity for training organisations is nearly written. We have a policy on sexual diversity that is streets ahead of our competitor organisations. Not bad. But this is actually a tiny, tiny, tiny beginning on improving access to psychotherapy which is the Board's Number One strategic aim.
To read UKCP's recent statements on 'reparative therapy' (seeking to change 'sexual orientation') and to listen to a BBC radio discussion, please visit the reparative therapy section on our website.
Organisational members (OMs) and direct members (DMs)
We've become aware of considerable anxiety amongst our organisational members about the provision for direct members that was introduced into the new constitution back in 2009 (before either David or I came on the scene).
Under this provision, it is possible for an individual member to leave their UKCP organisation and register directly with UKCP as a direct member via their college. This provision was introduced as part of an expansion of what you could call 'members' rights'. It was felt wrong to enable organisations to keep their members in perpetual membership in order to retain UKCP registration. And there was some concern for members who were irremediably at odds with their organisation on non-clinical grounds. Shouldn't they be set free, so to speak?
The problem is that direct membership raises a spectre of people leaving their organisation, and that would undermine or even damage the organisational members. This is a realistic fear if (a) lots of people seem inclined to become direct members and (b) UKCP were seen to be encouraging direct membership.
I want to stress that, though we have informed you about the direct membership route in membership renewal documents, UKCP certainly does not recommend it. Psychotherapists and psychotherapeutic counsellors need to belong to home-base or even tribal organisations. And, in time, we will have to introduce some sort of financial system to help colleges manage their direct members. So, if saving money is the goal in becoming a direct member, you might not achieve it! And, if you do decide to follow the direct member route, you will have to find a way to get re-accredited every five years (which might cost quite a lot) and be sure to keep your CPD levels high. You will also be subject to random audit.
In fact, there have only been a tiny number of applications to become a direct member. The main exceptions are (a) when one of our organisations went bankrupt and their members need immediate accommodation; and (b) in one of our colleges there is only one organisation and so everyone is registered as a direct member. Otherwise, a sort of collective wisdom has prevailed and people are not taking what could be a very damaging step.
The corollary is that it behove organisations to give members value for money!
Much to be done. A lot of mistakes made. But look at some of what has been achieved, in no particular order: an agreed set of radical strategic objectives; regular open forums with webconferencing; expansion of the diversity remit to include climate change and Black Men on the Couch; major regulatory innovations (see above on new registers); successful computerisation (now) of membership processes; very robust financial health; emergence of UKCP as the leading organisation on a range of issues: NICE, psychotherapy in the NHS, protection of the rights of sexual minorities; taking a leading role in the co-creation of assured voluntary regulation under the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence/ professional Standards Authority. (Not an exhaustive list.)
And we have not split apart. I think the most interesting achievement of my time in office was something that didn't actually happen! I'm referring to UKCP's working through of the issues involved in HPC regulation, and the Board's policy, based on consensus, that we would set up a system of alternative professional accountability for the minority who would refuse to register with HPC. As I say, we didn't need to do it. But how proud it made me feel that UKCP emerged as an organisation where the majority found a way - with integrity and transparency - to honour the wishes of a minority.
That's all for my final Bulletin. It is written with heartfelt thanks to colleagues in the office, the leads', and the membership, and especially to my friend David. And with apologies to those I have hurt or offended.
I hope you will all join us, either in person or virtually, on 17 March.