History of the Alliance

The Alliance for Counselling & Psychotherapy is an organisation of counsellors, psychotherapists, psychoanalysts and psychologists from a range of theoretical approaches. It formed in 2008 to oppose the planned State regulation of counselling and psychotherapy via the Health Professions Council (HPC – now the Health & Care Professions Council, HCPC).

The campaign was launched with the Alliance statement on regulation and included petitions signed by thousands of practitioners, blogs, regional gatherings, national conferences, support for a judicial review of HPC’s conduct, a book length submission to HPC’s 2009 consultation, and public debate in the professional literature and national media.

See also:

The Maresfield Report on the Regulation of Psychotherapy in the UK (2009)

The Case Against Psychotherapy Registration: A Conservation Issue for the Human Potential Movement (1995)

Regulating the Psychological Therapies: From Taxonomy to Taxidermy (2007)

Regulation in Action: The HPC Fitness to Practise Hearing of Dr Malcolm Cross – Analysis, History, and Comment (2011)

Thousands of practitioners felt that – for the sake of both their clients and the profession – they would be unable to comply with such an inappropriate regulatory regime, so signed the petition and otherwise supported the Alliance-led campaign. Many chose to adopt ‘principled non-compliance’, a stance developed within the Alliance that meant a public commitment not to join the proposed register and instead seek out ‘alternative professional accountability’.

Then, in 2011, amidst mounting opposition from the field and eventually from major professional bodies, the plans were dropped by the incoming Coalition Government to be replaced by a new proposal for a system of accredited registers administered by the Professional Standards Authority (formerly CHRE), to which the Alliance extended a cautious welcome.

Beyond Regulation

The regulation debate was always part of a bigger picture for the field and for the Alliance, which had been concerned for some time about the Government’s Improving Access to the Psychological Therapies (IAPT) project, the Skills for Health ‘competencies’ for psychological therapies, and the role of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines, which are used in NHS commissioning of psychological therapies, notably IAPT, but whose influence goes far beyond the UK health service.

NICE guidelines

In late 2011 the Alliance launched a new campaign and petition calling for the reform of NICE guidelines and an end to the unwarranted bias they display towards Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). The petition was signed by over 6000 practitioners, an unprecedented response in our professions, and helped pressure NICE to promise to review how it assesses the effectiveness of psychological therapies.

‘Back-to-work’ therapy

Since then the Alliance has contributed to a number of campaigns and protests against Government austerity measures and plans to site IAPT-style mental health hubs in Jobcentres, including the coordination of a letter to the Guardian signed by hundreds of therapists. See the rest of this blog for more on these activities.

The future

The Alliance continues to campaign on contemporary professional and political issues, and is committed to developing and supporting initiatives that offer radical alternatives and positive programmes – in practice, theory and research – for the future of our field.



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