‘Psychoanalytic coup’ – Andrew Samuels on the SCoPEd Competence Framework

Sent to the Chairs and CEOs of BACP, UKCP and BPC

January 24th 2019

From Professor Andrew Samuels

You have every right to ignore this.

I was in the room as chair of UKCP when the HPC Professional Liaison group in 2010 were told by Prof Peter Fonagy that counselling was inferior to psychotherapy. BACP (Sally Aldridge) were apoplectic. But now, when I look at the lists of competences, I feel sure that many counsellors meet those ascribed to psychotherapy. I’ve trained some of them.

(Incidentally, didn’t the abject failure of the Skills for Health competency based project stick in anyone’s memories?)

Moreover, the interests of Jungian analysis, body psychotherapy, arts psychotherapies and transpersonal psychotherapy have been downplayed. I am not sure how a humanistic and integrative psychotherapist might react, to be honest. Not well, I surmise.

What has happened is that psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic psychotherapy have pulled off a major coup. Their values and approaches have triumphed. I am sure that this will be widely recognised by anyone who reads the documents. It reflects the dynamism and skill of their top people, in my view, so hats off to them in a way!

I have returned the survey to BPC and UKCP. In the free section, I have expressed astonishment that the discredited work done by Roth and Pilling in different contexts has been utilised in this one. Those academics are gung-ho for NICE, IAPT and statutory regulation. They are not friends of the work that we do.

The whole thing strikes me as an example of fiddling while Rome burns. Actually, it is worse than that. We’ve spent decades making sure that, for example, job adverts ask for BACP or UKCP or BPC membership where once the BPS held sway. I’ve been proud to be a part of that. We even managed to reduce the stress on modality in most adverts, except those where the consultant doctors were psychoanalysts. We have begun to get the Professional Standards Authority on the map.

Now three utterly bizarre neologisms are being put forward. And this is going to make getting jobs easier? Or help applicants? ‘Qualified counsellor’, ‘advanced qualified counsellor’, ‘psychotherapist’.

Even if the old terms are restored once the survey has run its course, the discrepant crunch between the two indicative languages will be so confusing.

And what is the point of saying that these terms are ‘loosely described’? They are not loosely described at all; they are clearly differentiated (albeit on shaky grounds) and formed into a tendentious hierarchy.

Sorry for the passionate way in which I write. I am hoping that there will be massive opposition to these proposals but am realistic: the supine memberships mostly won’t bother about it at all – a few will support, a few will oppose, and we shall lumber on, promoting the demise of depth, relational work – what I still call (semi-seriously) ‘real psychotherapy’.

Finally, I will comment on page 72 of the main document where the membership of your Expert Reference Group is given. There are 12 in total, 7 of which are psychoanalytic, 2 integrative (unspecified combination), 1 hypno-psychotherapy, 1 pluralistic (unspecified combination) and 1 humanistic-integrative. Add in the chair and information analyst and I believe it comes to 8 psychoanalytic and 6 others (of which only two are explicitly humanistic in orientation).

How is this a balanced group of experts??








7 thoughts on “‘Psychoanalytic coup’ – Andrew Samuels on the SCoPEd Competence Framework”

  1. Thank you for writing this Andrew. Why apologise for your passion? I agree wholeheartedly with everything you say and could add a few knobs on to it as well. Only this morning I posted on Facebook ‘I think about the new BACP/UKCP SCoPEd work and realise that almost everything I have stood for in my working life is being dismantled.’ Sadly, I too, am not hopeful that members of BACP will rise up, even though the new graduates will have paid tens of thousands of pounds to get their qualifications rubbed in the shit.

  2. Dear Andrew,

    Thank you for this,

    I wholeheartedly agree with your concerns and pointed this out when I completed the BACP survey on Scoped recently. It is the very thing that not long ago the BACP actually fought against which was a movement back around 2007 to differentiate between psychotherapeutic counselling and psychotherapy. Thank you for taking the trouble to write this and point it out.

    Kind regards, Ian Michie


  3. Thank you – having spent a lot of money training, qualifying and continuing to pay-out in order to work safely I now feel I will be undervalued as not as good as other professionals

  4. I very much hope this ill-disguised power grab will not be ignored by the BACP membership. I wholly concur with the sentiment of your blog and feel deeply disappointed in the professional organisation that I have suppprted financially for the last 15 years. How can my BACP accredited training at level 7, 15 years of practice, supervision and CPD count for less than that of a newly qualified UKCP registrant???

    Another thing that hasn’t been mentioned in this debate is the increasing workloads of third sector counselling organisations who are struggling to meet growing waiting lists and increasing severity of client presentations in the face of inadequate and often inappropriate provision of therapy in the NHS. The majority of counsellors working in the third sector do so voluntarily while psychotherapists and clinical psychologists command high salaries in the NHS (NHS counsellors normally being restricted to grade 6). While the largely psychoanalytic SCOPED panel count angels on pin heads, we appear to have forgotten where our priorities lie and as usual remuneration has nothing to do with the real value of work but is simply a way of maintaining power, privilege and inequality.

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