Tag Archives: newsletters

BACP: Masterminding the Death of Trust

What is going on at the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP)? As many of its members are now all too aware, the organisation has recently revealed that it is considering introducing ‘mystery shoppers’ and ‘practice inspections’ into its audit processes for practitioners on the BACP Register.

In an email on Monday 9th January, BACP Chair Andrew Reeves invited BACP members to respond to a survey on changes to the organisation’s register audit processes and CPD requirements. ‘We feel that it is time to make changes to strengthen our commitment to both safeguarding the public and protecting the reputation of the profession’, he writes.

The survey questions say that BACP are considering the use of mystery shoppers and practice inspections to assess members’ policies and procedures, particularly around confidentiality. It also proposed asking supervisors to complete forms confirming ‘frequency and duration’ of their supervisees attendance at supervision and that they have ‘gone through the ethical framework’ with them. If that weren’t enough, supervisors will be sent forms asking if they have any concerns about their supervisees, while registrants could face a ‘revalidation’ process involving some kind of ‘assessment of outcomes of practice’.

“a fundamental shift in the ethical relationship between therapists and their organisations, to a values incongruent one of surveillance and control”

Within hours of the survey being sent out, BACP members were sharing with the Alliance and across social media their deep concerns at such a huge change in policy and procedure; crucially that the proposals represented a fundamental shift in the ethical relationship between therapists and their organisations, from a supportive and challenging one to a values incongruent relationship of surveillance and control.

We wonder whether anyone at BACP has any awareness of the many devastating critiques of this kind approach, not to mention the personal experiences of practitioners from other professions who already work in this kind of culture and can attest to the toxic influence it has upon both their practices – which become increasingly defensive and distorted by the threat of surveillance – and themselves as persons, who become increasingly anxious and burnt out.

Surely of all professions, we would expect those in the field of counselling and psychotherapy to be attuned to these issues, to understand that relationships of trust – such as therapy – are not fostered in a context of suspicion or excessive external controls, and that these proposals would be harmful to both practitioners and clients.

How, then, does BACP imagine such procedures will ‘safeguard the public and protect the reputation of the profession’, as they put it? What is driving its desire to police the field in this way, completely ignoring the possibility that an uncritical over-estimation of its ‘public protection’ function might have a range of unintended negative consequences?

BACP, it would seem, are increasingly keen not to differentiate psychotherapy and counselling from other activities, to celebrate and articulate its uniqueness, nor to embrace and encourage the diversity of thought and practice within its own ranks, but instead to homogenise and take greater control of the field in an attempt to align it with ‘other healthcare professions’, as if it were undisputed that therapy is a ‘healthcare profession’ and should therefore mimic the cultures and practices of its claimed professional neighbours. This drive can also be seen in BACP’s efforts to standardise practice via ‘competency frameworks’ but the survey proposals expose its agenda even more starkly.

What’s the prize here? Winning the battle for influence in the corridors of power? Jobs for members in State agencies and institutions?

As they are keen to point out on social media, BACP are ‘listening’. But to whom and to what ends? What has happened to the largest therapy organisation in the UK that it would even consider proposals that would be the death knell for trust as a core principle in the practice of therapy?


Check out our first blog on the issue here, with one BACP registered member’s responses to the survey. And there’s an interesting analysis of the issue here noting BACP’s ‘ethical blind spot when it comes to practising institutionally what it preaches for its members individually’.

Alliance Newsletter – June 2015

Dear colleagues,

We have decided to circulate a brief newsletter following-up on the issues raised in our recent Open Letter to the Guardian, which has been shared over 6500 times, along with other related developments in the psy field.

• Psychological therapy located in Jobcentres

Following our Guardian letter, a group of therapist, psychologist, disability and social security benefits campaigners met in May to discuss working together to protest at the prospect of coercive therapy and mental health treatment being located in Jobcentres.

The meeting supported the Mental Health Resistance Network’s open letter on the issue, as well as the protest at Streatham Jobcentre Plus on Friday 26th June. Please take a look at the Open Letter and circulate it among interested colleagues. Join us on the 26th if you can. Also see the MHRN Facebook page for newsreel coverage of campaigning around DWP policies and mental health.

There has been considerable media and professional response to the growing thrust by the Government to link social security benefits, mental health and IAPT style psychological therapies within the toxic context of Jobcentres, WCA’s and benefits sanctions. See, for example, this excellent piece by Lynne Friedli and Robert Stearn. Professional bodies are beginning to publicly address the ethical issues raised by “get to work” therapy – e.g. BACP, BPS.

The Alliance is building a resource and news update section on its website on this issue, and will circulate links when it is available. Meanwhile, please contact us with any developments, ideas and relevant resources from your networks: info@allianceforcandp.org

March Against Austerity

The Alliance is joining the People’s Assembly march against austerity in London this Saturday – 20th June – under its new banner. Join us at 12 noon outside Jo Malone, 24 Royal Exchange Building, at Bank.

Big Issue(s) Conference organised by Psychotherapy and Counselling for Social Responsibility – 26th September

This PCSR conference is intended as an opportunity for practitioners to express their concerns about the current direction of counselling and psychotherapy, and discuss plans for action. Take a look at the programme for the conference and its booking form here.

Best wishes,

The Alliance