Professional Standards Authority formally announces UKCP Accreditation.

The PSA have sent me the following press release:

Independent quality mark for The UK Council for Psychotherapy

The UK Council for Psychotherapy’s (UKCP) voluntary register has been accredited by the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care an independent statutory body, accountable to Parliament.

Psychotherapists on UKCP’s register will be able to display the Accredited Voluntary Register quality mark, a sign that they belong to a register which meets the Professional Standards Authority’s robust standards.

David Pink, UKCP Chief Executive, said:

“The quality mark will give extra peace of mind for anyone looking for a psychotherapist, letting them know that anyone who holds the mark is committed to high standards. UKCP is pleased to offer the quality mark to psychotherapists that meet the far reaching standards of our register, as approved by the Professional Standards Authority.”

Harry Cayton, Chief Executive of the Professional Standards Authority, said:

“We are very pleased to accredit UKCP’s register of psychotherapists. Bringing psychotherapists into a broad framework of assurance is good for patients, service users and the public and is the best way to promote quality. The scheme offers enhanced protection to anyone looking for health and social care services, and gives psychotherapists the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to good practice.”

Accreditation does not imply that the Authority has assessed the merits of individuals on the register. This remains the responsibility of UKCP. It does not mean that the Authority has endorsed a particular therapy, people will need to consider the information provided and decide if it is suitable for them. Accreditation means that UKCP’s register meets the Professional Standards Authority’s high standards in governance, standard-setting, education and training, management, complaints and information.

As the scheme develops, accredited registers will encompass a growing range of occupations and organisations, and the Professional Standards Authority may accredit more than one register in any particular occupation. Further information on the accredited voluntary register scheme is available atwww.professionalstandards.org.uk/voluntary-registers

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What’s in a Word? Patients, Clients, Service Users…

Part of my job is to mentor student nurses. This week I had a look at the recently-revised competency portfolio that the students have to bring on placement. This is a hefty document about the size of the Yellow Pages, which lists all the skills students have to learn with me, and which I need to sign off to say they’ve learned. It’s very detailed and long, with a dizzying array of competencies in it. I’d challenge anyone who thinks a nursing degree is an easy option to read through it and then say so. However, there was one thing that struck me about the competencies.

They didn’t make a single use of the word “patient”.

Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t that the competencies weren’t aware that nurses work with people, but they were constantly referred to as “service users” and “clients”. The word “patient” was conspicuous by its absence. Apparently nurses don’t have patients.

There seems to be a view out there in mental health that “service user” and “client” are good and “patient” is bad. I don’t buy it. I’m not saying there aren’t people who don’t like being called patients, but I’ve also come across people with mental health problems who loathe being called service users or clients. Besides, anyone who’s ever been to the dentist is technically a patient.

The wording on the student competencies is particularly ironic because I work in Wales. Recently the Welsh Assembly Goverment passed the Mental Health Measure, a very progressive piece of legislation that enshrines certain rights for people receiving a mental health service into Welsh law. It gives, for example, the right to have a care and treatment plan that’s formed collaboratively between patients and staff, and a right for people who’ve been in secondary care to self-refer back to services. It’s a very good piece of law aimed at putting the person using the service at its centre. Even so, the term used in Mental Health Measure documentation is “relevant patient” not client or service user.

I suspect there isn’t a “right” or “wrong” answer when it comes to whether one should use patient, client or service user. It all depends not only on what those words mean, but also what people take them to mean. For example, when we talk about “health” some people would take that to mean a fairly narrow, medical model of diagnosis and treatment. However, if you go by the World Health Organisation’s definition of health

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

….then that’s a much broader concept.

It’s also worth pointing out that the meanings of words can be changed, often due to a conscious effort by those to whom they apply. A good example of this comes from the recent #mentalpatient furore that erupted on Twitter and into the mainstream news. The Asda website was discovered to have a “mental patient” fancy dress costume (which Asda has since removed and apologised for) on its online store.

 

The response of various Twitter users was to post pictures of themselves in their own “mental patient costumes.”

As well as patient, client and service user, the term “expert by lived experience” has also been bandied about in mental health debates. I recently asked Twitter users what they thought of this particular wording, and got a high number of responses which I’ve Storified here. The answers varied wildly. Some loved it, some hated it, and quite a few people gave nuanced answers somewhere in between.

I’m not sure that I have an opinion as to which is the “right” wording to use (and as I’ve said, I’m convinced there even is a right answer). I’d hope that whatever wording is used, people are treated with dignity, respect and in a collaborative way that upholds their rights and wishes.

 

 

 

UKCP finally achieves PSA accreditation

It seems to be a big week for news involving the UK Council for Psychotherapy. Having recently struck off a therapist for the first time since 2009, the UKCP have, after a long process, finally achieved accreditation by the Professional Standards Authority.

The decision letter is up online at the PSA website. The UKCP is now one of five organisations offering psychological therapies (the others are the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, Play Therapy UK, the National Counselling Society and the National Hypnotherapy Society) to have so far achieved “assured voluntary regististration” status with the PSA.

The decision letter makes for an interesting read. This may not be an entirely scientific measure but comparing it to the outcome letters for other AVR bodies, something that stands out is that the UKCP’s is the longest. It’s 19 pages long, compared to 11 pages for Play Therapy UK, 13 pages for the National Counselling Society and National Hypnotherapy Society and 10 pages compared to the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. This is speculation on my part, but that leaves me wondering about the amount of reform that was needed compared to other bodies. Certainly the letter strikes me as pretty packed with recommendations.

One thing that the letter does confirm is that – finally – the new Complaints and Conduct Process covers 100% of the UKCP membership.

The section on the Call for Information – where the PSA had asked the public to write in with any feedback about the application – is particularly interesting. Various people (me included, but I was by no means the only one) leapt at the chance to send the PSA some of the horrific stories that have been discussed on this website and elsewhere. This seems to be alluded to by the PSA.

The Panel considered a summary of the main themes identified in the Call for Information, and the UKCP’s response to these submissions. It observed that many were related to UKCP’s previous complaints processes, involving the handling of complaints by itself and its OMs. It was felt that the former complaints system was characterised by lengthy times from initial complaint to completion, poor communication from the UKCP and OMs and a lack of support for complainants. There were suggestions of conflicts of interest and procedural failures that appeared not to consider public protection.

Regular readers of this blog will have a good idea of what’s being referred to here.

The Panel reviewed the summary and noted that the new Complaints and Conduct Process has been developed to address such concerns. As quality assurance for the new procedure the Panel instructed UKCP to allow the AVR team to review a sample of CCP outcomes in six months’ time to ensure that it is achieving its objectives, as discussed in Standard 11.

So, they’re getting the accreditation, but the CCP is going to be audited in 6 months.

Comparing the UKCP letter to the Call for Information in the letters for other organisations, what stands out is that in most of the other letters it’s a much briefer section. It reads like the only other organisation to have had a similar public response is the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (scathingly referred to as “OfQuack” by its critics). Concerns with the CNHC seem to have been mostly around how they deal with complaints alleging false advertising. As in, “Sticking this candle in your ear will help your diabetes.”

It looks like the PSA process has resulted in considerable reform at the UKCP. I hope that our efforts have provided some impetus to that process. It certainly looks like the PSA has taken notice when giving instructions to the UKCP.

Although it’s me who’s written these blog posts, I think I should state that I’ve only been able to do so because of a variety of people who have gathered information and passed it to me. Some of them have shown considerable courage in doing so. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them, even though I can’t name them.

Sadly, these changes come too late for people who were not properly listened to or supported when they tried to speak out about a rogue’s gallery of unethical therapists – Derek Gale, John Smalley, Geoffrey Pick, Stuart Macfarlane – and that’s just the names in the public domain.

I don’t doubt there are likely to be other rogues out there among the UKCP membership. However, they should no longer be able to rely on “cronyism and amateurism” (to quote the former UKCP chair) to protect them from accountability. Those rogues may now have to shape up or ship out of the UKCP.

 

UKCP strikes off first psychotherapist in four years

In the past the UK Council for Psychotherapy has had a pretty dreadful record for complaints-handling. Up until recently the only person they’d ever struck off in recent years was the notorious cult leader Derek Gale, booted off the register in 2009 for sexually, emotionally, physically and financially abusing his clients.

Since then there’s been ongoing, but painfully slow work to improve their procedures, not least due to the need to obtain accreditation from the Professional Standards Authority. Hopefully it’s a sign of this improvement that the UKCP has now, for the first time since the Gale case, struck off a therapist.

The dubious honour goes to a Leeds-based therapist by the name of Julia Eastwood. The reason why she’s been struck off are pretty straightforward.

It has come to UKCP’s attention that the respondent has and continues to advertise and offer services as a psychotherapist. The FTPT were provided with links of websites (listed below) which demonstrated non-compliance of the suspension order of 26 June 2013.

www.juliaeastwood.co.uk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRzryzvfqw4
http://www.julia-eastwood.com/#!stayslimforever/c1jox
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2SfLH0ZSDU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLzLhjT0T1w

UKCP invited the respondent to address the evidence in relation to her continuing practise. The respondent did not refute nor address the allegations. She stated that she is no longer a member of UKCP and that UKCP are not to write to her again.
The FTPT were particularly concerned that the respondent’s website shows unequivocally that she is offering psychotherapy services despite being advised by UKCP that she should not be practising or offering psychotherapy services whilst she has a suspension order in place.

So, she hasn’t complied with her suspension, is therefore struck off. I’ve been heavily critical of the UKCP in the past, but I think it’s only fair to state that this is an entirely correct decision.

Sadly, the fact that “psychotherapist” and “counsellor” aren’t protected titles means this happens fairly regularly. I’ve come across several examples of suspended or even struck off therapists who have just carried on practicing regardless. Ms Eastwood’s website certainly continues to advertise her services.

As it happens, there’s another psychotherapist, Rob Waygood, who is currently on an interim suspension order with the UKCP, pending a hearing for gross professional misconduct…

…and as it also happens, he’s continuing to advertise his services online too.

robwaygood

Screenshot taken at roughly 8.30pm on 14th November 2013.