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.