There’s been a few responses since I noticed a snippet on the Professional Standards Authority website, saying that the UK Council for Psychotherapy has had its accreditation suspended, pending further improvements that the PSA requires. The UKCP have issued a statement, which depicts the suspension as a relatively routine aspect of renewing their accreditation. However, enquiries made by a therapist raise question marks about just how routine it supposedly is.
Some of you may have seen reports about the accreditation of our register by the Professional Standards Authority (the Authority).
We are currently renewing the accreditation of our register with the Authority – a process which is carried out annually.
The Authority’s Accreditation Panel has asked us to look at a number of points in our submission which impact on our meeting all their standards.
The Authority has requested that we make a small number of changes to our Complaints and Conduct Process. For example, that UKCP should not be able to appeal an unduly severe sanction, the length of time that sanctions are made public and that communications to complainants should be clearer.
We are positively engaging with the Authority and are making changes to our submission to clarify a number of points and provide further evidence to the Panel that we have addressed their concerns. We are resubmitting our renewal documents on Tuesday, 5 January 2016. The Authority will then convene its Accreditation Panel. 07/01/16: We can confirm that we have resubmitted the relevant documents and are waiting to hear when the panel will be meeting to discuss this further.
During this renewal process, UKCP members may still use the Authority’s accredited registers mark.
We successfully applied to the Accredited Registers Programme in 2013 and Authority reaccredited our register last year.
Janet Weisz, UKCP Chair said: ‘UKCP is committed to protecting the public and upholding high standards in psychotherapy training and practice. We are confident in the robustness of our complaints procedures and our register. We are working with the Authority to address its concerns.’
Interestingly, nowhere in the UKCP statement is there any use of the word “suspended”. It reads like something routine. Nothing to see here, just us going through the necessary steps to renew our accreditation.
Following this statement, the Professional Standards Authority was contacted by Graham Prince, a Bristol-based sex therapist. He describes their response on his blog.
Enquiries by sextherapybristol.net have confirmed that the suspension did result from UKCP’s annual review application. However, the PSA stated that UKCP’s suspension is “not routine” and added that this is the first time it has had to take the step of suspending a register’s accreditation. The decision is clearly extraordinary and UKCP has the dubious honour of being the first UK psychotherapy body since registration was introduced to have its accreditation suspended. The PSA would not comment on the statement issued by UKCP.
Rather than a matter of minor tweaks to the UKCP’s accreditation, the PSA’s concerns about the standards operating at UKCP were such that it was deemed not to meet two key standards in the PSA’s Standards for Accredited Registers:
- Standard 2: the organisation demonstrates that it is committed to protecting the public and promoting public confidence in the occupation it registers.
The PSA has not made public exactly how UKCP has fallen short. However, to meet this standard an organsiation need “to demonstrate that its purpose and directives are focused on public protection, that in carrying out its voluntary register functions public interest is paramount and that professional interests do not dominate or unintentionally subvert that interest”.
- Standard 5: the organisation demonstrates that it has the capacity to inspire confidence in its ability to manage the register effectively.
Factors the PSA will take into account in making a judgement on an organisation’s ability to meet this standard include its “leadership, its reputation within and outside its field, the skills and experience of those involved in its voluntary register functions, its operational efficiency and its openness”
I’m not entirely surprised, to be honest. The reassuring tone of the UKCP statement never seemed to quite gel with the tone of the PSA’s notice, which made it clear they were “not satisfied” that the UKCP is upholding the required standards.
What happens next is anybody’s guess. I don’t have any inside information, but my gut feeling is that the required changes will be made and the UKCP will then get their accreditation back. It’s simply too important for them to do anything other than bust a gut to get everything up to standard quickly, as anything else would be disastrous both for the organisation and its membership.
That said, this should serve as a warning not only to the UKCP but also to some of the other accredited registers. Without naming any names, I’ve heard reports of people dissatisfied with the handling of a complaint by some psychotherapy registers besides the UKCP. Those other registers may wish to take note. The UKCP may be the first accredited register to face suspension by the PSA, but I’m far from convinced they’ll be the last.