PSA lifts suspension of UKCP accreditation

From reading the UKCP page on the Professional Standard Authority’s list of accredited registers, it appears their suspension has now been lifted.

UKCP’s accreditation was renewed by the Panel on 18 January 2016. The Panel’s decision will be published in due course.

This is not unexpected. Indeed, I predicted that would most likely be the case in my last blog post. That said, some of the other accredited registers may wish to take note that this is something that can happen. The UKCP may be the first AR to face suspension, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they turn out not to be the last.

In other UKCP news, candidates have been announced for the new UKCP chair. The two candidates are Pat Hunt and Martin Pollecoff. From reading their manifestos, they come across, respectively, as “the continuity candidate” and “the change candidate”. Pollecoff has some interesting things to say in his statement about the complaints procedures.

Separating the Regulation and Membership functions
The regulator works on behalf of the public to police our members. This requires a culture of objectivity and detachment.  In contrast, a good membership organisation encourages the creativity and success of its members: and we need to be a closer community and involve our members more.
That’s why we need to separate these conflicting cultures so both sides can flourish.  How we do that is a subject for wider discussion.

Interesting comments, and ones that I broadly agree with.

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18 thoughts on “PSA lifts suspension of UKCP accreditation

  1. Proverbial storm in equally proverbial teapot.

  2. The disgusting thing about UKCP is, they would have never changed the complaints procedure themselves (they saw nothing wrong with it!), it took an outside Authority to MAKE them change it. What sort of organisation hasnt got an appeal procedure?! Outrageous!

    What sort of organisation hasnt got an appeal procedure? A dodgy one.

    • The UKCP volunteered to sign up to the PSA’s Accredited Register scheme knowing that their complaints procedure was going to be subject to the PSA’s scrutiny. The PSA only has the leverage to force the UKCP to change its way because the UKCP asked them to do so. The deal that the PSA offers is “If you sort out the way you regulate your members and do what we say to protect the public then we will vouch for your register”, they make it worth the while for organisations to get their act together and regulate properly (and if you look at the decisions on the PSA’s website you will see that all the accredited registers had to be improved to bring them up to the PSA’s standards).

      As far as appeals go the UKCP is not particularly different from the BACP. According to the BACP’s complaints procedure a complaint will first be considered by the Pre-Hearing Assessment Panel who will decide “whether to accept the complaint to be dealt with at a Professional Conduct Hearing, refer it back for further information/clarification or reject it.” The complainant can appeal the Panel’s decision and submit additional evidence to the Appeal Assessor, whose decision is final.

      According to the UKCP’s complaint’s procedure, although there is no option to appeal the final decision of the equivalent pre-hearing screening process, if the decision is made not to proceed “any Complainant must be informed that they may re-submit the complaint one more time with any additional evidence that may satisfy the realistic prospect test”.

      In both cases if you complain and you don’t like the decision not to proceed with your complaint you have an opportunity to submit additional evidence and have your complaint reconsidered. In both cases that is the limit of what you can do to challenge the organisation’s decisions.

      If there is a hearing then neither the BACP nor the UKCP’s complaint’s procedure has any provision for the complainant to appeal against the decision reached in the hearing.

  3. ” The PSA only has the leverage to force the UKCP to change its way because the UKCP asked them to do so.”

    Thats wrong and a manipulation of UKCP’s responsibility and ethical care towards the public!

    The UKCP did not “ask” the PSA to force UKCP to change. If UKCP wanted to change something in their complaints procedure they would have done so years before they wanted to be added to the PSA register.

    I find what you are saying and how you are trying to spin it deeply disturbing.

    I ask it again, what sort of organisations that boasts to protect the public does not allow the complainant to appeal?! IT.IS.OUTRAGEOUS! As a matter of fact, it does anything in its power to stop the complainant appeal!?

    Perhaps you are unaware of the weight an outcome of a complaint holds for the COMPLAINANT. Although the result has no legal or lawful bind, having a complaint upheld means that the complainant can take the therapist to court as a lawyer will be more likely to take on.
    Also, if the governing body has dismissed a complaint of rape (let’s face it they are not trained in law!) the victim may want to take the therapist to court which will become very difficult for the victim as the governing body has already ruled against the complainant.
    Worst case scenario could now be, if the complainant goes ahead and takes the therapist to court, the therapist can claim defamation of character (which will be supported by the dismissed complaint!!) and if s/he wins the client ends up paying!

    And you telling me the UKCP doesnt know that? Something is very wrong here….

    • “If UKCP wanted to change something in their complaints procedure they would have done so years before they wanted to be added to the PSA register.”

      You’re assuming that the UKCP as an organisation can effectively express the desires of its members, but its awkward structure makes that very difficult. If a group of people tie themselves together and then can’t move because everyone’s pulling in a different direction it doesn’t mean that the group is staying put because no one in it wants to move.

      The UKCP is a registered charity and one of its stated activates is that it “promotes high standards of training and practice in psychotherapy and the wider provision of psychotherapy for the public benefit”. For years the UKCP has been failing in their attempts at this activity because its register didn’t provide effective protection, then along came the PSA who offered to vouch for their register if they could prove that it really did protect the public. Yes, it took the sweetener of statutory recognition to get them to finally commit themselves to getting their act together and making their complaints procedure work, but they did still make that choice, nobody forced them to accredit their register.

      Professional regulations are not statutory laws, no professional body could decide whether or not a therapist had raped their client, rape is illegal and only a criminal court could decide if the law had been broken. They cannot plug the gaps in criminal laws (which is why I would like to see “Controlling or coercive behaviour” in a professional relationship made an illegal in much the same way as it now is in an intimate or family relationship under the 2015 Serious Crimes Act) are they cannot make up for failings on the part of the CPS, the courts or the police. If lawyers or courts misinterpret the rulings of professional bodies then the failing is with the legal system not the professional regulators.

      Whatever the case was in the past the UKCP’s “Complaints and Conduct Process” does now include an appeals procedure with mechanisms for both the complainant and the registrant to appeal on the grounds of them being procedurally unsound, unduly lenient or there being new evidence. Curiously, the equivalent section in the BACP’s “Professional Conduct Procedure” says the “Member/Registrant Complained Against may appeal” but makes no provision for the complainant to make an appeal.

      All-in-all I’d say that the UKCP was shambolic but they are now sorting themselves out.

      • Yes, it took the sweetener of statutory recognition to get them to finally commit themselves to getting their act together and making their complaints procedure work, but they did still make that choice, nobody forced them to accredit their register.

        Technically not, but it would have been disastrous for UKCP if they hadn’t. Imagine a situation were the BACP were accredited and UKCP weren’t? That would have de facto made UKCP the second-rate professional body, meant that NHS, education, social services etc would expect BACP rather than UKCP registration, and caused a mass exodus of therapists from UKCP to BACP.

      • What actually happened was that when the Coalition was elected, it abandoned the failing attempt to regulate the psychotherapists and counsellors through the HPC and this approach was embraced by all the bodies enthusiastically as the best alternative.

      • No doubt the Coalition felt it would replicate the stellar successes of self-regulation by the tabloid media and the financial services sector.

    • We need to be very careful not to expect more from a professional organisation than it is constituted to deliver. None of the professional bodies can be expected to provide restitution of any kind to complainants, whether practical, financial, psychological or moral. That must, surely, be strictly the realm of the civil courts. Nor can such a body can punish wrongdoing. That must remain the sole jurisdiction of the criminal courts. All a professional body is competent to do is sanction a member in order to maintain standards or to protect the public from future harm if necessary. Anything else would be a dangerous scope creep. Even striking somebody off cannot be a punishment but must be justified as measure to uphold safety or standards. The police should certainly not be determining whether to prosecute somebody for rape on the basis of any decision by the UKCP or any similar body. To suggest to a complainant that they could expect punishment or restitution from any professional body would be to completely mislead them. In a civilised country, justice should remain the job of the courts. Regulation is not the same thing.

  4. “Technically not, but it would have been disastrous for UKCP if they hadn’t.”

    The choice that the UKCP faced was sort out the complaints procedure and lose the members who aren’t actually fit to practice or don’t accredit their register and lose the members who want/need credible registration. That was a straightforward choice for the UKCP because they were already attempting to run a credible register so their members generally value a credible register over an easy ride.

    If you compare this with a bogus register that just takes a cheque to join then the choice would go the other way, if they wanted to accredit their register then the would have to lose most of their members first.

    The point I was trying to make is that the situation with the UKCP and the PSA looks more like a well meaning organisation being helped through the painful transition into an effective regulatory body than a unscrupulous organisation being force to mend it’s ways by a powerful public body.

    • Any organisation that is not able to add an appeal procedure to their complaint procedure acts in an unethical and irresponsible way (and in an neglectful and reckless way regarding the protection of the public).

      We are living in the West, I have been brought up on a dose of democracy and free speech. We are in an era where equality is big and you are telling me that an organisation that is all about open-mindedness, self awareness, equality and unconscious dynamics especially in group settings, is unable to devise something that is not only fair but protective?

      If that is the case, an organisation like that sounds rather inadequate and weak, if not corrupt and self-serving.

      My opinion is not based on a Hope that those governing bodies are “well-meaning” but rather on facts and the many hours I have spoken to other victims of psycho-the-rapists who had their worlds torn apart because the UKCP has not only treated them appallingly throughout hearings (if it comes to a hearing!!) which re-traumatised but silenced them by not providing an appeal procedure which in turn made it impossible for them to get an attorney to take on their case.

      And please dont tell me that is down to the judicial system. The UKCP work with lawyers who are well aware of this fact.

      But that all aside, what could possibly be so unethical and unprofessional or even downright dangerous about offering people a fair appeal procedure that the UKCP as a group has not been able (on their own) to produce a fair complaints/appeal procedure?

      They are either absolutely inadequate and weak or corrupt and self serving.

      • Much of what you say would be true if the UKCP was a public body with a duty to represent the public, it’s not, it’s a Private Limited Company with a duty to represent its shareholders. It can strive to protect the public if that’s what the shareholder want but it has no intrinsic responsibility to do so.

        That is why the PSA’s involvement is necessary, it is a public body with a duty to protect the public. As a Private Limited Company the UKCP is legally obliged to be self-serving, to prove that it is also acting in the interests of the public (because that’s what the shareholders want it to do) it needs the PSA to represent those public interests.

  5. I know of a victim who has been raped by a therapist registered with UKCP. When the victim handed in the complaint the therapist’s lawyer demanded the victim’s medical notes of the victim.
    Following this demand the UKCP wrote to the complainant threatening that if the complainant did not hand in the PRIVATE and CONFIDENTIAL medical notes the hearing may not go ahead.

    Even the woman from the clinic of boundary studies did not point out to the complainant that this was another overstepping of the complainant’s personal boundaries and not just unfair but downright bias and untrue.

    But then again, the UKCP have been able to make the rules up as it suited them as they had no one to answer to – until now. And that is why they were taken off the PSA register.

    • My understanding from this blog post is that they haven’t been taken off the register.

      Again, it seems to me that the police would be the correct body to deal with a rape alegation in the first instance rather than the UKCP. I would be very concerned if “the woman from the Clinic for Boundary Studies” recomended the UKCP as the first port of call in such a situation or if the UKCP didn’t wait for the police to investigate before proceeding.

      I can imagine that there might be many reasons why a complainants’ medical records might be vital to cases. It is hard to establish that as a reason on its own to criticise without more information.

      Again, it seems to me that civil courts would want to look at the evidence before them rather than rely on the findings of a body such as the UKCP. The UKCP would be asking a completely different question about public safety which is not the same as tort. Such a case would have to stand on its own merits in civil law.

      Appeals in a professional organisation will only be relevant if new evidence is likely to change the outcome from a public protection perspective. There is no “winning and losing” for the complainant in a fitness to practice hearing. This again, is a completely different question as to whether legally redressable damage has been done. I can’t see that the courts should be taking any notice of the UKCP’s procedures at all if there is clear evidence of damage done that needs to be actioned, regardless of the quality or otherwise of their appeals process.

      I suspect that the real problem here is the strength of those cases in law and the lack of provision of legal aid for such cases requiring lawyers to be more choosy about cases that will provide certain wins for little effort in order that no-win-no-fee arrangements will support their livelihoods. That is a very serious problem but cannot be solved by anything the UKCP might want to do.

      • “I would be very concerned if “the woman from the Clinic for Boundary Studies” recomended the UKCP as the first port of call in such a situation or if the UKCP didn’t wait for the police to investigate before proceeding.”

        Could it be that the complainant didnt want to press charges against the therapist at first? Perhaps didnt even realise it was rape and felt partly/fully responsible?
        Perhaps the UKCP recommended the clinic of boundary studies and not the other way round?

        Although I was not raped by my therapist, a person I have been in contact with has been though and we were both told by different solicitors that our cases may only stand a chance in court if the governing body upheld the complaints. Until then they would not go near it.

        “I can imagine that there might be many reasons why a complainants’ medical records might be vital to cases. It is hard to establish that as a reason on its own to criticise without more information.”

        There is NO valid reason for the defendant to DEMAND (and then threaten – not “ask”) for medical notes. The hearing is and always should be about the therapeutic relationship and what has happened within it. It certainly is not about the past, it is about the present and the alleged crimes committed by the therapist. Not the alleged crimes committed by the client against the therapist.

        In my complaint against a therapist via the BACP the therapist had brought the DMS to the hearing. She wanted to tell the panel what was “wrong” with me (to justify her actions!!) the panel told her twice very firmly to “put the book away!”
        That same therapist rang up my GP when she heard I handed in a complaint against her, telling him that I was a “threat to my child!!” (such a damaging comment is also added to medical files btw, which would then be handed to the defendant’s lawyer etc etc etc – you get the picture, Im sure)

        So, Why on earth would it be “vital” to give something highly private and confidential like medical records, something that can be used to manipulate the complainant’s account of what happened or even annihilate his/her character, to the very person you are trying to proof has abused his power?!
        Surely this would only be an advantage to the defendant and his lawyer who is looking for the smallest thing to get the therapist off the hook (come on, must I really break it down for you?)

        Not to mention that the complainant is already in a disadvantage position as he has no barrister of his own (he HAS TO take the UKCP barrister! if not he doesnt get a hearing!)

        “Again, it seems to me that civil courts would want to look at the evidence before them rather than rely on the findings of a body such as the UKCP. The UKCP would be asking a completely different question about public safety which is not the same as tort. Such a case would have to stand on its own merits in civil law.”
        I assume you are a solicitor or have studied law or are in any other way well informed other than just going by “woulds and shoulds?”
        If such a hearing is not at all connected in any way with civil or law proceedings then why the need for lawyers at such hearings?

        “Appeals in a professional organisation will only be relevant if new evidence is likely to change the outcome from a public protection perspective.”
        This is only partly correct, one can also appeal (for example with BPC – unless they have changed it now that they are operating from an interim procedure) if the complaint procedure has been abandoned in some way. This point is very important as the complainant has a chance to report any behaviour that s/he feels has been unfair or even corrupt.

        “I can’t see that the courts should be taking any notice of the UKCP’s procedures at all if there is clear evidence of damage done that needs to be actioned, regardless of the quality or otherwise of their appeals process”

        UKCP’s findings, not procedure. And there is not always clear evidence in a rape case. Perhaps you could get me in touch with your solicitor who took on your case, I would really appreciate that.

        “I suspect that the real problem here is the strength of those cases in law and the lack of provision of legal aid for such cases requiring lawyers to be more choosy about cases that will provide certain wins for little effort in order that no-win-no-fee arrangements will support their livelihoods. That is a very serious problem but cannot be solved by anything the UKCP might want to do.”

        Ah interesting, that is the REAL problem is it. It might be part of the problem.

        Maybe the “real”problem is that…

        The members make the group. UKCP is no exception. And if we have members in the UKCP that are like those narcissistic and psychopathic therapists that are being complaint against (yet only penalised minimally if at all) then the complainant stands no chance. Unless of course he has 15.000 pounds to take the therapist to court, or 30.000 pound if he looses.

        Isnt it time to wake up and see the world for what it is instead of walking around in this fog in which things “should” and “would” and “could” happen a different way?

        In the words of Judge Judy “Dont piss against my leg and tell me it’s raining”

      • Leaving the wise words of the eminent Judge Judy aside, I find myself with little more to contribute other than what I have already said about the legalities. I have to take issue with what you say about UKCP membership, however. Those members with whom I have had contact have been very fine people.

  6. “The hearing is and always should be about the therapeutic relationship and what has happened within it. It certainly is not about the past, it is about the present and the alleged crimes committed by the therapist. Not the alleged crimes committed by the client against the therapist. ”

    Hearing by professional bodies can only be about the practitioner’s fitness to practice, they are not and should never be about alleged crimes by anyone. The only question professional bodies can address in a hearing is “In the light of the complaint made against this practitioner should we continue to endorse their practice?”

    Even if the complaint is upheld the practitioner will never be punished, professional bodies do not have the power to take punitive action. Any sanctions imposed will be to protect the public from future misconduct; they will be proportionate only to the risk that practitioner poses to the public at the time of the decision. If you want the practitioner to be punished for what they did, rather than being sanctioned to stop them doing it again, the only place you can take the case is criminal court.

    It is outrageous that it has taken the UKCP so long to sort out their complaints procedure, but it is much more outrageous that solicitors would refuse to take on a case unless a private body with no legal standing examined the incident first, and that you were left with no alternative but to seek justice from a body that had neither the power nor the competence to offer it.

  7. on another note, why does wordpress derive so much information from our accounts when we login to this site?

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