I’ve argued on this blog in favour of making counsellors and psychotherapists protected titles in the same way as nurses, social workers, occupational therapists etc. A previous survey suggested that at least one in four counsellors or psychotherapists who were struck off by the BACP or UKCP for misconduct simply carried on practising. And that’s perfectly legal to do, because neither “counsellor” nor “psychotherapist” are protected titles.
In response, some have argued that there’s no point in having protected titles. Suppose you have a practitioner who’s been struck off and doesn’t want to stop practising, or doesn’t want to submit themselves to a statutory regulator, or simply never acquired any qualifications in the first place. If protected titles were brought in, all they would have to do is change their job title. Say, to “humanistic therapist” or “Jungian analyst”. I decided to test this hypothesis.
Following a recent controversy over conversion therapy and transgender people, I contacted the Professional Standards Authority for comment. Today I received a reply.
Conversion therapy is a controversial form of psychotherapy which aims to turn gay people straight, or in some cases to revert transgender people to their birth gender. Pretty much all the research evidence suggests it’s ineffective and harmful. Most psychotherapy organisations in Britain have condemned conversion therapy for gay people, but have not done so for transgender people.
From November 2015 to January 2016, the Professional Standards Authority briefly suspended the UK Council for Psychotherapy from their list of accredited registers. After the UKCP made a number of changes, the suspension was lifted. The PSA have now published their reasons for the suspension. When I commented about it online, various people suggested I was making a fuss about a “storm in a teacup”, and that this was simply a normal part of the reaccreditation process.
From reading the PSA’s review, it becomes clear that this was no storm in a teacup. It involves, among other things, the apparent mishandling of a sexual misconduct case.
[Trigger warnings: abuse, suicide]
A bit of context to the following post. About a year ago I started writing a book on therapy abuse. The project foundered due to, well, my own laziness, quite frankly. However, before procrastination took hold I’d gathered a substantial quantity of research materials about a notorious therapist-turned-cult-leader by the name of Derek Gale. What follows was originally intended to be a chapter in the book. I recently dug it out and finished the chapter, so that an awful tale does not remain untold.
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.
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.
I suddenly noticed something on the Professional Standards Authority’s list of Accredited Registers. The UK Council for Psychotherapy are still on the list, but if you click on their page, some eye-opening details are revealed. It seems the UKCP has had their accreditation suspended.
I couldn’t find any mention of this on the UKCP website, which surprised me somewhat.