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UKCP Chair Election Statement

Election Statement


This is an important moment in the life of the UKCP and also for psychological therapy in the UK. It is important because both our internal governance and that of the profession at large is still in transition. The outcome of both will determine the shape of our profession for some time. I am standing in this election to highlight this pivotal moment and to seize this opportunity to pursue a vision implicit in the decision in 2009 to embrace a single title for all our members.

For too long the UKCP and our profession has been preoccupied with its modalities and their differences, which have often been the cause of bitter struggle, rigidity, narrow mindedness, a willingness to sacrifice good practice for dogma, and presented the public with an image of an immature profession populated by individuals and groups who prefer to continually fight amongst themselves rather than learn from one another’s experiences.

Of course modalities are important, they reveal the complex nature of human psychological life and the variety of meanings we humans attribute to it. The UKCP is in the best possible place to offer the world of psychotherapy a vision of a healthy integrated profession capable of retaining the enormous wealth of its diverse approaches. But the UKCP needs to engender that capacity for creative vital discourse and cooperation among those approaches, and also a willingness to learn from that.

The UKCP is committed to pursuing the single title of psychotherapist for all its members on the understanding that all practitioners of all modalities trained to a certain standard of practice, accompanied with a sufficient level of self-awareness, are equally prepared to deliver effective psychological therapy and counselling. This is a challenging position for the UKCP to hold and to advocate beyond its borders. It is a courageous and visionary one and I believe we should pursue it. It is this precise vision I want to pursue in our negotiations with IAPT and with the NICE guidelines, and insist that the public have access to properly trained psychological therapists across all modalities.

Explicit in the single title is that we are an integrated profession unified around core principles whose practitioners have much to learn from all our modalities. Our modalities should not divide us, they should enrich us all. Therefore the UKCP needs to continue its transformation, becoming a single body of psychotherapists. To achieve that, we need to enable direct membership of the UKCP without the necessity of belonging to a modality college. For continuing professional development we must provide all our registrants, as well as the public, with the freedom of access to all our colleges.

For that to be possible we must also encourage and support our modalities and their colleges. If colleges were freed from unnecessary layers of bureaucracy and administration, they would have much greater energy and enthusiasm to develop our theories and craft through innovation and research. We need to have their voice in the development of policy and strategy, but if we want to be treated as a unified and integrated profession, we need to be organised around our membership and not our modalities.

I believe this is the way to challenge a situation in which modalities are still striving against one another for power and authority. I want to present the public with an integrated approach to a profession comfortable with, and inclusive of all its differences and confident in its standards of training. The UKCP is in the best place to model precisely that.

The UKCP also needs to be clear and challenging about the confusion around perceived differences between counselling and psychotherapy. It may be the case that the new potential regulator, the CHRE, like the HPC, will find little to distinguish between them, certainly both professions struggle to articulate any difference, and the public are understandably unable to perceive any. In these circumstances the only ethical way forward must surely be to insist upon a single level of generic training for everyone who claims to practice psychological therapy rather than simply providing emotional support.

This is an exciting time in the life of our profession, one that requires courage and conviction. I have been actively involved with UKCP governance as the representative of the Minster Centre for seven years. Throughout that time I have been passionately motivated by a desire to have a professional body made up of its individual members under a single title. I have been a trustee twice, and continuously argued for the realisation of the vision implicit in the now agreed upon single title. I am always presented with the same arguments: it is not yet time, the profession is not yet ready or, alternatively, that because some are ready and others are not it will split the profession. I believe it is now time.

I am standing in this election because I want the members of the UKCP to grasp this opportunity; I believe we are in an extraordinary position to do so and have an enduring impact on the future of psychological therapy. I want to continue to amend and adjust our internal structures robustly, carefully and organically to model a vision of an integrated and unified profession that guarantees high standards. I also want to protect the depth and richness of our profession by making sure the UKCP supports all its modalities and guards against a watered down version of a technique-focussed imitation of psychological therapy.

I want to really challenge IAPT to deliver the broadest spectrum of choice, the NICE guidelines to consider different models of research and treatment styles, and the CHRE in regard to standards of training, and thereby ensure the public the best support for its psychological needs. I believe the future of psychological therapy is with an integrated profession I want to encourage you to grasp this opportunity to ensure the UKCP takes a leadership role in its pursuit.