The Big Issue - Report from UKCP

Knight, M., 2004. The Big Issue - Report from UKCP. Reformulation, Spring, p.31.


In the absence of a Chair of ACAT I attended the UKCP Chair’s Day in December. The Agenda was entirely focused on how UKCP should evolve as an organisation, and the big issue, seen as pivotal in the debate, is should it move to individual registration of members. There is then a second question, if so how: in taking on a greater role centrally on Registration should UKCP concurrently seek to devolve as much as possible, especially in serving the members and representing the profession, to the Sections (of which the Humanistic and Integrative Section, HIPS is one) who might become Institutions.

I doubt I was alone in being left with two very different conclusions from a good day’s discussion: positive on individual registration, negative on beefing up Sections.

A powerful case is made for UKCP to move towards individual registration. Under the present structure, within broad UKCP guidelines/policies, Sections and Member Organisations (MOs) set regulatory standards governing trainings, qualifications, ‘labels’ or titles, complaints and appeals. The problems arise when there are disputes between MOs as there has been over ‘labels’ (who is entitled to call themselves a child psychotherapist or a psychoanalyst?); and, even more so, over appeals where UKCP is the final arbiter but where there are different codes and procedures in MOs. Individual registration would mean UKCP itself setting the regulations and taking direct responsibility for the individual names that appear in its Register so that it can avoid or handle unambiguously any disputes, complaints and appeals. The case for it becomes compelling when one remembers that the whole purpose of UKCP is to protect the public and, as a means to that end, to enable statutory regulation to be introduced - Government always arguing that it won’t move on legislation until the profession has got its own house in order, still a long way off. This need for a sharpened focus on its regulatory function goes hand in hand with the need for UKCP to separate this organisationally from the provision of services to the membership/the profession and the development of a more forceful voice for the profession externally – eventually member services and standards/regulation might end up in separated bodies altogether, as with the doctors.

The case is very far from made that, in parallel with moving towards individual registration/regulation, there should be a move towards Sections becoming Member Institutions (MIs). This might take the form of a loose federation of Member Institutions each shorn of a regulatory role (to be held centrally at UKCP by the Registration Board). However I did not hear any compelling arguments put forward for MIs, nor a coherent explanation of the authorities of an MI and its new boundaries with UKCP and the Governing Board (GB). For CAT psychotherapists our Member Institution would be HIPS and, as with other Sections, a great deal of investment would need to be made in shaping its vision, identity and organisation, competing for identity with other Sections but also with BPS, BCP and BACP – and indeed with ACAT itself – as if we as professionals, never mind the public, don’t already have enough institutional names to get our heads round! Indeed I had the suspicion that the impetus for MIs is coming from quite different but undeclared motives, such as the Governing Board looking for a way of avoiding having to grasp the nettle of managing a diverse profession; or fantasies of aggrandisement in the minds of some prominent players in the Sections; or the hope that mergers at the UKCP level would magically be made easier.

I hope that at the AGM in March UKCP will see the sense of keeping the two issues entirely separate. What is needed is for the Governing Board to capture and capitalise on the strong consensus on the first without muddying it with trying to decide immediately on the second. It should put forward a clear conceptual set of proposals about what has to change on registration and regulation as between individuals, MOs and UKCP; and to couple this with a review of the implementation options, including a radical rethink of the role of Sections, where the choice is from MIs to abolition, or to fewer Sections than now, each involving a range of different roles/powers. Failure to keep the two issues separate could lead to huge unnecessary confusion and to losing the plot on both!

Cynthia Pollard and I would welcome comment and discussion, and will keep you informed as to what happens at the AGM.

Telephone: 0207 722 9007

Michael Knight

Full Reference

Knight, M., 2004. The Big Issue - Report from UKCP. Reformulation, Spring, p.31.

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