Letters to the Editors: Association of Adult Psychotherapists (AAP)

Webster, M., 2003. Letters to the Editors: Association of Adult Psychotherapists (AAP). Reformulation, Autumn, pp.3-4.


Letters to the Editors

Association of Adult Psychotherapists (AAP)

Following the recent and interesting articles about practising CAT in the NHS, I thought ACAT members might like to know about the AAP.

The association was formed about ten years ago in response to the difficulties some psychotherapists were facing in the NHS, as they did not have a recognised ‘core profession’. The founder members were working in the psychodynamic tradition but without the usual NHS terms and conditions, pay scales, and clinical management procedures. Being ‘non-medical’ excluded them from having any recognisable status in the NHS and was interfering with their ability to practice professionally.

Initially the AAP was concerned with discussing local problems and supporting each other with trying to improve professional standards of psychotherapy in the NHS. This has become the main aim of the organisation. Later a terms and conditions document was developed closely related to the Child Psychotherapy pay scale. The process took time as the association works through discussion and collective agreement. The final document was ratified in 2001 and sent to all relevant NHS managers.

The pay and conditions document is now used for guidance by several large psychotherapy departments and in many other more isolated situations. The response to the document has been very positive. It outlines the profession of Adult Psychotherapy, with three bands of grades following the completion of training, but does not mandate training in the same way as Child Psychotherapy. The AAP grading is being used in many of the early implementer Trusts that are trialling Agenda for Change and so will, hopefully, be benchmarked. Amicus are representing the AAP at these negotiations.

Until recently it was fair to say that the AAP had been restricted to straightforward psychodynamic therapies. However, the aim was always to be inclusive and recently the objectives of the association have been amended in a way that would include CAT therapists who are pursuing the aim of developing professional standards of practice in the NHS.

From a personal perspective I did not come into the NHS with a ‘core’ profession and so have been put into the category of Professions Allied to Medicine (PAMs). Without any recognisable status my employment conditions have been poor in regards to pay. I have no entitlements for CPD, no time allowed for training and no clarity in Clinical Management structure. All of this compromises my practice and professional development in a way that is unhelpful. Conversely, I have found the AAP helpful.

Whilst I am sure that many therapists enjoy better conditions of employment, there is a wide disparity across Trusts. The AAP is the only organisation that is trying to address professional issues across the NHS from the therapists’ perspective. With Agenda for Change likely to be adopted in October 2004 there is an opportunity for us to participate in defining the context of professional practice in the NHS for the foreseeable future. The AAP is a forum where we can start to discuss these issues.

Mark Webster
Branksome Clinic, Poole.

Full Reference

Webster, M., 2003. Letters to the Editors: Association of Adult Psychotherapists (AAP). Reformulation, Autumn, pp.3-4.

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