Letter from the Chair of ACAT

Westacott, M., 2010. Letter from the Chair of ACAT. Reformulation, Summer, pp.3-5.


Dear Colleague I hope you are well and that spring has at last arrived with you. Over the past few months a great deal has been happening in ACAT and also at the UKCP and Health Professions Council (HPC). Many of the uncertainties described in my last letter in October have now become clearer, but there are still a number of possible directions that statutory regulation might take. Before getting into the regulation issue, I will summarise some of the changes that have been happening in ACAT and the UKCP in recent months.

As you may now we now have our own offices in Dorchester. These are in a great location in the centre of town and provide a base for our administrators, Susan and Frances, and a venue for meetings in this part of the country. A number of new roles have also recently been developed within the organisation. Maddy Jevon has joined ACAT as our Liaison Officer, to promote communication within the organisation and assist with various projects such as our application to become a charity and the development of the website. Dawn Bennett is now working with us as the link person between ACAT and Sheffield Hallam University to improve communication between the two organisations and promote the development of all the SHU accredited courses, including the new MSc in CAT. As we move out of the initial development phase with the university much of the work that Dawn has been doing will become more administrative and we are pleased to say that we have just appointed Tia Roos for one day a week to look after the administration of Dawn’s work. We are pleased too that Jane Stephens has also been appointed to the new post of External Examiner for Supervisor Training. This role is central to the new supervisor training programme which we introduced recently to make the route to becoming a supervisor more accessible for people. Encouragingly, applications for supervisor training have already begun to increase this year. Welcome to all of them.

One of the main reasons for these developments in the organisation is to improve the services that we provide for members. In recent years the website has been growing as a central resource for people and now includes extensive course documentation for the practitioner courses, an ever increasing library, international pages and booking facilities for CPD events and conferences, amongst other things. We are currently in the process of developing a new site, with improved search facilities, better information for patients / clients and for the general public, more interactive discussion areas and enhanced capability for showing video training material and podcasts. We are hoping that the outline of the new site will be ready in June of this year and then it should be launched before December.

Despite the current climate of CBT and IAPT, CAT is flourishing around most of the country. There are some exceptions to this where CBT seems to have a stranglehold on the development of other modalities but this is not typical. Membership of ACAT Letter from the Chair of ACAT Mark Westacott 2010-Summer-Reformulation.indd 3 23/07/2010 10:01:18 4 © ACAT Reformulation Summer 2010 Letter from the Chair of ACAT 2008 – 09 Continuing professional development annual report continues to grow and we now have eleven practitioner courses around the country, including Scotland, in addition to the Inter- Regional Psychotherapy Training and numerous skills training courses. There also various regional groups and initiatives, such as CAT East, CAT South, MCAT in the Midlands, Catalyse in Manchester and the learning disability and forensic special interest groups. Information about all of these is listed on the website. We also now, of course, have the international organization (ICATA) to which we belong, and this group is currently developing international standards for practitioner training as well as planning the next international conference, which is likely to be in late 2011 and quite possibly in Poland.

As the organisation grows, communication becomes more important and we have currently launched a new e-newsletter for members that we hope will give people easy access to information about what is going on in the CAT community locally and nationally and also make it easier for people to become involved in the organisation and its decision-making. We have also increased the number of CPD events that we organise and are looking at other benefits for members such as reductions on journal subscriptions. If you have any suggestions about how any of this could be developed further please do let me know.

I now want to go on to discuss the UKCP because when I last wrote the elections were looming and it was unclear who would win. Since then there have been two very significant changes in this organisation. The first of course is that Andrew Samuels won the election with a large majority after leading a campaign that promised to fight against statutory regulation by the HPC. The election process itself was fought bitterly at times and it is taking a while for the dust to settle. The second important change was the launch of the new UKCP constitution in December, 2009. Full details of this and the UKCP vision for its development can be found here on their website: http://www.psychotherapy.org.uk/c2/ uploads/ukcp%20in%20transition%20egm.pdf For us, one of the important changes is that we are now members of both the Humanistic and Integrative College (HIPC – the old HIPS) and the new Cognitive Psychotherapies College (CPC). The new college currently consist of 113 CAT psychotherapists and 72 cognitive-behavioural psychotherapists. The college administrative processes are now being developed with full financial and office support from the UKCP and Mark Webster, the college Chair, will soon be contacting people about the first meeting and other membership issues.

In ACAT we have not take a firm stand one way or another on the issue of HPC regulation as some other organisations have. We have instead expressed our concerns about the various proposals put forward by the HPC Professional Liaison Group (PLG) through the consultation process and meetings we have attended over the past year. We have also begun to prepare for the possibility that the HPC might indeed become the regulator, whilst keeping an open mind about what developments might actually lie ahead.

The UKCP has adopted what it calls a multi-track approach to HPC regulation in order to support the diversity of views about the issue that exist within the organisation. Here are the three tracks they are pursuing:

Track 1 – includes tougher negotiations with HPC to get the ‘best deal’ for registrants.

Track 2 – involves working politically to change the government’s mind about regulation with the HPC and set up a new body – a ‘talking heads council’ or a ‘convention’ – to include all the stakeholders in psychotherapy and counselling to discuss and negotiate an alternative system of state-recognised or ‘statutory’ self-regulation.

Track 3 – adopts the policy of Principled Non-Compliance (PNC; now also called Alternative Professional Accountability by the UKCP) – which means that psychotherapists who disagree with any form of independent regulation would have the right to refuse registration and adopt an alternative title to ‘psychotherapist’ such as Jungian analyst, body therapist, life-coach or other. In this scenario the UKCP would hold a register of members who are both regulated and self-regulated practitioners.

The UKCP is currently debating the feasibility of this last approach, for the example the legality of Principled Non Compliance and how a complaints system separate to the HPC would be managed and how credible this would be. However, they are moving ahead with policy on all of these three fronts, with success in some areas. In addition to this, there is currently a legal challenge being made against the HPC and this is currently before the courts who will decide if there is a case for a Judicial Review. If the Judicial Review goes ahead, then the Department of Health have recently indicated that it will need to be completed before further steps towards HPC regulation are taken, so there might be a considerable delay.

Let’s move on more specifically to the issue of regulation and see where things currently stand. The HPC Professional Liaison Group has now published its response to the public consultation of last year and has set out their recommendations for regulation by the HPC. The full document can be found here: http://www.hpc-uk.org/assets/documents/ 100029C1ReportofthepsychotherapistsandcounsellorsPLG.pdf The Draft Standards of Proficiency for psychotherapists and Counsellors which formed part of the consultation were widely criticised and are currently being reviewed. The HPC Council met again in March, 2010 and agreed that the draft standards would go for further public consultation.

The timeline for this is as follows:

May 2010 – a further PLG meeting

September – December 2010 stakeholder events to take place in each of the four home counties

February 2011 PLG meeting

May 2011 PLG report to HPC Council. In addition to this further consultation, the Section 60 legislation needs to be drafted, (this is the legislation that would eventually make the HPC the regulator by law), there needs to be a policy position paper written and a regulatory impact assessment needs to be undertaken. This is all going to take some time, without factoring in the general election.

My own assessment of all of this is still that the HPC is likely to become the regulator, although this will not be until 2012 at the earliest. In ACAT we have started planning for this as the organisation will need to fulfil various criteria set by the HPC for our register of psychotherapists to be eligible for transfer. Some of the changes we have already made include the new CPD policy, the working with children and vulnerable adults policy and a new equal opportunities policy. Otherwise, I think we have everything in place now in terms of meeting the organisational requirements should they become the regulator.

As things currently stand, when the HPC register opens it will be the names of accredited psychotherapists who will be transferred from ACAT and the UKCP to the HPC. In addition to transfer there will also be a grandparenting route into the HPC which will be open for three years. This will allow people who do not qualify automatically for transfer to apply directly to the HPC for registration on the basis of previous psychotherapy experience. We do not know yet what criteria will eventually be adopted by the HPC for grandparenting. However, it certainly now looks as though High Intensity IAPT workers will indeed become accredited by the HPC as Psychotherapists and this raises the possibility that the standard of entry into the HPC may be lower that what has historically been seen acceptable by ACAT and the UKCP.

All of this demands a creative response from us as there is a tension between maintaining a standard of psychotherapy training that is acceptable to us as CAT therapists, whilst also ensuring that we can thrive and compete with colleagues working in other modalities. There are a number of possible options open to us such as developing an Accreditation of Prior Learning route for psychotherapists, providing additional “top of” modules for practitioners who wish to become psychotherapists or rethinking the practitioner training course itself so that it becomes more clearly part of a relational psychotherapy training which can then be completed in perhaps three years (with the choice of leaving after two with a practitioner certificate). These are just some of the suggestions that have been made so far and clearly they have their advantages and drawbacks. No doubt there will be other options as well and there will be various opportunities as we go through the year to let us in Council know which direction you think we should take. Do contact me directly as well if you have any suggestions or comments to make at this stage.

All of this is still tentative of course, as the HPC itself is about to go into a further period of consultation. However, we need to start planning our route ahead and we also need to see how colleagues in other therapy organisations are responding. Certainly there is currently a lot of disquiet about the possibility that High Intensity IAPT workers are likely to be given the title of psychotherapist and there is growing support amongst UKCP Member Organisations for a collective response to challenge this.

This brings me to the end of this summary. I hope it has shown how we are working hard to develop and improve the services that we provide for you and also ensure that the CAT voice continues to be heard in all of these debates. The next main event we have coming up is the national conference in Hertfordshire University in July and it would be great to see you there. It should be a lively conference!

With warm regards,
Mark Westacott
Chair, ACAT - May 2010

Full Reference

Westacott, M., 2010. Letter from the Chair of ACAT. Reformulation, Summer, pp.3-5.

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