Letter from the Chair of ACAT

Westacott, M., 2008. Letter from the Chair of ACAT. Reformulation, Summer, pp.3-4.

Dear CAT Colleagues,
It gives me great pleasure to write this, my first Chair’s letter. Since taking over from Mary Dunn at the recent AGM in London, much seems to have happened in the world of psychotherapy and counselling. These developments will require our careful attention and action in the months ahead and will present us in ACAT with opportunities as well as challenges. I want to mention some of these briefly in this letter, but first, let me introduce the new Directors of the organisation, who were elected or re-elected at the AGM in January 2008.

Directors with Office:

Mark Westacott - Chair
Hilary Brown - Vice Chair
Stephen White - Treasurer/Secretary

Directors without Office:

Annalee Curran
Mary Dunn
Jessie Emilion
Steve Potter
Vicki Richer
Virginia West

There have also been some recent changes to various posts within committees: Anna Jellema has taken over from me as the Chair of the Training Committee and Val Fretten has replaced Sally Gray, organising supervisor training. Robyn Vesey, from the St. Thomas’ Practitioner course has also joined Council as one of two Trainee Representatives. Liz Fawkes will continue to chair the Exam Board and Sally Anne Ennis will continue to oversee applications for accreditation of prior learning.

On behalf of all of us I want to thank everyone who has recently stood down for their hard work and contributions to the organization. I particularly want to thank Michael Knight, who has stood down as Treasurer, for his many years of commitment to ACAT both as Treasurer and as one of our main representatives
at the UKCP.

I am also very pleased to announce that from May 2008 we have additional administrative support in the ACAT office. Kim Meldrum, who will be known to many of you for her work with the Exam Board, will be in the office two days a week, working alongside Susan van Baars. Having Kim will allow us to improve our administration and financial systems and also cover the increased activity that our link with the university will involve. Kim will continue her work with the Exam Board and will also be the main administrator for the 2009 International CAT Conference, which will be in the UK.

This year will be an interesting and busy one with various projects coming to fruition and new pathways being developed. In the autumn we will see the first university accredited practitioner CAT courses running in Manchester, Northumberland and a new course in Scotland. These were validated last year by Sheffield Hallam University and will have their first intakes in September. Further accredited courses across the country will have their initial intakes next year. Also this year for the first time we have a number of students starting the MSc in CAT by research dissertation, awarded by Sheffield Hallam University. This, two-year part-time course involves the completion of a clinically-focussed research project, supervised by CAT researchers in partnership with academic staff from the university. The application rates to all of the practitioner courses this year have been high and with the psychotherapy course continuing to be oversubscribed, training in CAT looks very much alive and healthy.

Although the home of CAT is here in the UK, the model continues to develop and proliferate overseas with courses and centres of practice now in a number of countries across Europe and further afield. This year alone we have received requests for training from South America, Germany, the USA and India and to help coordinate this and stimulate the development of accredited training abroad we have recently set up an International Steering Committee, chaired by Steve Potter. This group is only just coming together but it will hopefully lead to greater collaboration in developing the model and promoting internationally recognised standards of training.

I mentioned above a number of national developments that are already impacting on us and around which we are going to have to navigate this year. The first of these is the statutory regulation of psychotherapists by the Health Professions Council (HPC). The government plans to regulate the profession of psychotherapy and proposals are currently being discussed and will be implemented some time between 2009 and 2011. If you are a UKCP accredited psychotherapist then your transfer to the new HPC register should be straightforward. There has been some anxiety that the HPC will be recognising just three treatment modalities – cognitive-behavioural, psychoanalytic / psychodynamic and family / systemic – with no recognition given to the group of humanistic and integrative psychotherapies (the HIPS section of the UKCP), to which we currently belong. Those of you who are members of the UKCP will have recently received a letter from James Altrican, Chair of the UKCP about this matter. However, the question of the number of recognised modalities is still undecided and it now looks in fact as though the generic title “psychotherapist” is more likely to be recognised, allowing therapists to add their own specific modality.

If you are a CAT practitioner and not a UKCP member, you will not be affected by these proposed changes and can continue to practice as before.

In ACAT we have so far lobbied politically on this and related issues through HIPS (Humanistic and Integrative Psychotherapy Section) with some success. We now need to consider the wider impact of these proposals on our organisation and training programmes and so we have set a strategy group within ACAT to do just this. The remit of this group will be to look not just at the HPC but also developments such as Increasing Access to Psychology Therapies (IAPT) and Skills for Health, and to advise the Trustees and Council on the best way we can position ourselves to ensure that CAT continues to thrive and grow, in what can sometimes feel like an increasingly difficult climate.

These are exciting and challenging times and our aim is always to ensure that our members are supported and feel that the organisation is representing and protecting their interests. I would welcome any suggestions or comments you might have about any of these or other issues.

Mark Westacott
Chair of ACAT

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Full Reference

Westacott, M., 2008. Letter from the Chair of ACAT. Reformulation, Summer, pp.3-4.

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