charity backs registration of counsellors and therapists
by Angela Hussain
(this article was slightly modified for clarity on July
most influential mental health charity in the UK has joined urgent
calls for counsellors and psychotherapists be independently regulated.
this does not happen people will be left “unprotected”
from abuse, claims the Mind charity.
call comes on the day that psychologists are from now on to be regulated
by the Health Professions Council (HPC).
now the British Psychological Society had used a chartership system
to accredit its members. But the complaints procedure was considered
partial and insufficiently vigorous.
HPC will have responsibility for keeping a register of psychologists
who meet national standards for training, professional skills and
is now urging counsellors and psychotherapists to also become regulated
by the HPC.
therapies remain one of the least regulated areas of mental health
practice in the UK, says the charity. At present anyone can practice
as a counsellor or psychotherapist, even if they have no training
and do not belong to a professional organisation. HPC regulation
could make this illegal.
government has said HPC regulation for psychotherapists and counsellors,
many of whom belong to a variety of professional organisations,
will be introduced by 2011.
some psychotherapists, notably psychoanalysts, and counsellors argue
state regulation will “reinforce protection rackets.”
of empowering users of services it is looking now as if all state
regulation will do is reinforce the protection rackets that rule
the roost,” Ian Parker, a psychoanalyst and professor of psychology
at Manchester Metropolitan University, wrote in a comment
piece for psychminded.co.uk.
for example, are already officially registered (through the Royal
College of Psychiatrists), but we know that this has not stopped
abuse of patients, nor has it curbed the pharmaceutical companies
who peddle the drugs to those ‘professionals’ who write
prescriptions and enforce ‘treatment’.”
is sometimes said that state regulation or ‘registration’
is needed to prevent another Harold Shipman (the GP who murdered
many of his patients). But the big flaw in this argument is that
Shipman was already regulated by the General Medical Council.
the biggest flaw in the scare-story argument here is that ‘registered’
practitioners are sometimes the most dangerous, and it is those
who are outside the registers who do the most creative, supportive
and radical work."
around 2,000 therapists has campaigned against statutory regulation.
coalition, which has outlined its objections in a statement,
claims there is no solid research demonstrating widespread abuse
by practitioners; nor is there research to show regulation lessens
abuse, it says.
Mind insists there needs to be a body to monitor alleged malpractice
executive Paul Farmer said: "People go to see a counsellor
or psychotherapist when they are in distress and it is unacceptable
that at their most vulnerable they are not being properly protected.”
Witness charity for people abused by health and social care workers,
says it is approached every month by people who claim to have been
abused by therapists.
chief executive Jonathan Coe said: "HPC regulation can't end
abuse but it can provide a single, unified and unbiased channel
for complaints, and if a practitioner is struck off they are then
legally barred from operating under that title."
The HPC now regulates the following psychologist types: •
clinical psychologist • counselling psychologist • educational
psychologist • forensic psychologist • health psychologist
• occupational psychologist • practitioner psychologist
• registered psychologist • sport and exercise psychologist
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