This news article is intended to give an overview of the activities and discussions leading to the formation of PCP. It is an account of correspondence which has passed between our organisations, representatives of BACP, UKCP and BPC, and other relevant parties. What follows is a chronological record of this correspondence with comments for additional context and information. Further correspondence will be added to our website in due course.

The following document, originally circulated by UKCP, was leaked to us in June 2019.

All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Counselling and Psychotherapy 


For the collaboration of the Counselling and Psychotherapy Professions, the formal partnership of the British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC) the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) to jointly set up an All-Party Parliamentary Group on Counselling and Psychotherapy and for BPC to provide the secretariat.


We have welcomed the recently published NHS long-term plan as it commits to a significant increase in mental health funding and we are looking forward to the publication of the NHS workforce plan. Approximately 8 million adults are affected by mental health issues and this costs the economy around £105 billion every year. Currently only 15% of people with mental health problems successfully receive any professional support each year through the NHS.

Whilst other APPGs will continue to promote the broader discussion on Mental Health, we believe that there is the need to set up a specific APPG on Counselling and Psychotherapy to encourage, support and promote the benefits of the professions to society and regularly engage with and brief Parliament and government.

The APPG for Counselling and Psychotherapy can ensure that Parliament is kept up-to-date on the evidence-based research available, so that research can inform the creation of a favourable environment where individuals are able to access the type of therapy that is most suitable and beneficial to them.


The All-Party Parliamentary Group will provide a forum to:

Promote creative dialogue about the important role that counselling and psychotherapy play in the formulation and delivery of an effective and comprehensive strategy on mental health.

Raise and maintain awareness amongst parliamentarians of the importance and relevance of counselling and psychotherapy, combining research and best practice briefings to ensure that individuals continue to benefit from the choice of the most appropriate therapy according to their needs.

Disseminate and promote the understanding of the therapists’ workforce, the many different psychotherapeutic treatments available and the benefits of improving access to the different types of talking therapies according to needs and client’s preferences.

Provide the experience and expertise of psychotherapists and counsellors, academics and other experts in this field to ensure that the evidence base is integral to policy development.

Provide a valuable opportunity for parliamentarians to engage with individuals and organisations outside parliament to promote understanding about the value and contribution psychotherapy and counselling offers to individuals’ long-term quality of life, wellbeing and to society as a whole.

Provisional Programme

The APPG on Counselling and Psychotherapy would meet 3-4 times a year. Breakfast meetings could focus on topics and evidence-based briefings on:

The comorbidity of physical and mental health (parity of esteem) and evidence-based case studies to highlight the social and health benefits of psychotherapeutic interventions for both individuals and communities.

The role of the counselling and psychotherapy in the NHS long-term plan,

Current provision of treatment choice in IAPT,

The longer-term strategic aim to deliver mental health workforce planning and the contribution and role of counsellors and therapists within and outside the NHS

The current gap between primary and secondary mental health care, how this is currently being addressed and how it could be improved,

Key Proposed Actions:

Secretariat to produce a newsletter (twice yearly or Termly).

APPG to meet 3-4 times a year

Secretariat to produce report at the end of the year to summarise findings and set out recommendations.

Maintain a lively and open public debate about the psychotherapy and counselling professions.

This developed strategy assumed the involvement of Lord Alderdice as co-chair of this APPG, even though only MP’s may chair APPGs.

Lord Alderdice was contacted to request information about his involvement.

EMAIL (01.07.19)

Dear Lord Alderdice,

This e-mail comes to you collectively and formally from the six organisations listed at its foot. These are among the main progressive organisations in the fields of psychotherapy and counselling. Their combined memberships approach 4,000. This loose alliance has been active in a variety of contexts in the public sphere. In our ranks are leading thinkers and writers in the field, academics as well as practitioners.

In many circumstances, although containing members of BACP, UKCP and BPC, our organisations offer substantial critiques of current policies and thinking.

We do not consider it appropriate that the field of counselling and psychotherapy be swallowed up by the three organisations whose names have been mentioned – which is what will happen if they are allowed, in effect, to become co-terminous with an APPG. Many intellectual, ethical and clinical approaches to therapy are not adequately represented by those organisations.

We think that the way matters concerning the APPG are developing will, in many ways, constitute a deception of the public and, therefore, we ask you to initiate discussions on the composition of the APPG.

There is a risk that elements of the profession will have no alternative but to give an openly hostile reception, not so much to the ideas being put forward, but to their biased and prejudicial execution.

We would very much like to come and talk to you about all of this in the near future.

We would be delighted if you would consider holding or hosting an open discussion on these things.

Professor Andrew Samuels (for Alliance for Psychotherapy and Counselling)

Maria Albertsen (for Counsellors Together)

Bea Millar (Chair, Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility

Professor Ian Parker (President, College of Psychoanalysts)

Janet Tolan (Chair, The Person Centred Association)

Dr David Murphy (United Kingdom Person-Centred Experiential)

Lord Alderdice was clear that he knew nothing about this proposal:

“The first requirement of an All Party Parliamentary Group on Counselling and Psychotherapy (or any other APPG) is that there are sufficient parliamentarians from the two houses and the various parties who are interested to form such a group.  The Chair must be an MP, though it is possible to have an MP and a Peer as Co-Chairs, and the parliamentary members of the APPG can then invite whoever they wish to join them.  An APPG is not therefore the forum for convening organizations but rather an opportunity for interested parliamentarians to engage with people outside parliament who share an interest or concern and be informed by them.   APPGs are not committees of the parliament and have no role in legislation or other parliamentary business other than in informing parliamentarians.

“To date Baroness Tyler and I have responded to a request to meet with some psychotherapy representatives who asked if we would be prepared to take an interest in the establishment of such a group and we both agreed that it would be useful to promote greater understanding amongst parliamentarians of psychotherapy and counselling.  There was no indication, and had there been it would not have been accepted, that those who were making the request were seeking to exclude anyone or any organization, nor could they, since it would be for the parliamentarians on any APPG to decide with whom they wished to engage.  However, I specifically raised the range of approaches involved and pointed out that, for example, some parliamentarians were very interested in ‘Mindfulness’ training and would undoubtedly want that included.   We have not had any further meetings with anyone.

“The next stage, for those who wish the initiative to proceed, is the identification of other interested parliamentarians, and in particular an MP who is willing to Chair such an APPG.   To date, as far as I am aware, nothing has proceeded beyond that stage since no MP has yet expressed a commitment to act as Chair.  Since parliament will go into Recess later this month it seems to me unlikely that anything will move forward much before the autumn.   If/when it does, the first hurdle will be getting enough parliamentarians who are interested to be involved.  That is not a forgone conclusion.

“If an APPG is formed, it will then be for the parliamentarian officers of any new APPG to decide with whom they consult and with whom they engage.  If such an APPG is established, and if I am part of it, I will certainly pass on your wish to have a meeting, and I am sure that they will be more than happy to meet.   It would however be out of place for me to convene a meeting at this point since this would appear to be me taking the initiative in regard to a proposal from others.  However I am happy to undertake to write to you and your colleagues as soon as I am aware that enough parliamentary colleagues have demonstrated an interest and formed an APPG and at that point a meeting with whoever are the elected officers (MPs and Peers) would be appropriate.

“I am sorry that I cannot be more helpful but I think that you may have the impression that more has happened than is the case.”

(He also made his views clear via Twitter:

“The proposal for an All Party Parliamentary Group on Psychotherapy did not come from me, but if it proceeds and if I have any involvement in it, it will promote a range of psychotherapies – just as I did when I set up the Centre for Psychotherapy in Belfast many years ago.”

Our response to Lord Alderdice was as follows:

RESPONSE (02.07.19)

Dear John,

At the end of this reply to you, I will paste what was sent to all registrants of UKCP. I do not know if it was sent to BPC members and BPC registrants. It will explain the concern.

If you read it, you will see that the document contained (i) a proposal, (ii) a summary of the background, (iii) a provisional programme, and (iv) a list of ‘key proposed actions’. It also stated that BACP would provide the ‘secretariat’ for the proposed APPG.

Maybe you had not seen this document?

Anyway, this brief extract from your very kind and substantial e-mail is you at your open and pluralistic best and it will really help:

RESPONSE (02.07.19)

Thank you for your message. I had not seen the document and would not have agreed with it if I had. It is clear from the start that whoever wrote it did not understand what an APPG is about.

Kind regards,

John (Lord Alderdice)

The Alliance for Counselling and Psychotherapy, The College of Psychoanalysts, Counsellors Together UK, The Person Centered Association, PCSR, Psychotherapy and Counselling Union, United Kingdom Person-Centered Experiential wrote to the BACP, UKCP and BPC in response to the notice.

The following is a copy of the correspondence between these organisations and B3:


17th July 2019

Dear Chairs and Chief Executives of BACP, UKCP and BPC,

Following correspondence, including with yourselves, the seven organisations listed below request that you meet with us.

Together, we are, at present, the main stakeholders from within the fields of psychotherapy and counselling.

Our own organisations represent approximately 6,000 psychotherapists and counsellors and we feel that it is important to discuss the proposed All Party Parliamentary Group on psychotherapy and counselling before further approaches to MPs are made by yourselves.

It is clear that there are significant concerns about recent developments in the field of therapy, and a risk of conflicts and hostility between organisations and an erosion of trust in the professional bodies.

Hence, we are seeking dialogue between our organisations to avoid further damaging conflicts about the future of psychotherapy and counselling in the UK.

We look forward to hearing from you – with, we hope, a proposal for the kind of meeting we describe in this letter.

Richard Bagnall-Oakeley (Chair, Psychotherapy and Counselling Union)

Maria Albertsen (for Counsellors Together)

Bea Millar (Chair, Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility)

Dr David Murphy (United Kingdom Person-Centred Experiential)

Professor Ian Parker (President, College of Psychoanalysts)

Professor Andrew Samuels (Alliance for Counselling and Psychotherapy)

Janet Tolan (Chair, The Person Centred Association).


Dear Richard,                                                      

22nd July 2019

I’m writing on behalf of the three organisations (BACP, BPC and UKCP) about your request, from a range of organisations and individuals, to meet to discuss the idea of an APPG for counselling and psychotherapy.

Given the current unprecedented political climate and the impending summer break it seems highly unlikely there will be any developments for some months. As such there is very little we can say about the issue at the moment and suggest we see where we are in the autumn when there may be something to discuss.

APPGs are, of course, created by Parliamentarians and its membership is only Parliamentarians. There seems to have been some misunderstanding about this by some in the psychotherapy and counselling profession. If such a group were to be created it would then be for the Parliamentarians to engage with whoever they chose.

I hope this helps and suggest we pick the thread up in the autumn.

Yours sincerely,


Gary Fereday | Chief Executive | British Psychoanalytic Council


Dear Gary,                                                            

24th July 2019

Thank you for responding. We think it would be a constructive move if your attempts to find an MP or MPs to chair or spearhead the APPG were put on hold until all the organisations interested in this matter have had a chance to meet. Would your three organisations be agreeable to this request for a pause in activity?

In this way, we will stand a better chance of preserving the unity of the professions of psychotherapy and counselling.

Please let us know the thoughts of your member organisations.

Best wishes,

Richard Bagnall-Oakeley (Chair, Psychotherapy and Counselling Union)

Maria Albertsen (for Counsellors Together)

Bea Millar (Chair, Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility)

Dr David Murphy (United Kingdom Person-Centred Experiential)

Professor Ian Parker (President, College of Psychoanalysts)

Professor Andrew Samuels (Alliance for Counselling and Psychotherapy)

Janet Tolan (Chair, The Person Centred Association)

2nd September 2019

We have since heard from the PCU that the Chair of the UKCP has informed them that they are willing to meet with the Union but not with any of the other signatories.


APPG – All Party Parliamentary Group

BACP – British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy

UKCP – UK Council for Psychotherapy

BPC – British Psychoanalytic Council

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