The second iteration of SCoPEd has arrived. Over the last week, representatives of our partnership organisations have studied the document and its accompanying methodology paper (both can be found here). Our partnership is agreed that the SCoPEd project remains an elitist, politically motivated misrepresentation of our profession. Our concerns focus on a number of areas:
a) Consultation: No consultation with members or the wider profession took place when the research was proposed. From the outset, this project has been controlled and run by BPC, UKCP and BACP. The ‘independent chair’ is a member of BPC. The impact of any subsequent consultation cannot influence the research processes and therefore is necessarily very limited. Additionally, the focus of the member consultation was very limited, and the new iteration shows that little has changed as a result of member views.
b) Methodology: The Roth and Pilling methodology chosen to conduct the research is very problematic for a number of reasons, as outlined by members of our partner organisation, the Alliance for Counselling and Psychotherapy here. Rather than engage with the critiques, the authors of the framework have simply decided they need to include a ‘clearer description’ of the methodology. We argue that the methodology is not misunderstood, it is unsuitable.
c) Language: The language changes in the new iteration amount to a demoralising tightening up of the false ‘objective’ language of the document. The pretence to be ‘evidence-based’, for example, has led to the replacement of designation of counsellor and psychotherapist roles with categories A, B and C, and, bizarrely, the promise that the designation of labels will be re-introduced at some future point. In our view this is effectively, if not intentionally dishonest.
d) Equality and Diversity: We are deeply concerned about the impact SCoPEd is likely to have on equality and diversity in the profession. Iteration one overtly stated that that only those who had undertaken UKCP or BPC approved training would meet the standards required for the ‘psychotherapist’ column. Iteration two promises a pathway to tier C for some BACP members in certain circumstances, almost all of which involve “an additional top up course which includes a mental health placement or familiarisation to become qualified at level 7 – which is the minimum standard for column C”. If you are not qualified to level 7, and if you cannot afford to undertake the additional training (or if you simply do not recognise a mental health placement/familiarisation as relevant to your work) you are unable to reach tier C. We argue that these requirements privilege those who can afford further training, disproportionately impacting therapists from marginalised groups and reducing diversity. This requirement also alienates those who feel that this training is not relevant to the work they undertake, impacting on autonomy and diversity of practice in the field. Furthermore BACP concede that “BACP does not have any mechanism for recognising [the route] currently, so if the framework were to be adopted, BACP would need to develop one.” – this suggests we are to trust BACP to develop fair an equitable routes for their members, with no indication how this might work. Members are being asked to comment on something which has not yet been defined.
Many of the competencies, for example “Ability to take an active role within the professional community locally and nationally”; “Ability to communicate about the harm caused by discriminatory practices and aim to reduce insensitivity to power differentials within therapeutic service provision, training and supervisory contexts” and “Ability to work therapeutically with ruptures or difficulties within the therapeutic relationship using critical awareness of and skills associated with ‘unconscious’ or ‘out of awareness’ processing” appear to bear no relevance to the top-up course required, and, we argue, are more likely to be developed through experience, practice and continuing professional development.
Additionally, it is impossible to move from tier A to tier B without 450 hours of practice. This consigns most newly qualified BACP members to unpaid work, due to the paucity of paid opportunities in organisational settings. Again, we argue that the framework does nothing to address the culture of unpaid work, and conversely increases the gap between wealthy and poor therapists by promoting expensive and inaccessible means to progress through the tiers.
The danger that PCP have already drawn attention to, and which is even more apparent in this reiteration of the model is that it keys into the anxieties of counsellors and psychotherapists about work prospects, but betrays their hopes that the three main registration bodies will advocate for them. Instead of support for the different kinds of work we do, and the flexible reflective way we engage with that work, is an even more rigid specification of ‘roles’ and ‘competencies’ that will restrict us.
e) Representation of Modalities: PCP brings together practitioners working with a number of different therapeutic frameworks, but is concerned that psychoanalytic concepts are privileged in the Scoped grid. Much as we value psychodynamic principles, the specification of ‘transference’ and ‘counter-transference’ to demarcate categories A, B and C, for example, will be alarming to those who do not work in the psychoanalytic tradition and to those who selectively borrow these or other concepts in the clinic. The BACP registrants, which include many practitioners who do not work psychoanalytically, will be disadvantaged, as will a significant number of UKCP registrants, while the BPC registrants will benefit from the use of these categories. The categories are neither ‘objective’ nor ‘evidence-based’, but again provoke the suspicion that a fourth category that we can name category D, the psychoanalysts, are prominent in driving this agenda. The addition of ‘out of awareness’ does not, in our view, mitigate these issues substantively. The three registration bodies are working together, but carving up territory instead helping practitioners whatever training tradition or modality they choose to specialise in. The tier C requirement for mental health placements, in our view, underlines this.
f) Regulation: It is clear to our partnership that the SCoPEd framework has been developed in order for the author organisations to gain influence in the event of statutory regulation. BACP have previously stated “What SCoPEd is doing is trying to prepare the landscape to enable us to respond in an informed way should statutory regulation appear on the agenda again”. This context makes it all the more concerning that PSA accredited professional bodies, including our partner organisation the National Counselling Society, and other interested parties have been pointedly excluded from discussions at the inception of the project. We do not recognise these three bodies as exclusive authorities to influence regulation and we will continue to stand for fair and equitable involvement for the whole profession in discussions about its future.
Over the coming weeks, our partner organisations will be involved in campaign work and continued challenge to this new iteration, both as individual organisations and collectively. We welcome the voices of our members and invite therapists everywhere to get involved in discussions about SCoPEd, respond to the work we are doing, and make your voices heard. Together we will protect our diverse profession from the injustice of false hierarchies.
Partners for Counselling and Psychotherapy are a partnership of fifteen organisations, with a combined membership of approximately 20,000 therapists, standing together to support the diverse range of good practice in the field. We are:
- Psychotherapy and Counselling Union (PCU)
- Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility (PCSR)
- Counsellors Together UK
- The Alliance for Counselling and Psychotherapy
- The Person Centred Association
- The College of Psychoanalysts
- UK Person Centred Experiential
- The National Counselling Society (NCS)
- A Disorder for Everyone
- Free Psychotherapy Network (FPN)
- Surviving Work
- Black, African and Asian Therapy Network (BAATN)
- Pink Therapy
- Independent Practitioners’ Network (IPN)