The old-fashioned notion of “good character” is due to make a comeback in the professional lives of UK therapists, according to a recent article. And the way “good character” is interpreted in present-day society means that nasty surprises are in store.
The UKCP’s sends copies of its magazine, The Psychotherapist, to registered psychotherapists, obviously. Less obviously, they make it publicly available online, so the previous link works without a login. Well done, UKCP!
The magazine itself is usually less well done, tending to contain a mixture of rather strange opinions about fringe therapies, and to reflect in-fighting between rival factions within the organization. I don’t think it presents an accurate picture of the organization to outsiders, because the people who have their heads down doing day-to-day psychotherapy are not generally the people who write the articles. As a source of thought-provoking ideas for professionals to argue about over a coffee, though, it’s OK.
The current Winter 2008-9 issue contains an article about professional conduct that all UK psychotherapists should read and worry about.
The writer, Tom Warnecke, seems to practise a variety of psychotherapies that I will simply describe as unusual, because I am not sure I know what they all mean. Nevertheless, his web site says the right things about trust and engagement between therapist and client, and this intriguing statement suggests that people may be worth more to him than theories:
I believe that a different therapy must be constructed for each client since each has a unique story.
The article looks at some implications of the handing over of professional registration for psychotherapists from the UKCP, an independent body, to the Health Professions Council (HPC), a quango that is only publicly accountable through other quangos.
When registration is handed over at some time in the near future, the HPC will apply criteria related to “good character” both to registered professionals and to students hoping to register when they qualify.
The article points our that “good character” is difficult to define in our society, where standards of personal behaviour depend on cultural context. Bureaucrats within the HPC, themselves protected from public criticism, will be within their rights to strike off the register practitioners who offend them.
Psychotherapists who are active in politics, who commit some minor criminal offence, or who become involved in any kind of civil dispute might suddenly find themselves without a career. Members of other professions that are already “regulated” by the HPC find themselves at risk in these ways at present. There are actual cases.
It’s too late, of course, to fret about any of this now. The deal with the bureaucrats has already been done. The UKCP has already given away its say. Well done, UKCP!