A secret lunch party in London next month could shape the future of CBT in the UK…
…but it probably won’t.
Now that the UKCP has shot itself in the foot by arranging for a quango to take over its main role of providing a central register for all psychotherapists in the UK, it is hopping around trying to find other work.
The BABCP (the UK’s main CBT organization) had been a member of the UKCP. Recently, it took advantage of the UKCP’s weak position and pulled out. This is very unfortunate for the UKCP, because CBT is the most favoured of all the types of psychotherapy at the moment, and the NHS is pouring money into CBT.
The UKCP’s latest idea is to form a College of Cognitive Therapy that would presumably accredit CBT therapists in competition with the BABCP. The BABCP’s own accreditation scheme is much better established.
Both organizations, however, have important weaknesses.
The UKCP suffers from being dominated by psychologists (the BPS) and counsellors (the BACP). This is a drawback because the money is in psychotherapy (treating mental illness) these days, not in psychology or counselling.
Also, many of the psychotherapists in the UKCP are only trained in various forms of psychodynamic techniques (or worse), not in CBT. The current Chairman of the UKCP, James Gray Antrican, from whom the invitation to lunch comes, is one of these.
So the UKCP’s strategy has been to promote the idea that all its members, psychologists and counsellors included, are psychotherapists, placing emphasis on whether individual therapists are registered or not.
The implication is that all psychotherapists on the UKCP’s register are equally effective, which is quite untrue. This is a huge weakness in the UKCP’s story.
The BABCP suffers from being dominated by behavioural therapists. This is a drawback because behavioural therapies are fragmented and don’t work as well as CBT.
The BABCP’s current president, Prof. John Taylor, is an eminent clinical and forensic psychologist who does not even seem to be accredited as a psychotherapist, either by the BABCP or the BPS.
So the BABCP’s strategy has been to promote the idea that all psychotherapists on its CBT Register can do CBT, which is quite untrue and a huge weakness in the BABCP’s story.
(As an aside, I promote the CBT Register because I believe it is useful and convenient despite its imperfections, but if something better came along I would certainly change that.)
If the UKCP can use its secret lunch party to found a College of Cognitive Therapy that genuinely captures the high ground, creating a new register of therapists that accurately reflects skill in CBT, it could win the game.
It would be easy to discredit the BABCP and its CBT Register because of their association with behavioural therapies (and with other weirdness such as EMDR).
On the other hand, if the UKCP does that it will annoy government officials and others in the NHS and in the IAPT programme, who want relatively unskilled therapists to be trusted by the public as “state registered psychotherapists” providing CBT.
And if the UKCP does that it will also annoy its own influential psychologist and counsellor members, some of whom want to be able to claim they can do CBT without necessarily having the skills.
So it seems to me that the most likely outcome will be a way to preserve the status quo, allowing the UKCP to save face by including a few CBT therapists, but without actually trying to address either its own or the BABCP’s weaknesses.
See you for lunch? Perhaps some other time.