A few days ago someone commented on an old post here. Actually, they’re all old posts now 😦 Anyway, it was a reminder to me that this place still exists, so I thought I might bring things up to date a little.
One of my occasional sources of inspiration, back in the day, was a private online discussion amongst CBT therapists that I referred to obliquely from time to time. Even those few oblique references were noticed, and there was briefly some speculation about my identity in the private discussion.
That online discussion, which no longer exists, was in fact a mailing list run by JISCM@il, the National Academic Mailing List Service, which hosts thousands of mailing lists for academic communities in the UK. The list was always referred to within the BABCP simply as JISCMail, as if they owned it.
JISCMail was private in theory but very easy to hack into, which is why I never revealed its location. Even so, spammers occasionally found it. How many unauthorized people read it can never be known.
The JISCMail list never had much activity, considering the many thousands of members of the BABCP, but it ticked along nicely with something interesting to read every week on the main list. There were some subsidiary lists that were barely used at all.
The reason the BABCP’s JISCMail list no longer exists is that a member used the phrase “sweet cheeks” in what I took at the time to be a mildly humorous post. I thought nothing of it.
Perhaps thinking nothing of it was just due to my ignorance. I didn’t look the phrase up in Urban Dictionary, otherwise I might have thought differently.
However, another member took offence at the phrase and made a formal complaint. The academics who run the BABCP went into a flat spin and pulled the plug on the mailing lists. The member who used the phrase in the first place was elected to the Board of the BABCP on a protest vote, but the lists weren’t reinstated.
Just as the mailing lists disappeared, some other members set up a private discussion forum to replace them, calling it CBT Discussion. Although the discussion and membership of the site are private, and it’s not easy to hack into, its statistics are strangely public.
The statistics show that the forum seems to be quite well supported, with just over a thousand members, but discussion there never really took off and has since flatlined. The BABCP never endorsed it, and some of its members complained that it wasn’t a mailing list like JISCMail.
In June the BABCP put their own discussion forum in place, calling it CBT Café. CBT Café gets around the problem of security by having none — it’s completely public!
Because anyone can join, and anyone can read it without even joining, the forum quickly attracted spammers. They advertise a variety of products there in a variety of languages. The latest offer is “Sexy corset and lingerie which you like?”. Wait…maybe that’s a genuine BABCP member’s sideline. Hmmm…confusing.
BABCP members have been slow to understand that if anyone can use the forum to advertise their wares, anyone can also read what therapists discuss with one another. Indeed, anyone can give advice to therapists on how they conduct their work, although I haven’t seen that happen yet.
CBT Café is allegedly moderated, so that any posts that cause offence can be removed without sending Board members into another flat spin. The phrase “sweet cheeks” appeared early in July without causing any reaction at all from members or from the alleged moderators.
However, business in the Café is decidedly slow, with only twenty genuine posts in the last two weeks (and nearly as much spam). To get as many as twenty I included the posts that discuss the slowness of business in the Café. More than one serious question about CBT has gone unanswered. Practically no one wants to discuss CBT.
The academics who run the BABCP seem to have created an atmosphere of fear by their random over-reaction to the complaint about JISCMail. In that atmosphere, members fear for their careers if they get on the wrong side of an apparently irrational and uncontrolled complaints system.
In a bizarre twist, the latest controversy in the Café is a complaint that a very distinguished American CBT therapist and author, Christine Padesky, tried to use it to advertise some European venues where she will be speaking. The BABCP named Padesky “Most Influential International CBT Researcher/Practitioner” in 2002, and knowing where she will be speaking on this side of the pond in the near future is one of the more interesting pieces of news I’ve seen in the Café so far.
Considering that the BABCP exists for no other effective reason than to promote money-making academic training courses, and that nearly half the recent content of the Café is spam, I found the complaint mind-boggling.
Maybe I should get these things off my chest by writing a blog, or something.