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Lawyers for six psychoanalytic organisations (Association for Group and Individual Psychotherapy, Association of Independent Psychotherapists, Centre for Freudian Analysis and Research, The College of Psychoanalysts-UK, The Guild of Psychotherapists, and The Philadelphia Association) have written to the HPC stating they will order a judicial review over the council’s ‘unlawful’ failure
Legal threat to HPC regulation
Lawyers for six psychoanalytic organisations (Association for Group and Individual Psychotherapy, Association of Independent Psychotherapists, Centre for Freudian Analysis and Research, The College of Psychoanalysts-UK, The Guild of Psychotherapists, and The Philadelphia Association) have written to the HPC stating they will order a judicial review over the council’s ‘unlawful’ failure to assess whether statutory regulation is necessary for Freudian and other psychodynamic psychotherapists.
London solicitors, Bindmans, have written to the HPC accusing it of an ‘ongoing’ failure in its legal duty to assess the best form of regulation for psychoanalysts, and which body should administer such regulation. ‘The HPC has attempted to leap over several stages in the statutory process. This is not lawful,’ wrote Bindmans in its letter to the HPC. The letter warns of a judicial review ‘if the HPC does not remedy these serious deficiencies.’ But HPC spokesperson Ebony Gayle said the HPC denies the allegations and ‘will vigorously defend its position’.
The six organisations argue there is no evidence that statutory registration prevents abusive therapists. ‘There is no solid research that conclusively demonstrates there’s a degree of malpractice by counsellors and psychotherapists that would warrant heavy-handed regulation by the HPC,’ said Professor Andrew Samuels of the Alliance for Counselling and Psychotherapy against State Regulation. ‘Nor is there either research or argument to show that such regulation lessens abuse.’
Psychoanalysts also fear skill ‘competencies’ drafted by the HPC will precipitate the end of British psychoanalysis. The competencies are overly medicalised and mechanistic, say psychoanalysts. ‘If you read the list of things we are supposed to be doing I will not be able to practise,’ said Darian Leader, a founder of the Centre for Freudian Analysis and Research. ‘Psychoanalysis will effectively be banned.’
Ten psychoanalyst organisations have also published a hard-hitting report detailing their opposition to statutory regulation. The Maresfield Report accuses the HPC of being overly bureaucratic and slow in its handling of complaints by patients of other health professionals. It also accuses the HPC of ‘conspiring to lie’ and ‘fabricating’ documents over how it has failed to consult psychoanalysts.
Psychoanalysts say that the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP), for example, handles complaints more sensitively and with a better response rate than the HPC. Whereas the HPC finds no case to answer in over 70 per cent of complaints, the UKCP finds no case to answer in 10 per cent. Psychoanalysts, who accept some form of regulation is needed, advocate a ‘disclosure’ system whereby therapists would be required to provide details of their qualifications to the public and to a central register. Failure to do so would be a criminal offence.
Ms Gayle said: ‘We refute the suggestion that the HPC has failed to undertake a proper assessment of the regulatory needs of this field and any suggestion that the consultation process has been narrow, biased or dishonest.’ She denied psychoanalysts would be banned. ‘But they will not be able to use the protected title of psychotherapist,’ she said. ‘When we set standards, we consult widely with stakeholders to ensure that the standards are set at an appropriate level for safe and effective practice and do not act as an unfair barrier to innovation or diversity.’
Read The Maresfield Report at www.psychoanalysis-cpuk.org/PDF/MaresfieldReport.pdf