Saturday, October 29, 2011

Person-Centred Audio - Listen While You Browse!

If you look over to the right in the sidebar, you'll see the LISTEN WHILE YOU BROWSE section of our site. Here's some more information about our playlist:

TRACKS 1-4: Carl Rogers - Being Yourself (Audio Book) - first released as a 4 cassette series in June, 1977.

TRACK 5: A selection from Carl Rogers' Some Observations on the Organization of Personality - narrated by John Lescault.

TRACK 6: Don Goewey, author of Mystic Cool, discusses neuroplasticity (the brain’s ability to grow neurons) as it relates to stress, fear and addiction. Don gives an explanation of mirror neurons and their role in the social brain’s ability to learn from participating in support groups such as 12-Step programs. Don ends with some easy to use tips for healthy brain development using some tools he learned from his long time friend, psychologist Carl Rogers.

TRACK 7: Dr Wade Hannon – The Person Centered Approach in Counseling (talk with's Dr. Jill Nelson (both from North Dakota State University).

TRACK 8: Dr. Juergen Kriz on Self-Actualization and Person-Centred Psychotherapy - fascinating 3-way discussion with the brilliant person-centred systems theorist.

TRACK 9: Person-centered therapy - from the Social Work Podcast series, hosted by J.B. Singer (February 12, 2007).

TRACK 10: Carl Rogers - AHP Keynote Address from 1983 - Although it has had a major impact on culture, Humanistic Psychology has had too little impact on mainstream psychology.

TRACKS 11-12: Carl Rogers - AHP talk from 1974, Do We Need “A” Reality - Part 1 features Carl discussing social constructivist theory as a promising resource for learning and growth; Part 2 is a follow-up Q&A session.

TRACK 13: Carl Rogers - To Be the Self That Truly Is (1957) - citing Soren Kirkegaard, Carl discusses psychology and a meaningful life.

TRACKS 14-15: Carl Rogers - New World / New Person (22 February 1981) - Part 1 features Carl discussing a world in turmoil and travail – chaos, terrorism and confusion - and his predictions on how persons will be able to live in an uncertain future; Part 2 is a follow-up Q&A session.

TRACK 16: Maureen O'Hara - Carl Rogers Award Presentation Podcast: Psychological Literacy for Transformational Times. On August 18, 2007 Maureen received the Carl Rogers award for "outstanding contributions to the theory and practice of humanistic psychology" from the American Psychological Association's Division of Humanistic Psychology at the APA convention in San Francisco and delivered this presentation.

TRACK 17: Dr. Jeffrey Zeig, Director of the Milton Erickson Foundation (, architect of The Evolution of Psychotherapy Conferences (, and editor or author of more than 20 books (, tells his reminiscences about Carl Rogers.

TRACK 18: Dr. Ed Neukrug talks about an unexpected response from Carl Rogers when he asked him a question. Entitled: "Oh my God, he doesn't like me!"

TRACK 19: Dr. Howard (Howie) Kirschenbaum, well-known biographer of Carl Rogers, tells a story about the "second" Rogers-Skinner debate.

TRACK 20: Dr. Sam Gladding, Wake Forest University and the past-president of the American Counseling Association tells a story about "The Harder Side of Carl Rogers".

TRACK 21: Dr. Gay Swenson Barfield, co-founder with Carl Rogers and former Director of the Carl Rogers Peace Project, tells a story about Carl: "Where he Walks his Talk".

Saturday, September 11, 2010

New Person-Centred Forum

We'd like to invite you to join the new online community/forum:


A non-geographical & non-organisationally-aligned online community –
based on the principles of the Person-Centred Approach.

A place to give & receive support…
…discuss the Approach…
…share resources…
…and encounter one another in peace.

You need to register in order to view or post (or do anything, really).

Go to:

If you have any problems or queries, email us -
we'll do our best to help.

At the time of writing there are over 80 members - not bad going for only 3 weeks!

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Empathic Civilisation

Brilliant animation of an equally brilliant talk on empathy by Jeremy Rifkin. Thanks to Elizabeth Sarfaty for the link.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

The Trajectory Of The Non-Directive Paradigm

To all,

“We” in community at ADPCA in Rochester had a fight and I feel sad in the wake of it. I guess I was already sad and not up to the argument in the first place because I found in the course of it that I had no words with which to argue my point in the battle within what I believe has been a thirty, forty or fifty year war within the approach.

I haven’t really had my words for this ongoing fight since Barbara Brodley died. I more completely lost my words and my energy when my own mother died. I was trying to pick up my pieces when Nat died — he died about a month after I wrote an email about death to the ADPCA listserv — an email that had words but was incomprehensible.

I woke up this morning, the last day of a much needed vacation for me and Bert. We spent our vacation walking in forests (but sleeping in motels). So as I write (still to a far degree without my words) I see forest shadows with little sprinkles of sunshine, green moss, and mud, vermillion, yellow and white mushrooms, green leaves, pine needles, dying growth, stricken and dead trees, friendly chipmunks and endless mosquitoes.

So I woke up thinking about the ADPCA fight and about Carl Rogers.

To me Rogers’ theory has a trajectory that soars into the netherworlds of philosophy and post-modernism.

The 1959 theory statement is a crystalline work of art.

Embedded as it is in the Koch book with the Koch mission, the theory seems grounded in science (social science). But, within that chapter, Rogers states that we do not know what the far philosophical reaches of the statement will come to mean. The theory, in 1959, is crystalline, embedded as if in rock, with a symmetrical diagram no less. But the crystal is like coral reef — it is alive and moving, delicate and ephemeral like a snowflake, lost but not gone, but the moment has died, or is it dead? Is it particle or wave?

Is it a bird, a plane? It is certainly not Superman. It is as flickering as each of our capacity to experience the attitudinal conditions from moment to moment. But it is also in the cracks of our fatigue and prejudices — in our incongruence as well as our congruence.

So back to our war within the approach. How do we survive? Are we incapable of compromise and resolution? I say, yes, I am incapable even though I don’t want to fight. I think to myself thoughts like, “They” don’t understand Rogers, “they” don’t get the theory, “they” don’t register the trajectory of the theory. Particle and wave? With all of the space in the universe, doesn’t “it” have to be more wave than particle — or is it really all emptiness and death?

There’s a good bit of the rub. It’s with this death stuff. That’s what I’ve been learning these last three years since my deaths began. It’s a lot in all the stuff, the left-over papers and artifacts. The wonderful inheritances and solid treasures I can touch and feel strengthened by, filled within into a sense of my own landedness in my own power. But really all I’m left with is my own attachments and my own moods and fears.

So I woke up thinking about Rogers and that “they” don’t get the man the way I do (even though some of them actually knew and rubbed shoulders with him and I never did). But it’s not really about the man. It’s about the trajectory of a theory, of words, of an idea, of an example of how to be in constructive rather than destructive relationship with another. The idea did not start with Rogers, but he, with his words and ways and personal growth brought it to psychology (and to groups, and to all the helping professions, and the predatory professions, and to peace conferences) in a unique way. He brought us the glimmers and flickers of sunlight and photosynthesis within the darkness of entropy and the hope within relatedness. But entropy does not have to be dark, and relationship can be deadly.

My next thought was that Rogers’ did not have the energy to protect the wave trajectory of his theory. He didn’t feel he owned the theory, and the theory is about not controlling others, so it would be a theoretical lie to fight to protect the public clarity of the trajectory. And, after all, the essential ideas of the trajectory are older than Rogerian theory.

There are those who get the paradigm and want to preserve it within the mainstream. Those who want to band together for greater effectiveness and political/economic survival. This mission is real to them and who am I to badger and hinder them. Again, the rub. Rogers did not say before his death, as I might wish he had, — “Shut up, you over-active crusaders and self-serving revisionists. Don’t you see that you are on a slippery slope of snowflakes. If you do this and take that and use it, then our dreams are back to mud on the particles of old physics and you’ve obfuscated the trajectory of the life’s breath of the Person.” Maybe Rogers didn’t say it because it is all true. The life is in the mud, in the dust when the water is evaporated, or is it still in the air within the water?

At any rate he didn’t say something to arrest the march of the good soldiers who want to take the banner to the mountain and stake out some economic territory for the person-centered approach.

But the good soldiers are my mosquitoes. The flag of the person-centered approach does not, because it cannot, declare all the stars in my universe. It’s presence, like a billboard on the horizon where others see it, where some apparently hope it is maybe going to finally force the “mainstream” to recognize our entitlement to the territory we’ve claimed, and some apparently think the banner can represent the philosophy of person-centeredness. This rag of a flag that does not belong on my horizon, is blocking the trajectory of my personal truth and is an inaccurate representation of the trajectory of Rogerian theory. But that’s not true. I’m no more lasting than a mosquito and my personal truth just is, except when it isn’t.

Rogers is dead. My lament is for myself. For my own mosquito life and my wish to enjoy and bask in my flicker of sunshine and relationship to my world. How long is the shelf life of the packaging of an idea? Longer than my own capacity to experience its way of being within a single therapy session. Not true. The being is in the incongruence as well as in the congruence.

Both the base and the top of many columns in ancient Greece were decorated with the eternal circle of the egg and the sword. 0I0I0I0I0I0I0I

The moss and the chipmunks and Bert’s and my escape into greenness have helped me find some of my words.

The mosquitoes in Michigan’s upper peninsula were unrelenting but the chipmunks were more playfully “in relationship” with us.

Kathy (Moon)

Editor's Note: Thanks to Kathy Moon for her kind permission to reproduce this item (and for sharing the photographs too).

It first appeared as a post to the international listservs (email lists), which remain perhaps the best sources of discussion about the Person-Centred Approach.

There are three lists - PCINTL, NDSU-CCT-C-PCA and ADPCA - although membership and posting is to a great extent interchangeable.

They are not advertised publicly, but if anyone reading this is inspired to join these lists, please email for further details.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

BAPCA leads call for BACP to consult on regulation

The Future Of Counselling And Psychotherapy In The UK:

An open letter to the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP) calling for open consultation with the membership of BACP

Since our original post, this initiative has been modified somewhat, and now aims to reach out to all BACP members.

The letter requests that BACP consult with its membership regarding:

* Increasing BACP involvement in developing an alternative form of regulation to that offered by the Health Professions Council (HPC).

* Providing an Alternative Practitioner Accountability (APA) system for BACP practitioners who do not want/intend to register with HPC should the current process continue.

Open consultation with the membership on these issues will reveal the level of BACP membership support for and against regulation by HPC.

As over 80% of its membership voted against regulation by HPC, BAPCA initiated this request. However, it has been signed by practitioners of many modalities and so is from ‘Concerned Practitioners of Counselling & Psychotherapy’.

To add your signature, feedback, comments, or to contact the coordinators of the campaign, please send an email to If possible, please include your membership status with BACP.

[Post edited: 25 July 2010]

CPD Round-up

Apologies to recent visitors for the tumbleweed effect here at PCAyorks. I won't bore you with the reasons for the neglect over the last couple of months.

I have a few things I want to let you all know about, so without further ado here's a round-up of some events that are coming up which may be of interest:


A one day event at Hinsley Hall, Headingley, Leeds LS6 2BX
on Saturday 17th July 2010, 9am - 5pm

Network Meeting for practitioners involved in working with domestic violence/abuse, either with programmes for ‘perpetrators’ or with support services for victims, but can be a ‘taster’, or an opportunity for those who find the national events too far, too big or too expensive.

It will be a day of: networking, sharing ideas, small-scale workshops (led by us all), giving and receiving support, and generally helping to recharge batteries. Most of the workshop ideas will be decided at the opening session, but if you have requests, ideas or offers of workshops, we’d like to hear them in advance. All this for the cost of £35 per person for the day, which includes teas and coffees and a delicious lunch.

For more information, contact:
Pete Dominey, M: 07906 203063, E:
OR Simon Roe, M: 07986 783460, E:


Perspectives and Understanding
Keynote Address - Gill Wyatt
7th & 8th September 2010 at Nottingham University

The Centre for Trauma, Resilience and Growth invite you to attend this one day conference and a pre conference workshop. The conference features an open debate facilitated by Stephen Joseph with a panel consisting of Mick Cooper, Gill Wyatt, Pete Sanders, Rosanne Knox and will include audience participation. The event opens with a full day (7th) workshop focusing on practice experiences of relational depth and will be facilitated by Mick Cooper.

Our understanding of relational depth continues to grow with exciting developments and new questions emerging at every step. This conference provides an opportunity to become involved in the progress of a new field of enquiry as it unfolds. In addition to the keynote speech and open debate, the conference will feature a range of papers on theory and research presented by a variety of practitioners and researchers.

Feedback from delegates of last year’s conference was the atmosphere was friendly and inclusive, with the programme being both enjoyable and informative. The cost provides excellent value at £50 for the conference day and £30 for the workshop. Bookings can be made for either or both days although places are limited.

For further details, visit:

Telephone enquiries: 0115 951 5197.


A Project of the Center for Studies of the Person, La Jolla, California, USA
Person-Centred Self Discovery and Personal Growth.
26th September to 3rd October 2010
The Assembly House, Theatre Street, Norwich, Norfolk.

The La Jolla Program was developed and established in the United States by Carl Rogers and his colleagues in the 1970s. The Program provides an opportunity to explore personal and professional relationships in a Person-Centred community. It is an interactive experience, where participants may develop new levels of communication. Rogers believed that the intensive group experience could lead to deep and significant changes in persons, institutions, racial and international tensions and in the values and philosophies of mankind.

The Center for Studies of the Person is bringing the Program back to the UK for the second time this year at the request of previous participants, who have benefited from the opportunity that the Program provides.

The facilitator will be Will Stillwell, who was a colleague of Carl Rogers. He works in organisations as coach to individuals, facilitator to groups and mediator in conflict situations.

THE ASSEMBLY HOUSE is a Historic Grade 1 listed Georgian building in the centre of the medieval city of Norwich. Resident participants will be booked into B&B at a comfortable hotel nearby. Full details of accommodation will be will be sent nearer the time. Numbers are limited to 20, so early booking is advisable.

COST: Resident - £525 or £475 if paid in full by 19th July 2010. Includes B&B, lunch, dinner and coffees; Non-Resident - £300 includes lunch, dinner and coffees. A £50 deposit will secure a place.

For further details, please contact:
Kay Laurie, 30 Chestnut Court, Norwich, Norfolk NR2 1HB.
T: 01603 614766 E:


FACILITATE Certificate in Therapeutic Group Work,
Leadership and Facilitation.
October 2010 – March 2011 (Weekends)

The course is for people who have an understanding and experience of therapeutic (fundamental: person-centred) principles, and wish to extend into working with groups. You should have at least a Certificate in Counselling Skills or equivalent, and are likely to have a Diploma or be working towards it.

The course will help to train you to host and run groups in a variety of settings, including counselling skills /personal development courses, voluntary organisations, community groups, and groupwork involved in professional settings.

It will include academic /theoretical input (e.g. psychodynamic, transactional, the constituents of group dynamics etc) and one reflective assignment. It is, however, primarily an experiential course, with opportunities for each person to facilitate group sessions: doing it, as well as talking about doing it.

A FACILITATE Certificate in Therapeutic Group Work will be awarded on completion of the course, enabling 60 hours to be counted towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for those seeking accreditation, and for maintaining BACP/UKCP membership.

Tutors: Leslie Davidoff and Jean Clements
Venue: East Lancs Voluntary Resource Centre, 62/64 Yorkshire Street, Burnley BB11 3BT.
Dates: 5 weekends, one weekend a month October 2010 – March 2011
Times: 10.00am – 5.00pm (Saturdays and Sundays, 6 hours each day with lunchbreak - exact start and end times to be negotiated with the group)
Cost: On entry to course £270 / Or initial deposit of £140 and 4 monthly payments of £40 (total £300).

To enrol or for further information, contact:
T: 01282 690741, E:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Psy-Praxis - The Changing Context

I know this blog has been banging on about the regulation of counselling and psychotherapy issue a lot in recent times and this is not an apology for that.

Although the person-centred approach has influence and application in many fields, the majority of our current membership - and of BAPCA, the main membership body in the UK for the PCA - is training and/or working in the field of the talking therapies. And the proposed regulation of the counselling and psychotherapy professions by the Health Professions Council has the potential to influence the future of those professions and all practitioners within them.

For those wanting to keep on top of HPC/regulation-related issues, you should probably be making regular visits to the websites of the Alliance for Counselling & Psychotherapy and the HPC Watchdog blog -

and I would also recommend that you subscribe to receive 'Psy-Praxis – The Changing Context' reports by Janet Low.

If you are already on the mailing list of the Alliance, you might already be receiving messages from Janet Low PhD, whose main contribution to informing the debate consists in keeping a close eye on the functioning of the HPC and related bodies.

It always makes for fascinating reading.

For those unfamiliar with Psy-Praxis, I've uploaded the last 6 months' worth of her reports - here they are, most recent first:

PP50 - The Generic Standards
PP49 - The Mystery Of FTP
PP48 - Review Of First Quarter 2010
PP47 - Power
PP46 - Politics
PP44 - Education & Training Committee
PP43 - Post Confer Conference
PP42 - Prepping The Confer Conference
PP41 - Interview With Mind
PP40 - National Audit Of Psychological Therapies
PP37 - HPC Fudge Consultation Results
PP36 - Collapse of GSCC
PP35 - State Machinery: IAPT, NICE etc
PP34 - UKCP Election Results
PP33 - Anne Milton Meeting.

If you just want to grab them as a job lot, here's the zipped bundle.

Janet's email is on each of them - just drop her a line and ask to be added to the mailing list. Let her know you read about it here.

She would welcome contributions - most helpfully in the form of monitoring the HPC website, FTP (Fitness To Practise) hearings and other relevant developments.

Financial support for the 'project' would also be welcome - she attends a lot of meetings when she could be earning a living (she is registered as a practising analyst with the New Lacanian School (NLS) – but we won’t hold that against her). Here’s her website.

Hope you dip in - always worth reading.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Confused about regulation?

Many counsellors and psychotherapists are. Confused, that is, when it comes to this whole statutory regulation business. Don't be ashamed if you are too. Why exactly are we all banging on about it? And why are we opposed to it - or opposed to the Health Professions Council (HPC) imposing it upon us? What's the problem with the HPC?

I'm glad you asked. Here's a great piece by that Darian Leader bloke, which answers pretty much all of those questions. A couple of points he makes jar a little for us PCA folk (he is a psychoanalyst, after all), but he does hit the nail repeatedly on the head when it comes to all this stuff. Read on...

Problems with HPC
Since the 2007 White Paper, Trust, Assurance and Safety, the Department of Health has given the Health Professions Council the task of assessing the regulatory needs of the talking therapies and its own suitability to regulate them. This brief, however, was understood as an imperative to regulate, with a resultant neglect of representations from the field and no questioning of the suitability of its own regulatory framework.

The Health Professions Order states that any profession to be regulated by HPC “must cover a discrete area of activity displaying some homogeneity”. Counselling and psychotherapy constitute a diverse field and display little homogeneity. Many therapies do not consider themselves or advertise themselves as health professions. They focus on human relationships and not medical-style interventions with set outcomes or promises of cure. Unlike health professions, many therapies do not aim at removal of symptoms, but at an exploration of human life, understood in a variety of ways.

HPC has claimed recently that it is able to encompass relationship-based work, pointing to its apparently successful regulation of psychologists and arts therapists, yet there are very significant differences between these fields and our own, and there are many psychologists and arts therapists who feel that their work has already been compromised by HPC. Crucial to our work is the way in which elements from early life may be re-enacted in the therapy, and the long process of exploring this is generally not shared by these other fields.

The consultation process initiated by the Department of Health was intended to assess the feasibility and suitability of state regulation through dialogue with all of the professional field. However, the consultation process became monopolised by a small number of people with a narrow view of talking therapy. This reliance on a small number of people with a set agenda has created the illusion that counselling and psychotherapy are a homogenous field. It has also meant the wholesale exclusion of professional groups and user groups, despite initial inclusion in draft documents.

The key issue in the regulation debate has been protection of the public. Therapists accept that their clients need the highest possible form of protection from inadequate and unethical practitioners. No therapy organization or individual has argued against this principle. Indeed, therapists have consistently been open and active to strengthen the effectiveness of their current systems by all reasonable means. However, there is no research based evidence suggesting that the client-group here is in the degree of danger that would justify being forced into a type of regulation that, in many respects, is unsuitable and unworkable for current professional practices.

HPC complaints procedures are formal and adversarial. Most complaints in the field of the talking therapies are resolved by informal process and mediation. HPC gives no place to these processes, and thereby risks alienating potential complainants who do not wish to enter into such formal procedures, held in public with none of the confidentiality that a hearing may require. It also lacks the expertise to deal with the complexity of complaints in this field. Note that HPC reject more than 70% of complaints from the public as 'no case to answer' compared to around 10% in the main therapy organisations. As HPC states on its website, if they don't think a complaint will have a clear outcome, they won't hear the case, in contrast to the acceptance of complex complaints by therapy organisations.

HPC focus on two central issues regarding protection of the public: that any unscrupulous individual may set up a brass plate advertising their services as a therapist, and that, once struck off by a professional body, a therapist can simply continue to practise independently. Yet neither of these concerns is addressed by HPC regulation. HPC regulate professional titles not functions, so as long as the individual does not use a title protected by HPC, they can set up shop through use of any unprotected title: life coach, mentor, therapist, lifestyle consultant etc. Other models of regulation used abroad are much more effective, yet to date HPC have refused to examine them.

The HPC brings with it mechanisms that may be suitable for professions allied to medicine, but which threaten the survival of the very essence of psychotherapy. Therapy is forced into a one-size-fits-all model of healthcare intervention, with its focus on outcomes and protocol-based procedures. By marginalizing and even making illegal those forms of therapy which follow a different model, HPC regulation would deprive the public of their free choice of which therapists to consult.

The Regulation Debate
The field of counseling and psychotherapy in the UK is rich and diverse, with several hundred different schools and orientations. Approaches to therapy differ enormously: some therapies focus on symptom-relief, some specifically avoid this; some aim at insight into unconscious phantasies, some reject the very notion of an unconscious; some try to bolster a patient’s belief-system, some to undermine it; some encourage physical warmth, some proscribe this; some aim to get patients back to work, some do not. The range of practices is extraordinarily wide, and the public benefits from a choice as to this range of different approaches.

Since the early 1970s, the field has organized itself into a small number of umbrella organizations - UKCP, BACP, BPC - which have worked progressively on codes of ethics, practice and complaints procedures. There have been various attempts over the years to add a statutory framework to the field’s own set of procedures, yet these have been consistently ignored or rejected by government. Nearly every practitioner currently working in the UK belongs to a professional association with codes of ethics, practice and complaints procedures, which is inspected periodically by its umbrella organization. These codes were found by the UKCP-BACP mapping project, funded by the Department of Health, to fulfill or exceed HPC requirements.

This situation has not been especially controversial, yet calls for statutory regulation have been made by some therapists and lay people for the following reasons: there is nothing to stop any untrained person setting up a brass plate calling themselves a therapist; if a therapist is expelled from their professional organisation, there is nothing to stop them continuing to practice elsewhere; there are a small number of therapists who do not belong to any organisation and so are not subject to any agreed codes of ethics, practice and complaints procedures. These three factors are deemed to represent a significant risk to the public, which is the main reason given for statutory regulation.

The scare stories circulated to the media by HPC and by Witness, an advocacy group that the HPC has worked closely with and that is largely funded by the DoH, serve to inflate the risks involved and confuse the relevant issues. No therapy organization in the UK to date has shown any opposition to regulation. The question for them is whether HPC regulation is the best way to deal with these issues of protection of the public. HPC regulates professional titles, so if it regulated the title ‘psychotherapist’, it would be illegal for anyone to use this title without being HPC-registered. Likewise, being struck off the HPC register would make it illegal for someone to continue to offer their services as a psychotherapist. This seems to solve the issue of public protection, yet HPC regulation in fact fails to do so since the practitioner may simply set up shop using another title not regulated by HPC: life coach, therapist, life skills advisor, mentor etc. It thus fails to deal with the brass plate argument or the practicing after expulsion issue.

Even if it were to close these loopholes by regulating functions and not simply titles, HPC regulation poses a number of very serious problems to the field of the talking therapies. It subscribes to outcome-based notions of health and wellbeing which are rejected by many schools of therapy, as well as redefining the actual concept of therapy itself. Therapy is defined as the correction of developmental and psychological dysfunction via the application of a set of techniques to the patient. Yet many schools of therapy see their work as totally opposed to this model based on the health/illness framework. For them, therapy is a joint work, a collaborative effort to explore human life, with no manifest aims to ‘correct’ dysfunction or promote health.

The very notions of health, wellbeing, normality and dysfunction are rejected by many schools of therapy. These schools of therapy have a tradition of social critique, and distance themselves from the contemporary industry of ‘wellbeing’. Terms like ‘health’ and ‘wellbeing’, they argue, often carry a political agenda in any given society, and the work of therapy has to go beyond them. Psychoanalysis, for example, has always aimed to subvert received forms of knowledge, and hence the current objection from most of the UK’s psychoanalytic groups to subsume analysis into a framework which is based on received forms of knowledge and power.

Given that the notions of health, wellbeing and illness run through HPC regulations, and influence its requirements regarding education and training, conduct, performance and the hearing of complaints, they naturally see HPC as unsuited to regulate their work. To construe therapy as a set of techniques to be applied to a patient, rather than as a relationship, an ongoing work between two people which can have no predictable outcomes or set goals, is to misunderstand its basic principles and ethics. HPC has redefined therapy though a medical lens which is not appropriate to the relationship-based paradigm of analysis and many therapies.

HPC uses a model of health professions as service industries: a client pays an expert for a service, which they deliver. But for many schools of therapy, the service is actually provided by the patient. Like an artist’s studio, the therapist provides a space where the patient can create something, following their own rhythm and logic. Therapy is thus not about the performance of any procedure. No outcome can be predicted in advance and so, contrary to the service industries, it is not self-evident what product the patient is paying for. This inherently risky work is clearly not served by pretending that its results and procedures are clear, predictable and transparent.

So where medical interventions may involve set outcomes which the patient could complain about if not achieved, many therapies are about the open-ended work done not by the therapist but by the patient. One could visit a therapist’s office for years and not actually be doing a therapy, in the sense of being authentically engaged in an activity of self-exploration. Therapy, for many schools, is about what the patient manages to invent and construct in their encounters with the therapist, who does not apply the kind of protocol-based procedure envisaged by HPC.

Likewise, some schools of analysis and therapy hold that patterns of thought and behaviour that produce suffering in the patient derive from childhood responses to what is unknown and unpredictable in their caregivers. The compulsion to please others, for example, may have its roots in interactions with an erratic and unpredictable parent. Therapy will play out this situation, so that the therapist may behave in an erratic and unpredictable way, allowing an access to the process by which the patient’ patterns of response were established. HPC’s emphasis on clarity of communication and behaviour may fit a small group of therapies, but cannot subsume this latter model.

Many clinicians who do not subscribe to the healthcare model see their work as an exploration of the human condition, a journey in the same sense that becoming a Buddhist monk involves a long process of questioning one's life, ideals and expectations. Like a Buddhist training, this long process of psychotherapy cannot be identified with a set of techniques or procedures to be applied to a human being, but forms rather a strange kind of relationship which operates in unpredictable and unexpected ways. One cannot know what will happen in advance, and change often takes place through surprise, bafflement, shock and disappointment. HPC regulates professions within a framework which explicitly aims to remove these variables, and so it cannot accommodate those therapies which give a valued and central place to risk, shock and disappointment, seen as tools of growth and development. With HPC, will therapists really continue to challenge their patients or, fearing complaint, will they little by little change the way that they work?

A further and critical reason for the unsuitability of HPC as regulator lies in the field of ethics. Psychotherapy has, for the last 100 years, offered the patient a system of values freed from the moral judgments of social authorities. This has indisputably been the central characteristic of psychotherapy and what set it aside from the mental hygiene movement and from techniques of social engineering. Therapy provides a space for challenging received wisdom, social imperatives and norms of all kinds. Yet HPC regulation, for many schools of therapy, would involve the wholesale application of such norms to the therapeutic encounter. The therapist would have to become a ‘health professional’, whose practice must adhere to a moralistic and normative framework. Failing this, the practitioner would be struck off.

This tension between psychotherapeutic ethics and social morals is a crucial issue, yet it must not be misunderstood to suggest that therapists see their work as somehow beyond the law. All therapy organisations agree that rigorous codes of ethics and conduct must be in place, as well as complaints procedures. In the event of any instance of sexual assault or financial fraud, the criminal justice system should be appealed to. In line with international practice, in other cases, mediation and informal resolution of complaints are the first step, rather than automatic escalation of a complaint to the level of litigation.

For some critics of traditional models of regulation, mediation and informal resolution are a profession’s way of avoiding responsibility for mistakes and misconduct. Yet escalation to the level of litigation and formal complaint may constitute barriers to real resolution of issues for those working within a non-healthcare model. For those therapies that are relationship-based, the parallel is less with HPC-regulated disciplines such as radiology or physiotherapy than with the introduction, encouraged by government, of mediation procedures as a first step when the divorce of a married couple is considered. Although this might seem surprising, it reflects more accurately the kind of problems some patients may experience in therapy - which, for many schools, is about re-living problematic relationships from the past – than the model of a failed medical intervention.