Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Regulation Round-up - Judicial Review

Just arrived in the PCAyorks inbox is the following, from Darian Leader, updating us all on progress with the judicial review.

You know - the judicial review that is challenging the HPC's fitness to regulate those of us who use the title counsellor or psychotherapist.

Read on:

The judicial review of HPC is now in its first stage. Documents prepared by Dinah Rose QC and John Halford of Bindmans have been sent to the High Court which point to problems with the HPC's actions to date. It had been charged with assessing the regulatory needs of counselling and psychotherapy and whether its own system was capable of accommodating this field, yet proceeded as if this was a foregone conclusion. Despite stating several times unequivocally that it had not made any attempt to study these questions, HPC could then write to the Department of Health in December 2009 claiming that it had in fact done so. Attempts to query this contradiction proved fruitless.

The JR papers discuss and document this, as well as other major failures in the process, which indicate that the HPC did not approach its work in a rational or fair way. Alternative models of regulation were not given proper consideration despite being repeatedly brought to HPC's attention. Key questions about the nature of the talking therapies were ignored, and hardly any of the HPC's criteria for regulating professions, such as homogeneity of knowledge base or practice, are applicable to our highly diverse field.

The first set of documents will now be scrutinised by the courts. The instructing organisations are The Association for Group and Individual Psychotherapy, The Association of Independent Psychotherapists, The Centre for Freudian Analysis and Research, The College of Psychoanalysts-UK, The Guild of Psychotherapists and The Philadelphia Association. Funding of the review has been made possible by contributions from thousands of therapists and members of the public who feel strongly about the issue.

Significantly, the Department of Health has now said that it will await the outcome of the judicial review before acting on the HPC's recommendations and that it is exploring alternative models of regulation. This is an important decision, as until now the DoH has simply stated that it will regulate the talking therapies via HPC, and the HPC itself has refused to discuss alternative models of regulation. The fact that other models will now be studied is real progress, and we hope that the DoH will work with our organisations and examine the models used in other countries, where regulatory arrangements have been arrived at that are satisfactory to both government and the field itself.

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