Letter from the College to Skills for Health

Marc Lyall
Skills for Health
Goldsmiths House
Broad Plain

8th July 2008
Dear Marc Lyall,

I am writing on behalf of The College of Psychoanalysts – UK to raise our concerns about the involvement of Skills for Health in the work of formulating competences and national occupational standards for what have been termed the psychological therapies. That project is, of course, a precursor to the proposed introduction of regulation by the state, via the Health Professions Council, as promoted by the government through the Department of Health. It seems clear that these proposals are intended to include the discipline of psychoanalysis with which The College is principally concerned.

We have had correspondence with you and, indeed, a very helpful meeting, with regard to the plans of SfH to set up the necessary project infrastructure, including the Strategy Group, as well as the National and Expert Reference Groups and, in particular, the Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Modality Working Group.

We have already voiced our concerns about the undemocratic and unrepresentatative manner in which all of these groups have so far been set up. Your recent disclosure to us, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, of documents relating to the setting up of these groups, has done nothing to alleviate our concerns about these matters. It is clear that there are considerable gaps in the disclosure of the documents that we are entitled to see. The content of some of the documents that have been disclosed gives rise to the most serious cause for concern.

I enclose a detailed document that lists the considerable gaps in disclosure which I will be asking, there, for you to address and deal with separately. I want, in this letter, to bring to your attention, in particular, the contents of only one of the documents so far disclosed. I am referring, here, to Peter Fonagy’s email to you of 17th February, concerning the composition of the Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Modality Working Group, in which Fonagy states the following in regard to The College:

The College of Psychoanalysts is a largely Lacanian organization (French psychoanalyst – Lacan – intellectual superhero but clinical and ethical problem, ultimately dismissed from the rank of the international psychoanalytic movement) with a mixture of other sub-groups and about 200 members belonging to the UKCP. It has to be represented because they are very vocal. You have appointed 2 members of the College of Psychoanalysts to the Working group (Atkinson and Barratt) – it [sic] think this is more then [sic] enough.

The Psychoanalytic consortium and Jason Wright are the same group. They are deeply opposed to and concerned about regulation. They do not have the same training standards as the British Psychoanalytic Council but would require regulation. So having two of them in there will be a challenge for Anthony. They are very much against evidence based practice and might try and sabotage the process. Let us hope not.