Regulation: The Plot Thickens

November 2006

In order to understand better recent developments in the field of regulation, the following outline of the principal groups of players may be helpful.

At the top are the regulatory bodies of the state, including the Health Professions Council (HPC), and the Department of Health (DoH), which is the branch of government that will promote regulation. Then come those bodies, some of which claim to be professional bodies but which are in fact principally, if not exclusively, concerned with voluntary regulation of practitioners but whose aim is ultimately compulsory regulation. This grouping of organisations is known as the Partnership Group, which currently comprises, amongst others, UKCP and BACP and includes the British Psychological Society (BPS). Finally comes a group of other bodies with an interest in regulation which are not necessarily regulatory bodies and some of which might more accurately be described as predominantly professional bodies. This is known as the Regulation Reference Group. This grouping of organisations arose out of the research and review of the nature of the professions of counselling and psychotherapy, known as the mapping process, carried out jointly by UKCP and BACP under the direction of DoH just over a year ago. The College is a member of this Regulation Reference Group.

The College has secured this position without giving up the right to seriously challenge and question the whole idea of regulation by the state.

The College has always argued the position that, if there is to be state-regulation of the profession, HPC, as it is currently constituted, would not be a suitable regulator. The reasons for this are set out in several documents published on this website. The College has also taken the position that, if regulation by the state does come about, this should be achieved by a body which is specifically oriented towards the psychological therapies, rather than HPC, which is oriented towards professions ancillary to medicine. It is now clear that UKCP and BACP have come to a similar conclusion.

In November 2005, representatives of The College attended the initial meeting of the then newly-formed Regulation Reference Group. The meeting was addressed by Rosalind Mead from DoH, advocating the way forward towards state-regulation and has been reported on in an earlier item in Latest News.

Following this, in December 2005, The College submitted a response to the call for ideas in connection with what has become known as the Foster Review, about regulation of the professions seen by the DoH as ancillary to medicine, including the professions concerned with the psychological therapies.