Regulation Update 2012

In many ways, the job of regulating psychotherapists has been taken out of the HPC’s hands (at the very least for the time being). Early on in 2011, the government released a command paper stating that HPC statutory regulation of psychotherapists was now off the cards, (unless in the future it could be shown that psychotherapists are a danger to the public); they obviously did not feel that psychotherapy is a sufficient threat to warrant statutory regulation. Ironically, the government charged the existing regulator of the HPC (Centre for Health Regulatory Excellence, CHRE; to be renamed the Professional Standards Authority, PSA), to be set up as an approver of voluntary registers of psychotherapists (i.e. UKCP, BACP, etc). There would be no compulsion to join these registers. However, if one became part of a voluntary register, one would be kite-marked, much like plumbers are kite-marked as Corgi registered plumbers.

With these voluntary registers, there would be no legal protection of title as would have occurred under statutory regulation by the HPC. This has been called light touch regulation, and many feel it would be a good system, whereby the way we practice psychotherapy/psychoanalysis would not be adversely affected as it would under the HPC (e.g., fitness to practice hearings, adhering to medico-scientific paradigms of mental distress, etc.).

What is of concern to some practitioners is the standards the PSA will set the UKCP (and other organisations) to be kite-marked. Also of concern is that the government has allowed the possibility for the HPC to set up its own voluntary register for psychotherapists, believing that competition between voluntary registers would be healthy. In such circumstances the HPC coulddisseminate propaganda that its register is superior to the PSA register, and the NHS for example may choose to employ HPC voluntary registered psychotherapists as opposed to PSA voluntary registered practitioners. It is unclear how this would stand legally, but it may be a difficulty on the horizon.

The planning and organisation of what the PSA voluntary registers will entail is still very much in the consultancy and planning phase. Recently (November 2011) a consultation document was published by the CHRE outlining plans for the voluntary registers, which it is hoped will be launched in July 2012. You can access the paper here:

Here are some excerpts from the consultation document:

The aim of the Professional Standards Authority’s accreditation scheme is to enhance public confidence in unregulated health and care occupations by creating a reliable and effective assurance scheme for voluntary registers, promoting quality in education and training, registration, and standards of conduct.