Earlier this month, there was much talk in the media about the government’s new proposals to regulate all talking therapies, including psychotherapy. This would not just be for NHS-funded therapies, but they propose to regulate every therapist in the UK. The government would like the Health Professionals Council to govern all therapies. Many professional bodies say it will be unworkable and are furious at the plans. The College of Psychoanalysts said:
“Under proposed new government guidelines, most forms of psychoanalysis could become illegal.”
As Lord Alderdice (the NHS psychiatrist who introduced the private member’s bill for state regulation back in 2001) put it, any prescriptive code of skills or techniques is unlikely to be appropriate as the relationship between the 100,000 therapists in Britain and their clients is unique. Few therapists agree on anything, but one thing that is usually agreed upon is that one form of treatment is rarely correct and should be ‘imposed’. The reasons for looking into regulation are fair enough. Most therapists, including psychotherapists, take a complaint to their governing body seriously, however, many consumers are unsure of to whom they should complain if they have a query. It is certainly more difficult to regulate psychotherapy than other therapies such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) where it is a quick therapy, easy to teach and easy to evaluate (you are either cured of a phobia or not). Psychotherapy is much more difficult to regulate. The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy believes regulation in today’s society is essential.
“But, – says Philip Hodson, its chief spokesman, – we have been told that it will be regulated by the HPC and if that is the price of regulation then so be it. I understand the disquiet of therapists, but there are some who argue that there should never be regulation of talking therapists. It is as if we are some kind of super-profession, fit to be our own judge and jury.”