Petition Against Over-Regulation of Psychotherapy

A current issue of great importance to me. The background to this is the Government’s desire to promote CBT as the one valid talking therapy, impose a single definition of ‘mental health’ (which means working) and attack Incapacity and other benefits. It is Orwellian in the true sense of the word because it involves the State getting involved in definitions what it may mean for any individual to be mentally ‘well’ or not. But the petition itself explains it much, much better than I can. It is at…

The initial signatories are not just psycho-therapists but include artists and novelists.

I cut and paste the petition’s introduction below…

>>Under new government proposals, psychoanalysis and the talking therapies will be regulated by the State under the Health Professions Council. We the undersigned wish to register our protest and disagreement with this initiative. Psychoanalysis is a private conversation between adults, and the proposed regulations threaten to limit the basic human right to freedom of speech. Each individual should have the freedom to choose the therapist they wish to consult, without the State dictating who is legitimate and who is not.

The new proposals have shown a serious and bizarre misunderstanding of the nature of talking therapy. They see it as a definable technique to be applied with predictable outcomes. Yet the key to talking therapies is the nature of the relationship between the parties rather than the performance of any particular procedure. Analytic work involves an open-ended relationship, where results may emerge that were never predicted or even thought of beforehand. The proposed regulation leaves no room for the unknown, as if the solution to each person’s problems were known in advance: therapist and patient will be expected to adhere to a clear predetermined agenda. Government intervention thus threatens the very foundation of analytic work, compromising both its creativity and authenticity.

The new regulations proposed for the talking therapies – which include 451 rules for the analytic session – would effectively make it impossible to practice psychoanalysis and many other forms of therapy in the way they have been practiced for the last hundred years. The Health Professions Council plans a public campaign to discredit those practitioners whose own practice and ethical code would not allow them to sign up to its market-led vision of therapy and normality.

The main reason given for the regulatory project is protection of the public. Yet all analytic and therapy organisations already have stringent codes of ethics and practice, as well as complaints procedures. Replacing these with an inherently unsuited model of healthcare will destroy the growth and vitality of the field for both therapists and those who consult them. We urge an alternative model, like that adopted in other countries, where government intervention is limited to the requirement that all therapists join a register which is administered by an independent professional body, giving full details of their training and affiliations. This would enable members of the public to make their own informed choice rather than having politicians make it for them.

We urge everyone who cares about the preservation of the talking therapies to register their support by adding their name to this petition and by writing to their MP to call for an end to the HPC initiative.

Lisa Appignanesi, Jake Arnott, Homi Bhabha, Christopher Bollas, Alain de Botton, Rosie Boycott, Susie Boyt, Victor Burgin, Georgia Byng, Martin Creed, Tracey Emin, Sophie Fiennes, Bella Freud, Esther Freud, Peter Gabriel, Anya Gallaccio, Antony Gormley, John Gray, Christopher Hampton, Gary Hume, Lee Hall, Susan Hiller, Oliver James, Anish Kapoor, Beeban Kidron, Hari Kunzru, Hanif Kureishi, Darian Leader, Lucasta Miller, Phil Mollon, Andrew O’Hagan, Joseph O’Neill, Michael Nyman, Susie Orbach, Cornelia Parker, Adam Phillips, Jocelyn Pook, Marc Quinn, Will Self, Richard Sennett, Jonathan Sklar, Gillian Slovo, Ali Smith, Gavin Turk, Jane and Louise Wilson, Slavoj Zizek. <<

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