The full story behind the UKCP accreditation suspension by the PSA: confessions of a Regulator

19 February 2016

It was interesting to belatedly learn that the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy’s (UKCP) accreditation with the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) was recently re-instated having been suspended by the PSA in November 2015. The PSA, the regulators’ regulator, had been forced to suspend the UKCP’s accredited register and impose conditions as an interim measure arising out of concerns that the “UKCP’s pace of action on previous recommendations did not give it sufficient confidence”.

Unsurprisingly, UKCP members have been asking the UCKP to explain why its accreditation was suspended. This prompted a confessional from the UKCP, posted on its website last Friday, together with an apology for the way that it had mishandled “the sensitivity of the situation”.

Whilst the confessional might have been cathartic for the UKCP, it did not explain why there had been such a delay in informing its members and the public about the suspension in the first place. The suspension took effect in November 2015 but nothing appeared on the UKCP website until 4 January 2016, the day before the PSA’s deadline for them to submit further information and rectify their processes.  A mere coincidence? Whilst it is reassuring to learn that the UKCP has committed to being more open and transparent in the future, it does not answer why it was not as forthcoming as it might have been on this occasion.
For those that still do not know the full story, the reasons that the PSA was concerned and determined to suspend the UKCPs accreditation were that the UKCP fell short of meeting the following key standards for accreditation:

  • Being committed to protecting the public; and
  • Inspiring public confidence

The UKCP updated its website on 12 February 2016 to confirm that accreditation had been reinstated, whilst also explaining what steps it has taken to address the concerns raised.

Many of the concerns raised by the PSA arose from the UCKP’s amendments to the November 2015 version of the Complaints and Conduct Process Rules (CCP Rules). Those amendments were the product of a lengthy consultation process which began as far back as 2013. Whilst the original plan was to finalise the new CCP Rules in July 2014, the new rules were in fact not implemented until October 2015, just one month before the reaccreditation deadline. One might speculate that the revised CCP Rules, having been delayed, were then pushed through by the UKCP in haste and with inadequate scrutiny.

We regularly sense that regulators lack any real appreciation of what it is like for professionals to be under investigation; and in so doing, often fail to demonstrate the compassion that is so badly needed. Without any sense of Schadenfreude, what if the accreditation process has given the UKCP a real life insight into what it is like to be investigated? Might investigated members see a greater degree of empathy from the UKCP? We hope so.

Given that the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC) and the UKCP are now said to be collaborating to promote the value and reputation of the profession, we might expect to learn shortly that the UKCP’s recent experience with the PSA has been shared amongst all of these newly accredited registers, to the benefit of the profession and the public alike. Would it be too much to also expect the BACP, whose consultation on amendments to their complaints adjudication process closed in October 2015, to take heed and not rush through the revised version in time for the March 2016 deadline of submission to the PSA, if the rules are not ready and fit for purpose?  If no lessons are learnt, one might begin to question the value of the Statement of Intent issued on 7 October 2015 and ask questions as to whether anyone is well served by having so many regulators.
If you are a psychotherapist and would like advice or representation to respond to a complaint, please contact Sian Jones. 

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