I’d like to thank both Erin Stevens (proposer) and Tara Shennan (seconder) for the courage and sheer passion they showed whilst submitting the scrap SCoPEd resolution in the 2019 BACP member motions and resolutions process.
Sadly, on this occasion, the resolution wasn’t upheld – not for the effort and determination shown by both Erin and Tara, but for the simple lack of engagement by the overall BACP membership.
However, I think at this stage in the process it is fair that we question several aspects of the motions and resolution process.
Firstly, BACP requires 5% of members to vote on any resolution for it to be upheld. Up until this year, we don’t believe that BACP (we have asked them to confirm and are awaiting an answer), have ever had 5% of members turn out to vote for this process. CTUK complained to BACP last year when they’d changed the voting process without any consultation with its members. You can read more about this here.
Secondly, I question the effort made by BACP to engage with the membership and encourage them to vote. Whilst we agree that it is essentially up to BACP members to keep updated about what is happening within their membership body, it is also the responsibility of BACP to keep their members informed. We believe that BACP sent one email to members to open the voting process, with no further encouragement to vote, aside from a few social media postings. This isn’t good enough. Many members don’t access email or use social media.
In this year’s voting process, a record high of 2552 people voted, equating to 5.1% of the BACP membership. In total 1780 people voted in support of the scrap SCoPEd resolution, and 772 people didn’t vote for it, or didn’t vote against it. This means that, although the scrap SCoPEd resolution gained 69.58% of the total number of votes, it was denied an opportunity to make it to the next stage of voting at the AGM. If we look at the historical voting figures within the BACP for motions and resolutions, they indicate that 5% is unattainable. That obviously means it is an unfair process.
Here at CTUK we are aware that many BACP members didn’t know about the SCoPEd project or the motions and resolutions process, right up until the closing day of voting. This included students and staff on BACP accreditation training courses.
At CTUK we feel that there are a number of changes BACP could make to encourage membership engagement and to allow members to have a wider voice within BACP.
- Member engagement. BACP should aim to put more effort into encouraging their members to engage in the AGM motions and resolution process. They could do this by putting more effort into a pre launch campaign. This should include a letter in the post to each BACP member stating when the process will open for submission, and a follow up letter stating the submissions received and exactly how and when members can vote.
- BACP should refrain from telling members how to vote for the motions and resolutions which have been submitted, and allow members to reach their own conclusions.
- BACP should open up their collaborations wider than the UKCP and BPC. They should engage with other membership bodies and organisations who represent the counselling and psychotherapy professions.
- BACP should take note of and respond to the letter they received from the Psychotherapy and Counselling Union (PCU) regarding the bullying that Erin was subject to within the online forums and BACP should put measures in place to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.
- BACP should consider the establishment of a Members Council – an elected group of Counsellors/psychotherapists who work closely with the board to represent members and to hold the board accountable, NOT overseen by board members, but independent of board members influence.
I shall end on two points.
Firstly, I feel we have witnessed an uprise in a group of therapists who are activists. A group of therapists who are prepared to put their heads above the parapet, because of their belief in and for the rights of therapists, clients and the profession they so dearly love. A noise is being made, and a noise so loud that no membership body can claim not to hear.
Secondly, it wouldn’t be right of me to end this without mentioning the many individuals and groups who spoke out and supported the scrap SCoPEd resolution, and both Erin and Tara. These include the PCSR (Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility), The Alliance for Counselling and Psychotherapy, PCU, United Kingdom Person-Centred Experiential, CTUK admin, plus the brave and dedicated individual therapists who have written papers and spoken out, encouraging a much needed debate.
Long may we continue to challenge the status quo, together.
On behalf of Counsellors Together UK