False hierarchies in modalities
I can see the rationale for trying to represent the different types of study, which differ in both length and academic depth. This is can be as confusing to people trying to enter the counselling field as it is to employers who are untrained and wanting to develop a counselling service. Our sector is so varied and also without some of the traditional progression through academic levels that other sectors have. However, there are a few problems with SCoPeD’s approach:
The distinction shouldn’t be between the modalities. These are age-old debates and it is difficult see how this can be said to be forward thinking when it is rehashing a debate that was had, and supposedly resolved, ten years ago. Our status in relation to each other (whether it be counselling and psychotherapy, or counselling and any other modality) is not a political bargaining tool for membership bodies to manoeuvre as they sit fit in order to gain or retain power.
If this framework was truly developed to aide in employer clarity, it may be more appropriate to approach the framework by looking at what an employer would be searching for in terms of job roles and managerial structures. For example: Counsellor – Lead Counsellor – Supervisor – Manager and Service Lead. This provides a generic entry point but also provides the opportunity to provide guidance on the competencies within each level. It moves away from individual competencies and modality differentiations, and towards role expectations. Such a framework could also open up discussions on appropriate salary expectations for each level/banding.
The appropriation of the medical model
Why? Why is this needed and what is the rationale for embracing a model which clients and other medical professionals within the mental health sector increasingly find to be oppressive and abusive? Why would we want to move towards the medicalisation of distress at the very moment there is a big movement away from it?
Our role within the sector can be influential without us having to adopt an oppressive system. We have a relatively unparalleled position of privilege within therapeutic services,if we are willing to embrace it. As counsellors we can explore the meanings and implications of diagnosis with our clients. We are in a position where we can discuss critical issues surrounding diagnosis without the pressures of needing to make a diagnosis ourselves. This can be an important factor in helping clients feel like an equal contributor to their own carein ways which are difficult to replicate elsewhere – diagnosis can be a gateway to services or an act which closes down therapeutic input. Many clients come to us having already been oppressed, punished or otherwise mishandled by this labelling system. We are free to allow a safe and open space for discussion so why are we trying to remove that privilege? Why are we trying to fall in line with a failing system?
The framework does not align with the competencies which are outlined in the BACP’s own ethical framework, nor with the competencies of those qualifying. CTUK’s consultation on the framework criteria found some areas of agreement in skills not attained at the point of qualification, but overwhelmingly, the framework downgraded professionals. In some cases, the expectations of qualified counsellors were completely unrealistic. Counsellors with many years’ experience and who may also be supervisors, needing to confirm with their own supervisor that they are competent to take on a new client. For every client enquiry. All of this unnecessary work because they have chosen not to go through the voluntary accreditation process.
The list of competencies is so downgraded that it is impossible to demonstrate how any trainee could or would be fit to practice with real clients whilst still in training. Employers and stakeholders should really be paying attention to this point because it basically prevents any student placement from ever happening on the grounds of being unfit to practice. It would be a complete violation of any ethical code. If a person is unable to assess whether a client goes beyond their competency, how can they safely work with them? They wouldn’t be able to see when therapy is harmful and they wouldn’t be able to refer to an appropriate service in a timely manner. This is not mitigated by being in a placement, having a tutor nor having a supervisor.
Transparency; are you opaque?
I cannot get behind any initiative which is this avoidant of answering any direct questions and this avoidant of sharing their own intentions. BACP have been unable/unwilling to provide any straight answers whatsoever. They mention the vested interests of employers and stakeholder but omit the shareholders. It has been left to other organisations such as the Alliance and CTUK, to provide information which helps to better inform counsellors of issues and conflicts arising in this project.
The BACP consultation was an epic exercise in how to make people feel like they have a voice without actually giving them an opportunity to speak. Any results arising from such a biased survey must be taken with a large dollop of salt.
Where are UKCP and BPC in all of this? They have remained relatively silent on this matter.
A first draft framework was never going to be perfect. This resolution is not about punishing a lack of finesse or the fact it doesn’t solve all problems. This imperfection would be fine if the SCoPeD team were actually able to enter into any meaningful dialogue with their members. Any concerns have been reduced to “anxiety about change” and, to be frank, the harder an establishment pushes to gaslight, subvert and avoid its members, the more we should be questioning their motives. If the SCoPeD framework is so positive and so revolutionary, why treat it like a dirty little secret? If it provides such clarity, why treat members like they couldn’t possibly understand it and suggest they blindly trust that the board, its shareholders, stakeholders and associated employers all have 100% of members’ best interests at heart?