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Did you know that in the UK, anyone – no matter what their qualifications or experience – can set themselves up as a counsellor, a psychotherapist, or indeed use any job title except for a chosen few that are protected by law?

In this episode, we will be talking Phil Doré and Amanda Williamson about regulation – or rather, the lack of it – in mental health care in the UK.

Amanda Williamson is a Senior Accredited Counsellor and Coach working in private practice. Following her experience of abusive therapy as a trainee, she joined Phil Doré as part of Unsafe Spaces and campaigned for the regulation of counselling and psychotherapy.

Phil Dore is a mental health nurse who has spent most of his career in the NHS, which is where he currently works. He started the Unsafe Spaces blog and together with Amanda, Phil wrote the Unsafe Spaces report in 2016 (see link below)

Now you may be wondering why we are interviewing people who wrote a report that’s now 8 years old?

Well, the reason is because – as we’ll hear later – everything in that report remains equally as relevant, if not more so today.

Links 

Link to the Unsafe Spaces report

Link to the investigation by the Daily Express

Link to Professional Standard’s Authority’s ‘Share Your Experience’ form

General advice on choosing a therapist in the UK

Follow @livelymindspod on X, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and more at https://www.bio.link/livelyminds

Please note that this show does not constitute medical advice and is not a replacement for seeking professional help. You can find our more about the show and get signposting to support on our website anyamedia.net/livelyminds

Transcript

E: Hello, my name is Ellie.

 

W: And my name is Will.

 

E: You are listening to Lively Minds, the podcast about mental health challenges that go beyond
the ebb and flow of the everyday.

 

W: The podcast that looks at how developing an understanding of our mental health challenges
influences how we address them.

 

E: In this episode, we’ll be talking to Phil Dore and Amanda Williamson about regulation or rather the lack of it in mental health care.

 

W: Amanda Williamson is a senior accredited counsellor and coach working in private practice. Following her experience of abusive therapy as a trainee, she joined Phil Dore as part of Unsafe Spaces and campaigned for the regulation of counselling and psychotherapy.

 

E: Phil Dore is a mental health nurse who has spent most of his career in the NHS, which is where he currently works. He started the Unsafe Spaces blog and together with Amanda, Phil wrote the Unsafe Spaces report in 2016. We will put a link to the report in the show notes.

 

W: Now you may be wondering why we are interviewing people who wrote a report that is now seven and a half, eight years old. Well, the reason is because, as we’ll hear, everything in that report remains equally as relevant, if not more so today.

 

E: So before we begin talking about the Unsafe Spaces report, could we begin by setting the scene? So could you take us through what mental health roles in the UK are and aren’t regulated and broadly kind of how those standards are maintained across regulated and unregulated roles. Phil, would you like to go first?

 

P: Okay, well, there is what is known as a protected title or protected profession. These are jobs that in order to do this job, you have to be registered with a professional regulator such as the General Medical Council, Nursing and Midwifery Council, the Health and Care professional’s counsel. And this includes things like being a doctor, being a nurse, a midwife,an occupational therapist, a social worker, a teacher. Currently it doesn’t include counsellors and psychotherapists. There are registers that counsellors and psychotherapists can join, but, there’s no legal requirement to be on these registers, so you don’t have to.

 

When I started out as the Unsaved Spaces blog prior to 2016, it eventually became the Unsaved Spaces Report. One thing that I became particularly concerned about was the way that this lack of regulation was allowing people who frankly should not be working with vulnerable people to continue practising, particularly as counsellors and psychotherapists, but also some other similar professions. And people had been taken to a disciplinary process by some of these professional bodies and indeed in some cases been struck off, they then had no legal requirement to stop working. So we found people who had been struck off, often for very, very serious misconduct, who are still in practice, in some cases still in practice today. I thought I’d look at some of the confusion that lies between what is a protected profession, a protected title and what is not. And I think Will got very excited when I mentioned this.

 

W: I did.

 

P: Yeah, I thought I’d give you both a little quiz. It’s not a very long quiz, but what I’m going to do is I’m going to read out four professions. I’m going to see if you can guess whether these are protected titles with a statutory regulatory regulator or if they don’t.

 

W: Okay. Listeners, please play along at home.

 

[Music]

 

P: So the first one is music therapists. Would you say that is a protected title or it is not.

 

W: I think it is.

 

P: Yes, because arts therapists, which include drama therapists and music therapists, those are regulated by the health and care professions council.

 

E: arrrhhhh

 

P: So that’s a bit of an anomaly because arts therapy is a form of psychotherapy and it’s one of the very, very few areas of psychotherapy that has a professional regulator. It’s a bit of an oddity there. So far, Will is one point up.

 

[Laughter]

 

E: Will’s also very competitive so he’s absolutely loving this.

 

W: Yeah.

 

[Laughter]

 

P: It’s early days yet. There’s still time for the day’s yet.

 

P: Okay, okay. The next one, nutritionist.

 

E: Yeah, I’m gonna say not regulated.

 

P: Okay, there is a protected title, but that is dietician.

 

E: Oh Okay, that’s interesting.

 

P: Not nutritionist.

 

E: And is that regulated by the HCPC as well?

 

P: Yes.

 

E: The healthcare profession.

 

P: That one is regulated. Now, if somebody is calling themselves a nutritionist, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re doing anything sinister. For example, there might be a lot of research scientists who work in a university who are called nutritionists. And that’s fine. It can also include, you know, the kind of quacks who will appear on TV occasionally and tell you that mung beans will cure your cancer. Thats something to think about if you hear about this great numerical diet that’s being promoted by a nutritionist rather than a dietician?

 

P: Okay, round three. Psychologist.

 

E: Psychologist is protected.

 

W: I don’t think it is. I think clinical psychologist specifically is protected.

 

P: And Will picked up on the trick question.

 

E: Yeah, because the reason I quite confidently said yes is because I know that clinical psychologist is protected and the title psychologist, I guess, are not seen thrown around as much. So I kind of assumed that that came under the clinical psychologist protection.

 

P: Yeah, so basically the health and care professions council, it does regulate certain titles like clinical psychologist, sports psychologist, registered psychologist, forensic psychologist, but just the word psychologist alone is not, anyone can use that. And again, there are certain people who maybe do psychology, but as a researcher who are not clinicians, for whom that’s perfectly fine.

 

E: Yeah.

 

P: But again, there are also people out there who will call themselves a psychologist, claiming some expertise and qualification in mental health that they may not have.

 

Okay, so we have one more. Podiatrist.

 

W: Oooo

 

E: Interesting.

 

P: Shall we start with you Will?

 

W: I’m gonna say unregulated because I’m not, no sorry I’m gonna say regulated because I might, there is chiropodist as well isn’t there? I’m gonna say regulated because I’ve seen I’ve seen references to podiatry within hospitals and things.

 

P: Okay.

 

E: I am gonna go definitely for unregulated.

 

P: That one is regulated. We almost threw it well because you started thinking about chiropodists and podiatrists but both chiropodists and podiatrists are regulated. And I find that quite interesting because you’ve got to be with a regulator to mess with someone’s verruca, not with their mind.

 

[Laughter}

 

E: Yeah that is so messed up.

 

P: Yeah these are. These words, the public often struggles with, you know, what is a regulated profession and what is not, and they don’t necessarily know the difference. And I would stress in talking about these things, if we bring up any horror stories about bad things that have happened during counselling and psychotherapy, it’s not because we think people shouldn’t go to therapy, because many people have been to therapy, it’s been life-changing for a lot of people, for many people it’s been life-saving. So if anyone’s listening to this and gets a bit nervous, none of this is a call to not attend therapy. It’s basically called to do a little bit of homework when hiring a therapist, particularly if you’re hiring one in private practice.

 

Who are they registered with? And … are they with a statutory regularist such as the Health and Care Professions Council or the Nursing Midwifery Council? Or are they with what are called the accredited registers, which include things like the British Association for Counseling and Psychotherapy, which I know Amanda is a member of, so I don’t know whether this perhaps might be a cue to hand over to Amanda for a bit.

 

A: It’s interesting because we use the word regulating bodies and we talk about voluntary regulation. So, as far as I’m aware regulating means something gets regulated.

 

W: Yeah.

 

A: A professional body isn’t actually regulating anyone, it’s a voluntary system. So they are kind of overseeing the membership and giving service users the opportunity for redress should something go wrong. But its not, they’re not regulated professions. And you’re aware of the professional standards authority and the accredited registers. So this is referred to as voluntary regulation, but how can it be regulation if you don’t have to be a member of it?

 

So BACP, UKCP, NCPS, these are all different professional bodies that therapists such as myself can join to be supported by, and also so that there’s a process for unhappy service users to take their therapist to some kind of arbitration and get some sort of hearing if they encounter something that’s been harmful to them.

 

W: To recap, there are some mental health roles that are regulated and therefore protected by law and they are regulated by the HCPC, the Health and Care Professions Council, and Phil, he gave some examples of those just before.

 

There are other roles, including the terms counsellor and psychotherapist, which are unregulated, therefore not regulated by law, but for those professions there are a series of voluntary registration opportunities with professional associations. Now, if we just take one sort of next layer down in terms of these professional associations, the professional associations themselves vary quite significantly don’t they in terms of whether or not they are registered with some kind of standards body, the professional standards agency. Can you take us a little bit through that Amanda?

 

A: So I guess this is a government’s answer to the lack of regulation is to have this body, the professional standards authority, and they oversee the main professional bodies and in theory they can they have standards that are required. What that means in practice though, well it means nothing because somebody could be registered with for example the BACP who are on this accredited register with the PSA, the Professional Standards Authority that practitioner gets struck off for malpractice – they can just carry on working.

 

So what’s the point? What’s the point? And it’s nothing. So one person might be able to have their complaint heard, but the public are not protected from that practitioner going on and continuing to do the same, which they often do.

 

P: What I would add is that as well as the statutory regulators like the Nursing Midwifery Council, the General Medical Council, Health and care professions council and the voluntary accredited registers like the BACP, UKCP, that’s the UK Council for Psychotherapy and the British Association for Counseling and Psychotherapy. There are also other bodies that people can join which are not either of those, and they might have a very impressive title. It might be the Global Institute for Psychotherapeutic whatever. And then you check back, you know, okay, so this very fancy sounding body, what does one have to do to actually register with this body? And in some cases, it’s as little as you’re paying a monthly subscription. And I believe at one time, I actually managed to successfully register my cat to one of these bodies.

 

[Laughter]

 

E: Oh, my God.

 

W: Before we went on there, there was quite a deep discussion about whether my cat that’s currently sitting on my knee would have the qualifications to be able to join this particular association. And I think Phil, you thought that possibly Nala, my cat, did have what it required to be able to join this particular association as well.

 

P: Unless my cat secretly has a qualification that I don’t know of.

 

[Laughter]

 

P: Then he definitely does.

 

W: As I was just digging around about this, I found some professional associations which were themselves accredited by another professional association, which itself was then accredited by the professional standards agency. So it’s like there’s a chain of different organisations and their relationships with each other which you have to unpick. And then the other thing I noticed was that from what I could tell just within mental health alone there seemed to be maybe 10 or 12 different professional associations for unregulated roles which is, it just feels really confusing. I mean if you were just an average punter just trying to navigate your way around this just the sheer volume, the sheer number of different voluntary professional associations could be quite beguiling.

 

P: Yeah.

 

A: I’d like to say something about one of the flaws with the Professional Standards Authority registers as well and I saw, this was a few years back, but there’s as far as an open no solution to this problem but I would find that there were people practising their services as a counsellor and psychotherapist who were on an accredited register, but as a hypnotherapist because that’s where they’d done their training, they’d got a certificate in hypnotherapy. So they could say, “I’m a therapist, I’m a counsellor, I’m a psychotherapist who’s registered with the PSA,” which is true, but they’re not actually on the relevant register. I did actually take this up with the PSA at the time and got a very unsatisfactory response.

 

E: Oh dear

 

A: And I sent various examples of individuals who were doing this. I thought, why am I having to do this? This is their work.

 

E: Yeah

 

A: So that’s one way, that’s one problem with the system is that people can say they’re on it, but for something completely different to what they’re advertising their services as.

 

In 2013, I did some fairly small-scale research just asking the general public about what their thoughts were around the regulation of counselling and psychotherapy. And 80% of people that myself and my colleague asked assumed it was regulated.

 

E: Yeah

 

A: And that was almost the exact same figure as some other research that was done a couple of years before, albeit in Ireland. But people assume this PSA voluntary regulation, it’s kind of, well, it is regulated. So people assume it is, they don’t realise.

 

W: And whilst I haven’t got any data to back this up, I’m sure that if we asked people today that same question about whether these professions are regulated, I bet you that a large majority would say that they think they are. I mean, I, until not that long ago, I thought that they all were,

 

Okay, let’s go to a short break.

 

[Music]

 

E: We are on social media. Come over and tell us what you thought of our show, suggest a topic for future shows, or just say hello. Our handle is the same across all platforms. Lively Minds Pod, all one word. You’ll find us on X, Instagram, and Facebook, LinkedIn, and you’ll find links to all our social media pages at anyamedia.net/livelyminds.

 

You can also contact us by emailing livelyminds@anyamedia.net

 

W: Can you tell us a little bit about the report, why you wrote it and why you think it’s important
that we’re still talking about it today?

 

P: Around 2015-2016 I’d been talking about some of these issues and some of the harms that had been experienced by patients on what was originally the Unsafe Spaces blog. That left me thinking if I create a report on which Amanda helped me with a lot as well and format it in a way that would be given to policymakers and then if I just leave that on the internet then hopefully if somebody else takes up this particular baton later down the line they will have something there that will have contributed to the body of knowledge and other people can take forward. There have been times when other people have taken it forward.

 

But one of the main things we did was we did a survey of all the people who’d been struck off by the BACP and the UKCP over a 10-year period.

 

W: Just to remind people, the BACP, UKCP, are the professional bodies for unregulated roles.

 

P: Well, I think the BACP is the biggest of the voluntary registers, certainly for counsellors and psychotherapists.

 

E: Yeah

 

P: UKCP is, for example, the second biggest. And having downloaded all the, these were just called Withdrawal of Membership Notices, we then searched for business websites for these people who’d been struck off. You see, are they still advertising their services saying, “I’m a counsellor, I’m a psychotherapist. We actually found one in four of them was. And that’s just the ones that were advertising on the internet. So maybe if somebody doesn’t have a business website, but is still practising, we wouldn’t have picked that up. To give you an idea of some of the issues we found, four of those struck off by the BACP were found to be still registered with another accredited register. One was teaching at a university. When we approached the university for comment, they confirmed that they were aware that this person had been struck off but hadn’t dismissed them. And they were teaching psychotherapy. And we also found some of those who’d been struck off had registered themselves with some of those bodies that I mentioned earlier, the ones that I could register my cat with.

 

E: The ones that your cat is a member of.

 

P: Yes. So my cat is alongside possibly some other dubious characters. So that shows the level to which these professional bodies well, yes, they may in theory strike a person off, but it is not removing them from the therapy professions.

 

E: Yeah. It goes back to what Amanda’s saying, isn’t it about like, is it a regulatory body in any way, if nothing is actually being regulated? No, in any meaningful way.

 

W: I just wonder if Amanda you wanted to add anything about your involvement with report?

 

A: Yeah, yeah.

 

W: Why you supported it?

 

A: Well, I supported it because by that stage I’d had my own experience of the futility of the complaints process which was incredible. Only two of the several women involved did take the individual to a complaints hearing. Not only did he continue in practice, we have over the years heard of other people who subsequently been impacted in the same way.

 

E: Awful.

 

W: I’ll just clarify this is what we were referring to in your introduction where as a trainee you experienced therapists who essentially…

 

A: Abused his, abused his position of trust. And also by then I was working with people who had abusive experiences in therapy or inappropriate experiences. So I felt very passionate about the content of the report and the importance of it. So my MP, Ben Bradshaw, Exeter MP, he did get slightly involved in the case and he was on the Health Select Committee at the time and the Chair of the Health Select Committee was Sarah Walliston MP who happened to be my clinical supervisors’ MP because they were both our MPs, they were able to take on the responsibility of looking at the concerns that were raised in the Unsafe Spaces Report and it therefore led to to there being a hearing in Parliament with the Health Select Committee about the content of that report, which, Phil, it didn’t really lead to anything significant, did it?

 

P: No. They had the, I forget it was the chair or the CEO of the Professional Standards Authority at that hearing, and they gave them a good grilling, but did it lead to any kind of changes in policy? Not really. Certainly not that I’m aware of.

 

E: You know, the report was written seven and a half to eight years ago. Is this still being picked up? How relevant is the report today? Have things changed? Is your opinion on kind of the landscape or what needs to happen changed at all?

 

A: So whilst I stepped back from campaigning in 2018, I regularly get contacted by journalists. My policy now is I will only sort of get involved if it’s actually been given the go ahead to go to production which led to Jordan Dunbar taking this up in 2019 for BBC Radio 4. There was something, I think it was 2017, the Victoria Derbyshire programme, and more recently a journalist took it up for the Daily Express. And when I have these conversations with these journalists, such as yourself, it appears that nothing has changed, the landscape has not changed, and it’s as relevant today as it was back then.

 

P: And something I would add to that is that the recent Daily Express report that Amanda mentioned, they decided to repeat our little survey in that they gathered a sample of counsellors and psychotherapists who’d been struck off by their professional bodies and then searched to see how many of them were still practising. And this was in 2023, not back in 2016. And again, they found a ratio of one in four still practising. So they got the exact same result as us. There’s a little irony in some of these reports in that both Amanda and I, we’re very much ardent lefties, but some of the best journalism we’ve seen on this, these sorts of things have been in places like the Mail and the Express.

 

W: Do you …
P: But yeah, but what it does show is nothing’s changed.

 

W: Do you have any sense of why there is such reticence to bring about legislation to address
these issues?

 

P: I think a lot of it is down to the public assume it’s regulated anyway.

 

A: Mmm

 

P: In terms of the current government of the day, we do have a government that does not especially believe in state intervention for obvious reasons. It’s a conservative government. There was a plan prior to 2010 under the last Labour government for councils and psychotherapists to become regulated with the Health and Care Professional council, but that got shelved when the conservative Lib Dem coalition came 2010 and that’s been the government’s position ever since that, well, we don’t need regulation because we’ve got these voluntary registers. So there’s a lack of public awareness and a government that probably wouldn’t want to do it anyway. So that’s kind of kept any kind of real meaningful change from happening.

 

A: So I think that generally people regard therapists as well-meaning and that people wouldn’t do that job who were abusive. But if you were somebody who was predatory and you wanted to find a place where it’s one person’s word against another and you’re kind of protected from being called out, I think actually it’s a good place for somebody like that. And that’s obviously a horrible thought, but unfortunately there are people who take advantage.

 

The other thing is that people who have had negative experiences are very unlikely to speak out about it, especially if it involves sexual misconduct

 

E: Yep

 

A: because they feel that they shouldn’t have got themselves into that situation, that they shouldn’t, that they won’t be believed, all those kinds of things. There is a doctor that’s been in the news in the last couple of months who’s been suspended with serious allegations around sexual misconduct, who has set up a therapy website with a string of diplomas that don’t actually exist or they’re flimsy. And that’s just to me another example of proof or evidence that counselling and psychotherapy and talking professions is somewhere that that sort of person might gravitate towards.

 

E: Yeah

 

A: And the article in the Daily Express with the journalist Zach Gardner-Perkis, who I think handled it really well, an undercover journalist went to see two struck-off therapists and then actually called them out on it. And the therapists in question basically victim-blame and play the victim.

 

E: Yeah

 

A: And that, sadly, is the sort of person that we’re talking about that we want to protect the public from what we think that there should be protection from.

 

E: Yeah

 

W: In the report, you specifically make references to the term psychotherapist and counsellor as being job titles that should be protected by law. You also talk about that consideration should be made towards other titles. I believe cognitive behavioural therapist is one example of a title that you think should be considered also to be protected by law. How far should these protections go, do you think? Should we make any room at all for mental health, dare I say it, therapeutic roles that aren’t regulated by UK law? Or do you think that anything that is in that space has to be regulated?

 

P: Well, this is actually one of the counter arguments that are made against making terms like counsellor or psychotherapist protected titles, is that some people have argued that, well, if people have to be regulated to call themselves counsellors or psychotherapists, then they will just call themselves “life coaches” or something like that. My feeling on that is, yeah, they probably would. I mentioned how podiatrists are regulated earlier. There is actually an unregulated version of podiatrists which are called “foot health practitioners”.

 

W: You haven’t tried signing a cat up to be a foot health practitioner, have you Phil?

 

[laughter]

 

P: Not yet, no. There is an accredited register for them. But I guess to me the difference with something like a life coach is that if somebody’s going to a life coach they’re not necessarily got that expectation that they’re coming there to treat a mental illness. If somebody’s asking for mental health treatment they might ask for a psychotherapist, they wouldn’t normally ask for a life coach. But I’ve mentioned this as a distinction. I have met some people in the therapy world who’ve got very irate and said, “Oh but we don’t follow the medical model, we don’t treat mental illness, we never say that”. Although my answer to that is to point to just about any counsellor or psychotherapist business website and they will always say on them, “My services are for depression, they’re for PTSD, they’re for anxiety disorders, eating disorders.” So those psychotherapists who say they don’t believe in the medical model, they really believe in it when they’re advertising their services because that’s what people want. So, if somebody is saying I do life coaching, I’m not treating any mental illnesses, I’m simply helping someone talk through their life problems and think them through, I don’t have a particular problem with that being, not being regulated. It’s when you get into terms that people associate with mental health treatment like cognitive behaviour therapists, counsellors, psychotherapists that have an issue. Amanda, I’m sure you will have plenty to say about this because I know you’re actually doing more and more coaching work lately.

 

A: It’s interesting because, yeah, that you use the word life coach because I have trained as a coach as well. And I’m actually very interested in the overlaps and distinctions between those two professions. But, my sort of, the way I look at this whole issue, I mean, there’s no easy answers for starters, there’s going to be no perfect solution. But at this stage, anything’s better than what we’ve got. But I’m taken to educating the public. So, I remember I think it was either the late 70s or early 80s, there was a whole campaign around corgi registration for gas engineers. So even as a child, I was aware that you need to make sure that your gas engineer is Corgi Registered. I think it’s Gas Safe now. So the responsibility is spread and people are educated. It’s really important that you make sure that the person that you’re getting to get gas in and out of your house really knows what they’re doing and are on this register. So, surely it could be the same thing. If you’re talking to somebody about your mental health, about your distress, about your grief, about your anxiety, about your depression, about your PTSD, make sure that whatever they call themselves they are registered with … and then if they are found to be malpracticing, especially with something obviously harmful, such as sexual misconduct, they can’t keep on doing it.

 

E: When I was at University I did get someone struck off from the university’s counselling service and she was well meaning. She thought she was a good counsellor and she thought she was doing well, but I had had so much therapy in my life by the time I was like 19, 20 or whatever that I was aware that certain things she was asking and stuff I was like “this is not right” and I remember calling her up on it in the session and she was all sort of flustered by it and so I tried to sort of get over it and we’d carry on and then I ended up walking out. I was like, “I’m sorry, but everything about the last 20 minutes has been completely inappropriate, I’m gonna leave now” then she started crying. It was just. it was so weird and I did I phoned the university that afternoon and was like, this just happened. And it was totally bizarre and they followed it up really quickly and they even called me back to say that she was no longer working Like a few days later. They were like, yeah, she’s gone She’s no longer working at the service and I was like, you know I was quite young and as I said, she clearly meant well. But I was like, oh God, I feel really bad. This woman’s lost her job. I remember my friend being like, no, Ellie, the reason that you did it is because I was lucky that whilst I was vulnerable in being a patient at that point, I also was tuned in enough to know that that wasn’t okay. And also felt comfortable phoning to make a complaint. What if the person, the next person that she sees after me, that’s their first kind of experience of mental health care and it could have caused a lot of damage. So yeah, it’s kind of, it is the people who are not well-meaning, but I think it means that people who are well-meaning but do not know what they’re doing, also can practise.

 

P: Yeah, people who are just not competent.

 

E: Just not competent.

 

A: This is it.
E: Yeah.

 

A: This is it because when I say, well, people assume therapists are well-meaning, that’s actually irrelevant.

 

E: Yeah.

 

A: It’s whether they’re competent to deliver the service, there is this kind of thought that people, so there’s a lack of awareness. And you’ve brought up a really important point because I’ve referred to predatory therapists. But there are well-meaning therapists that are still doing harm through their incompetence, perhaps lack of supervision, perhaps lack of adequate training through their own agenda that they’re unwittingly unleashing on their clients. So yes, and well done for doing what you did. And you’re absolutely right.

 

E: Yeah

 

A: A lot of people are not in a position to report that. But yeah, well-meaning is not really the point, is it?

 

E: No.

 

A: It’s competency.

 

E: It’s so bizarre, yeah. What would regulation look like in your in your guy’s kind of ideal regulation? Would it be like the General Medical Council, but for psychotherapists?

 

A: For me, it would be something like the Gas Safe Register.

 

E: Yeah.

 

A: and a practitioner can’t be insured unless they’re registered with that. And awareness is raised for the public in if they are seeking private help, whether it’s a therapeutic coach or a CBT practitioner or a psychologist, that they are on one register that covers it all.

 

P: I would add in terms of what that might look like, one part of that is protected titles, which we’ve talked about a lot, but another could be protected functions and I would suggest that perhaps a function that should be protected is the use of psychological therapies which are for the treatment of a mental health condition.

 

W: Yeah, that’s interesting.

 

P: So if you are advertising your services as this service is for the treatment of depression, PTSD, anxiety, then you should have some sort of protected title, be that mental health, psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, arts therapists, because they are protected, and hopefully adding to this titles like counsellor, psychotherapist, family therapist, cognitive behaviour therapist. And that also gives that dividing line that if somebody wants to advertise their services, but it’s very clear this is not for mental illness, I’m not a clinician, we are just talking through life problems here, then people are welcome to do that, I don’t have a problem with that.
In order to get to where that regulation is, is. I don’t want to make this political, but I don’t think it’s likely to happen unless there’s a change of government.

 

E: Yeah

 

P: I don’t think it’s going to happen, certainly under the current British Sunak government. And although I think it is quite likely that in the next few months the Tories will leave power and Labour will come in, they will be coming in with a big, big, big to-do list. And so actually getting them to think about this particular area may be very, very tricky.

 

A: Plus who’s pushing for it right now?

 

P: But I would say that is a call to people out there. If you are concerned about this, you need to be talking to your MP about it.

 

W: Yeah.

 

E: Yeah.

 

P: Because MPs do not pick up these cases unless they have their constituencies going round
their surgeries and saying you need to do something about this. And just a final point, I mean, as yet, while all this is going on, as we said, we’re not saying don’t go to therapy because lots of people do need therapy, lots of people benefit hugely from therapists. For many people it saved their lives.

 

E: Yep

 

P: But what we would say is, if you are going to a therapist, particularly in private practice, ask what body are they registered with and check, is this an accredited registrar or statutory regulator and then go to that registrar’s website and check online that they are still registered. And if you do that fairly simple step, you’re going to give yourself a bit of a degree of protection.

 

W: Yeah. And what we can do as well as part of this episode is in the show notes we can put a link to where there’s some advice about that. I know that there is advice out there on various websites. We can find a reputable one and put a link to that advice in our show notes as well.

 

Thank you both so much for coming on to the show.

 

E: Yeah thank you so much it’s really interesting.

Lively Minds is an Anya Media //// Still Ill OK co-production

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