If I were in the upper echelons of the BACP right now, I would seek to directly address the rumbles of mistrust and scepticism which reverberate in its membership. I would acknowledge the undeniable rupture that is forming between the professional body and a large portion of its registered counsellors. I would hope to demonstrate the skills and critical awareness of ethical understanding to work with these difficulties in the relationship. I would also be addressing issues of power inherent in the process of SCoPEd. You know, like a qualified counsellor can’t.
What we have seen from the BACP is something quite different. It seems as though they feel that by spinning the results of the consultation so hard they are in danger of flying away, the large number of concerned and horrified members will forget what they feel, and those who have yet to engage with the nitty gritty of what SCoPEd means won’t bother, because the BACP have shouted “EVERYTHING IS ROSY” so loudly that “Erm…what about the flawed and biased methodology?” doesn’t even register. I have never known such a blatant manipulation of facts and misrepresentation of popular opinion outside of Westminster.
I became a therapist because I experienced the therapeutic relationship as beyond duplicity and hubris. Because I found a place for myself which chimed with my values. To witness political manoeuvring so incongruent with those values so soon into my career is deeply troubling, and I can do nothing other than contest it in the strongest possible terms.
A couple of weeks ago I spoke on the phone to someone who wishes for me to call them “a BACP spokesperson” (which was not pre-agreed, but requested afterwards). I feel this title omits important information about who the person was, but I will acquiesce. I am not going to go into detail about what was said – mostly because there was absolutely no new information or departure from what has already been said by the BACP – but probably the most interesting part was that I was offered an opportunity to speak about SCoPEd in Therapy Today as part of a “multi-faceted discussion”. I said I would be happy to.
At that point in time (a little while before the consultation results were received) I was experiencing SCoPEd-fatigue and decided to take a week or so off reading, writing or thinking about the project. I received an email from their communication team a few days after my initial phone-call, which asked whether I could have a telephone conversation later that day, with somebody for Therapy Today. I asked for more information about what this would entail, what my contribution would look like, and whether I could write my contribution, rather than give it over the telephone. I received no reply to this email and no further communication from the BACP at all*. It feels very much like they wished for this contribution to be on their terms and with their objectives in mind. Thinking about the leading and narrow questions in the consultation, I wonder if I would have been asked similarly restrictive questions had I agreed to a telephone call.
And this has been my experience of the SCoPEd team from the BACP – sporadic and disingenuous. Frustrated and disappointed doesn’t even begin to cover my feelings about it. Meanwhile, the NCS have fully consulted with their membership in a way that I feel upholds the ethical principles of respect and justice, and the BACP have singularly failed to do this.
I would be incredibly disappointed to have to part ways with the BACP. I love the work they are doing around older people, and other important areas too. There are great people doing great work within the organisation. To have that undone by an unethical, unilateral shift in their policies would be a tragedy.
At this point I think we are doing the right thing – we are keeping this issue as much in our consciousness as we can. We are not letting it fade away into the background so that it can be adopted surreptitiously without fanfare or protest. I will not accept SCoPEd now or at any point in the future, and I stand with the many organisations, including the Alliance for Counselling and Psychotherapy, Counsellors UK, the Psychotherapy and Counselling Union, and Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility, in their efforts to reject it on every level – from its origin, to its bias, to its methodology and its claims.
We must ensure that the profession remains congruent with the philosophies which underpin it, at every level and in every action. I feel that the BACP are not achieving this at the moment; it seems to me that they must undergo some serious self-examination, and ask themselves whether they believe in their own values at all.
*Update 18/03/19: Today, two weeks after my email was not replied to, and less than 15 hours after this blog post went live, the BACP replied, apologising for not responding before. Apparently I am still invited to participate, but the deadline for the April issue has been missed.