I have been reading a book about supervision called “In Love With Supervision” by Robin and Joan Shohet. A section exploring fear in supervision, and the phrase “If anything appears to go wrong, there may be some unacknowledged fear in the system” have led me to reflect on what has happened with SCoPEd in this last year or so.
It is quite straightforward for me to recognise fear in myself, as an individual, around SCoPEd. I am scared that the profession will move further from relational practice, that certain organisations will monopolise, and that this will damage diversity of practice. I am scared that the hierarchical nature of SCoPEd will further the inequalities that are already in evidence in this profession, both on a practical and attitudinal level. More personally, I am scared that I have invested myself into a profession which is not what I thought it was. I am scared that the profession does not mirror the expectations I had from my experiences as a client, and probably most of all, I am scared of a rupture in my relationship with counselling and psychotherapy. I am scared of the pain inherent in that conflict, and I am scared of the loss I already experience, and will continue to experience as the SCoPEd train inevitably trundles along the track which already appears so clear. I am scared for what that means for my identity.
I also recognise that these fears in me mirror other fears in my life, past and present. From loss, grief, and rupture in relationships, to political issues which feel so out of control, such as Brexit, and of course, coronavirus. My vocal opposition to SCoPEd must necessarily be in relationship with my fear.
On a wider level, it seems to me that therapists, systems and organisations also experience fear, on all sides of the SCoPEd debate. It is not for me to speculate on which individuals may be experiencing fear or why, but it seems to me that the creation of SCoPEd in itself may reflect a fearful position (What are we? Will we be recognised? What happens if we become statutorily regulated?), and I feel a sense that some of the interactions I have had with BACP in particular (but also with other supporters of SCoPEd) have been conducted from a mutual place of fear. I have certainly felt very defensive and vulnerable in the face of some really targeted and personal comments and actions. I own the fear that I have felt, and I am also coming to understand fear as systemic, and perhaps on some level we all share in it, I am not sure.
So why am I sharing this? Principally because one thing I have noticed about SCoPEd and the way it has played out, is how easy it is to dehumanise individuals and fail to recognise that we are in relationship with the very human feelings that emerge, both individually and collectively. I think from this place, we will only ever have division. I am not sure if there is a way to resolve these types of systemic dynamics, at least not simply. When money, livelihoods, reputations, and status are thrown in the mix, it is a complex web to untangle indeed. On all sides. I do feel that an important step is to acknowledge it. I invite others to do the same (if you have not already), whatever your opinion of SCoPEd. Do you feel fear in connection with SCoPEd? If so, what sense can you make of it, and how do you think it connects to a sense of collective fear, not just in people with whom you agree, but those with whom you don’t, as well?
I will continue to challenge SCoPEd robustly, because I believe that scrutiny is helping the team developing SCoPEd to reflect on the impact of the project on therapists, clients and counselling, and more needs to be done on that, especially around hierarchy and its impact on equality and diversity in the profession. But I will also do this with a renewed awareness of fear in the system. Mine, others’ and that of the system itself.