In this issue
‘You’re on your own, kid!’
Alex O’Donnell has mixed feelings as she stands at the precipice of independent practice
One for all and all for one
Meera Dhesi and Michael Sinclair on the challenges and benefits of working as a group
Supervision with soul (free article)
Nicky Marshall on why supervision might usefully be thought of as a delivery room
Hidden from view (free article)
Ellen Bow on the destabilising impact of untreated mental illness
Self-care from the inside out
Elaine Davies on why therapy is still the most cost-effective form of self-care
An impossible profession?
Michael Soth argues that we need to become more embodied as therapists if we want to increase the sustainability of our practice
Welcome from the editor
In case you’re not already aware, big changes are afoot within BACP. The new strategy, launched in April, follows a year-long consultation with members and a review of BACP’s mission, values and objectives. The most immediate outward indication of change is the revised Ethical Framework, which goes ‘live’ on 1 July and signals a shift in the way the Association now defines its constituent members. No longer a framework for good practice in counselling and psychotherapy, it is now one for the ‘counselling professions’.
Deputy Chief Executive, External Affairs, Nancy Rowland, explains: ‘BACP has committed to a five-year programme of work led by the Professional Standards team around developing a differentiated scope of practice for the counselling professions, which will value a range of relational skills and therapeutic practice, including counselling skills, counselling, therapeutic coaching and psychotherapy. The scope of practice will assist both the profession and the public to understand the education, training and competences required to practise in the field. The Association will collaborate with practitioners, members, academics and colleagues across the profession to develop competence frameworks for evidence-based practice to underpin the professional pathways for all members. This programme of work aims to further strengthen the contribution members can make to the mental health of clients and to public wellbeing.’
Jim Holloway gives his assessment of the new Ethical Framework in his regular supervision column. And on the topic of supervision, in light of the rewriting and revisioning of ethical codes by both BACP and UKCP, Nicky Marshall reflects on the impact of these changes on the supervisory process and cautions that, in our anxiety to ‘do the right thing’, we risk losing creativity, both in the practice of supervision and within the therapeutic relationship itself. ‘If we can hold the anxiety-provoking tension of non-doing long enough for the mud to settle,’ Nicky writes, ‘we may enable both ourselves and our supervisees to better bear the doubts and uncertainties of our work, so that a more soulful process might unfold.’
Also in this issue, writing of the devastating impact of untreated mental ill health in her family, Ellen Bow makes a passionate plea for the importance of early intervention and bemoans the evidence we see all around us of people – most often the weak and the vulnerable – being shut out, pushed away, rejected and blamed.
The desire to work towards creating a fairer, more equal society, where those who are sometimes weak and vulnerable are helped and supported, rather than blamed and shamed, is echoed in a recent interview by Catherine Jackson, published in Therapy Today, in which Hadyn Williams, the Chief Executive Officer of BACP, says, '...we are here to represent the value of our profession, what it can bring, to our society.’1 The emphasis here on promoting the profession to the public and engaging more proactively to lobby for social and political change in the often marginalised and woefully underfunded area of mental health, is significant and welcome. It is reflected in the new strategic intents listed on the BACP website, which talk of championing best practice, promoting expertise, enabling confidence, and educating the public about the benefits of the counselling professions, among others.
These are vital and noble aims and will, I hope, be delivered alongside a commitment to continuing to provide valuable membership services, including the production of high quality publications and good practice in action resources, which members rely on for professional support and engagement. BACP is a membership association after all, whose very existence relies on the subscriptions of its members to survive, so it seems to me the focus of resources on public facing activities should be commensurate with those committed to membership services.
Change, of course, brings its inevitable and perhaps necessary losses and I feel sad that the restructure resulting from BACP’s new strategy has led to the redundancy of the roles of Patti Wallace, Lead Advisor Private Practice, and Julie Cranton, Divisional Officer, who did so much to support the private practice sector and this division within BACP. Susan Utting-Simon thanks them as division Chair for their hard work over the years. Encouragingly, the new strategic intents include a commitment to retaining ‘differentiated membership categories’, and Nancy Rowland explains ‘this will include a review of how best to develop members’ special interests, often reflected to great advantage in BACP’s divisions’.
I feel an important part of my responsibility as editor of this journal, and of all our roles as members of BACP and this division, is to act as a critical friend to the Association, and to play a part in presenting BACP as the ‘transparent, congruent organisation’ that Hadyn speaks of in Therapy Today. With our membership growing at approximately 17 per cent per month up to April 2016, and as the second largest of BACP’s divisions, we have a strong collective voice within the Association. I hope if, reading this, you have thoughts you wish to share – positive or critical – in response to the restructure and new strategy, that you will send them for publication in the next issue.
Some comforting words to close: in her article about the fear and frustration she’s experiencing as a recently qualified counsellor setting out in private practice, Alex O’Donnell writes that the BACP Private Practice division felt like ‘a warm, open embrace’ when she discovered it and became a member earlier this year. Long may it continue to do so.
1. Jackson C. Counselling changes lives. Therapy Today 2016; 27(4): 44–46.