Dear Members, Registrants and Colleagues,
As Chairs and Chief Executives of BACP, BPC and UKCP, we wish to bring you regular updates on the ways in which our three organisations are working together, to create a world where counselling and psychotherapy is available to all who need it. This is the second of these updates.
The status of psychology and the historical lack of a coordinated approach from us, three leading bodies for counselling and psychotherapy, has led to a situation where our capacity to influence those who shape the operating environment in which you work has been weak. Numerous times we have been told that our difficulties in presenting a unified voice has hampered our capacity to have the influence which could mutually benefit service users and our members/registrants.
Our wish, despite organisational differences, is to work together to ensure a future of counselling and psychotherapy. This is because the challenges confronting those in need of counselling and psychotherapy are more urgent and far, far greater than our organisational or theoretical differences.
One way we can help to raise awareness of our professions is through encouraging parliamentarians to establish an All-Party Parliamentary Group for psychotherapy and counselling.
All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) are informal cross-party groups that have no official status within Parliament. They are run by and for Members of the Commons and Lords, though many choose to involve individuals and organisations from outside Parliament in their administration and activities. APPG events are usually open to all interested stakeholders.
We as the CCPP (Collaboration of Counselling and Psychotherapy Professions) have helped initiate exploratory conversations about creating such an APPG. If successful, it would be a major positive step for all psychotherapists and counsellors by giving us a voice within the corridors of power. To be clear, APPGs are dependent on the continued support of parliamentarians, and they determine how a group is run and what it does. And there is still some way to go before a group is formed, however, we will continue to encourage its formation and we will keep you updated as things progress.
We know there is currently substantial political focus on mental health, and there are allusions to expanding mental health services in the NHS long term plan. We have already secured a strong voice within the interim NHS People Plan by joining the National Psychological Professions Workforce Stakeholder Group – to prevent policymakers continually overlooking the counselling and psychotherapy workforce. There are big opportunities for psychotherapists and counsellors as part of a major expansion of the mental health workforce, but there is work to do to place ourselves firmly on the decision makers’ radar. That’s why it is so important that we continually engage with the NHS and Health Education England (HEE) and why we need strong advocates in Westminster. The APPG could be a huge help with that.
Increased focus on mental health services presents an opportunity for major culture change. However, if we are to avoid more of the same, we will need major cross-party political backing.
Update on NICE Campaign
BACP, BPC and UKCP have engaged robustly with NICE over the Depression in Adults guideline update. We’ve continually made the case for counselling and psychotherapy as effective psychological interventions and reiterated our support for service user choice of treatment.
Alongside other leading stakeholders, we have continued to outline the significant flaws in methodology, a lack of transparency and several inconsistencies we found in the first and second draft documents NICE published in July 2017 and May 2018 respectively. Following coordinated pressure from the CCPP, mental health stakeholders and cross-party politicians, NICE announced ‘exceptional’ second and third consultations on the draft guideline.
NICE acknowledged that it is important that the final recommendations are based on the most up-to-date evidence. It will now include updated research from July 2016 onwards, as well as new work on ‘patient choice’ and a focus on ‘shared decision making’. This additional work started in December 2018 with final publication currently scheduled for February 2020.
As the guideline is revised, we shall continue to put co-ordinated pressure on NICE, including working with parliamentarians who share our serious concerns with the current draft guideline.
We have met the Chief Executive of NICE, Sir Andrew Dillion and put forward our various concerns which, if not adequately addressed in the latest revision of the guideline, will lead to treatment recommendations that are not fit for purpose and will impede the care of millions of people in the UK living with depression.
We will bring you more details on the CCPP's projects and progress soon.
Andrew Reeves, Chair, BACP
Susanna Abse, Chair, BPC
Martin Pollecoff, Chair, UKCP
Hadyn Williams, Chief Executive, BACP
Gary Fereday, Chief Executive BPC
Sarah Niblock, Chief Executive UKCP