Selling out?

Richard Hallam posts…

The most recent 2021-22 BPS Strategic Framework announces that it has become a registering organisation, along with BABCP, “for the wellbeing practitioner workforce and beyond.” (It’s not clear what ‘beyond’ means here). The presence of this new workforce has major implications for existing practitioner psychologists in terms of competition (with a cheaper employee) and with being given the extra job, in most cases, of management/supervision. I am not aware of any consultation with BPS members over this new policy or any attempt to solicit views about it. Personally, I do not think that training a large number of these mental health workers (PWPs) is good policy-making but there are also serious questions over protection of the public. It is claimed by the BPS that they will work with the Professional Standards Authority (PSA), but the job of this organisation is to oversee actual professional regulators and, at present, there is no regulator for PWPs. The BABCP, which also registers them, devolves regulation on to a PWP’s professional body (e.g., the nursing code of conduct is applied if the PWP happens to be a nurse). However, a PWP does not necessarily belong to a professional association or, for that matter, have any academic qualification in psychology. The BABCP website states that they, along with the BPS, “have equivalent processes for addressing complaints or problems.” What are they? The BABCP refers complainants to other professional bodies when it is possible to do so or to the employer of the PWP complained about. Failing that, they have an investigative committee whose worst sanction is to terminate registration. They do not aim to provide redress to the complainant or offer to retrain PWPs who fall below required standards. In other words, there is no actual commitment to a cadre of workers, as might be obtained from Union membership. BABCP states that registered PWPs are not allowed to work in private practice (how is that monitored?) but they can work for private companies who provide mental health services (is there really much difference?). In 2009, the BPS surrendered any regulatory role to the HCPC, whose functions are confined to specified groups of practitioners (certainly not PWPs). Around 2009, other counselling and psychotherapy organisations lobbied Parliament and fought a successful battle not to come under HCPC regulation. This was wise in retrospect because the PSA, in its latest audit of the HCPC, gave it a rating of 1 out of 4 on its ‘fitness to practice’ work. The BPS has no role in investigating complaints and, like the BABCP, it can only de-register a PWP. It is not clear what the BPS gets out of this arrangement apart from a registration fee. Meanwhile, their loyal and un-consulted membership is loaded down with something they had no say over.

9 thoughts on “Selling out?”

  1. Thanks Dick. To clarify; with respect to
    “the BABCP would investigate a complaint against a PWP but only if no-one else could be given the job”,
    this should in my view really read
    “the BABCP would investigate a complaint against a PWP but only if no one else SHOULD be given the job”.

    To explain; this preferment is normal practice where the registration or accreditation is secondary but not statutory, which it often is for example in CBT acccreditation. For example, if someone is registered with statutory bodies such as the GMC, HCPC or NMC as well as the BABCP, the statutory professional registering body should take pole position. The secondary registration body would accept their ruling (and it would be odd if they did not). I presume (but don’t know) that the BPS takes the same position with respect to Chartering, for example. This “hierarchy” prevents “double jeopardy”, inconsistencies and avoids confusion in terms of public access to fitness to practice information etc. There may be other ways of doing it, but I don’t know. Where the BABCP is the sole registering body (which will be true for most but not all PWPs, AMHPs, CYPs etc) then the BABCP procedures will be applied, and this according to the PSA rules. (I can’t speak for the BPS on this or any other matter, of course.)

    What I can say is that being removed from either register as a PWP (and the subsequent other LI professions) disqualifies people from being on the other, and this is clearly specified. BPS and BABCP will both have their own complaints procedure in line with PSA requirements. The BABCP has a long established process for fitness to practice linked to the current accreditation of CBT therapists.

    In terms of the fuller details and its availability, this is pending the final processing of the PSA applications. This is a lengthy and presumably thorough process which has yet to be concluded. Until that is in place, we are not in a position to put up the details as they may have to be changed if PSA require it.

    As outgoing Vice President of the BABCP (posting here in a personal capacity of course), I am very pleased indeed that we have been able to begin the process of helping the development and oversight of the “Low Intensity” psychological professions and think they are a wonderful addition to the Psychological Professions in the NHS and beyond.

    Of course all of this raises the not entirely unrelated issue of the extent of statutory regulation of psychological therapy, psychotherapy, counselling and so on, but that’s a discussion for another day!


  2. Paul, I would love to be proved wrong. But I couldn’t find anything on BABCP/BPS websites. Why not give us the info so we don’t have to inquire about it, and everyone can see it in plain sight?


    1. Happy to. What info? Increased cp commissions? Complaints? Will review website but think much of it is there and the Babcp is responsive to queries


      1. The BABCP guidelines for practice and ethical behaviour cannot be faulted. The BPS guidelines are more general but equally worthy. The BPS also states that it cannot investigate any fitness to practice issues. In that case, why is it registering PWPs? Does it refer a complaint about a PWP to the BABCP? The main concern of BPSWatch is to question how the BPS performs its functions. I understand that the BABCP would investigate a complaint against a PWP but only if no-one else could be given the job. We have no idea whether any such complaints have been investigated and by whom and with what effect. Therefore the BPS cannot claim it is protecting the public. If there is any relevant information on this issue, please let us know where to find it.


      2. Hi Paul,

        We seem to be having a it of trouble getting your latest comment through – we are not blocking you! We have tried putting up a comment from our end and it seemed to work for us, so I am not sure where things are getting held up. Usually, as blog administrator, I get an email asking me to approve, but nothing has come through (I have also checked spam and junk). I am the first to admit that my understanding of the workings of WordPress are rudimentary at best so I am at a bit of a loss to know what to do next. I note that your two comments thus far have different avatars but I cannot think how that would make a difference. One solution is that you email us your comment and we put it up as a new post.

        Best wishes,

        Peter Harvey


        1. Dear Peter

          I noticed my reply didn’t come up although it has now. If I get anything else to respond to, I will just email it as you suggest.



  3. Hi Dick. The points you make have been addressed in various ways by the BABCP. Maybe worth enquiring directly? In other news the commissioning of CPs has doubled (yes, doubled) in the last three years. Although I understand your indignation it is likely misplaced if you look into it a bit more deeply. Paul Salkovskis


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