Firstly, I wanted to thank you for your feedback, I really appreciate you taking the time to outline your concerns and for us to hear from your experience. I’m very sorry to hear that someone with your passion and commitment to their work has decided to leave BACP.
You have raised a number of different and important issues specifically relating to EDI which we thought it was important to respond to in detail, so I’ve included an additional paper attached to this letter. I hope it is helpful.
Most importantly, you asked what does BACP stand for and how can we not take into account what is best for our members and clients. We believe that no person with the requisite passion, skills and commitment should be prevented from joining or progressing in the counselling and psychotherapy profession and that no client should be excluded from access to therapy that is appropriate for them.
I’d also like to assure you that we only adopt and pursue policies and initiatives that we believe to be in the best interests of our members and their clients.
It is clear from your email that these issues are very important to you as well, and that is powerful to read. BACP values the feedback, passion and ideas of all of its members especially when a member decides to leave BACP.
On that note, we strongly believe SCoPEd is part of the solution and not part of the problem and the attached paper sets out the reasons behind that.
We absolutely understand and accept that there are a range of opinions and understandings of the aims and purpose of the SCoPEd work and partnership, and the detail of the framework itself. We have more work to do to discuss and develop these solutions with our members and the wider profession.
I hope this response addresses the points you raise and sets out how we anticipate SCoPEd being part of the long-term solution we are all striving for.
We would really like to understand more about your experience and concerns and invite you to help us tackle the clear challenges that we and the wider profession face in this area.
If you’d like to do this we’d be happy to set up a conversation with you.
Attached word document text:
Our plans to bolster equality, diversity and inclusion across BACP
I want to reassure you that addressing issues of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) is a key strategic priority.
This is set out in our emerging EDI strategy, which includes a number of specific commitments that we will be consulting on shortly.
BACP has committed £1.3m to implement this EDI strategy to address the very issues that you raise in your email. This commitment was in response to the disproportionate impact of Covid-19, the death of George Floyd and the elevation of the Black Lives Matter movement. We recognised that BACP needed to think about what we could do as an organisation to address issues of discrimination, inequality and systemic racism.
While BACP has a more diverse membership than some other professional bodies, we know that there is a major task ahead to address barriers to the profession and to widen the potential impact of counselling and psychotherapy in society. There are some key issues that we want to address including:
- how to remove barriers and widen entry to the profession so that it is more representative,
- how to increase progression for all groups regardless of their initial starting point,
- how to set standards to ensure and foster training that meaningfully addresses EDI priorities,
- how to transform curricula from predominantly Eurocentric male traditions to more open and inclusive approaches, and
- how to upskill trainers to deliver courses that are inclusive, facilitative and offer a positive experience to marginalised groups.
Addressing barriers to entry to our profession
We are committed to addressing barriers to entry to the profession and supporting a skilled, competent and diverse workforce to deliver therapy to people from all sections of UK society.
We believe a diverse and ethically grounded counselling profession will strive to remove barriers that prevent people accessing therapy and contribute to positioning counselling as a positive, responsive and sensitive service that respects and strengthens individual identity and improves emotional wellbeing. We know there is a lot of work to be done.
I specifically want to mention a few workstreams that we’ve already started because I feel they demonstrate how BACP is already responding to your concerns.
- Bursaries – We’re developing a project to offer bursaries to help people to train as counsellors or psychotherapists. The funding would give us the opportunity to test this as a way of encouraging people from underrepresented groups or those who need financial support to enter the counselling professions. If successful the ambition is to scale this up to achieve wider impact supported by a long term sustainable funding model. There is the potential for this scheme to also be used to support progression within the field.
- Mentoring – We will be launching a mentoring scheme to support trainees from marginalised groups throughout their training programme. This will provide much needed help in the form of professional friendship, developing insight through reflection, offering a sounding board and encouragement throughout their training journey.
- Removing barriers to therapy – We will shortly be announcing the successful applicant for our new £37K grant scheme to fund a BACP organisational member to work in partnership with a community-led partner to remove barriers to therapy for people from racialised community backgrounds. This is just the first grant of its kind and we’ll use the knowledge and learning from the project evaluation to inform further grant-funding initiatives.
- Supporting tutors – We are part of the Diversity and Inclusion coalition which has commissioned a toolkit to support tutors in delivering training which addresses anti-oppressive practice.
- Revising accreditation schemes – Internally we are revising our course accreditation schemes to reflect new standards needed to embed EDI in training and we have used experts to help us develop more flexible and accessible access to our accreditation schemes.
- SCoPEd – The SCoPEd work sits at the heart of this same commitment, which is to bring transparency to our field, to enable greater mobility and progression and to ensure recognition of the wide range of skills of all our members whatever their initial entry point or background.
SCoPEd as an enabler of equality, diversity and inclusion
SCoPEd touches on the very issues you raise because we believe that by showing the similarities across the modalities and different trainings, and by recognising that there are different routes and journeys to increased skills and knowledge, that we will address some of the diversity and inclusion issues that your email highlights.
We recognise the representation and accessibility issues within the profession, and acknowledge that this has a range of negative consequences for those seeking therapy as well as those providing it.
We understand and accept that there are a range of opinions and understandings of the aims and purpose of the SCoPEd work and partnership, and the detail of the framework itself.
I want to stress that SCoPEd is published but not yet adopted, so at this stage it’s not possible to be exact about what some of BACP’s processes and support might look like if it were adopted.
But these would be transparent, supportive and cohesive in helping current and future members, including those most marginalised, to access and progress. The next phase of the work includes an impact assessment to help us understand the issues and find ways to measure progress if the framework is adopted.
You raise a concern about regulation. SCoPEd is not about regulating our profession and we are not making that claim. Statutory regulation does not appear to be on the horizon and it is not within BACP’s (or the SCoPEd partnership’s) gift to push for regulation even if that was a wish.
However, should regulation be brought back to the table by government, we (as an individual body and together as a partnership) are in a better place to influence those requirements to ensure they are most meaningful, relevant, evidence informed and underpinned by knowledge and expertise of our members than if we had not done the work we have via SCoPEd.
As with all BACP work, we review member feedback and incorporate it into the work where it is appropriate. I want to assure you that we read every survey comment, every email, every social media post and we used all that feedback in our discussions and work to refine and update the January 2022 framework.
The latest framework benefits hugely from an expanded partnership where we’ve worked with bodies who have different membership profiles and who have had different starting points with SCoPEd.
We’ve included the client voice by working with experts by experience and have found their presence and the lens they bring illuminating, grounding and impactful.
This has led to a number of changes which we hope you see as improvements.
We’ve also devoted a significant amount of time and resource, across the partnership, to exploring EDI considerations (the framework contains a number of revisions in this area and we are currently refining a commissioning brief for an independent impact assessment), to researching the literature and evidence around core training, coverage of trauma, to the importance of the therapists qualities and ensuring the language is appropriate to the journeys of all therapists.
If you are not familiar with the extent of this latest work then you might find the feedback themes and change decision making rationale a useful read. You can find this information in the SCoPEd Methodology document in Appendices 6 and 8 https://www.bacp.co.uk/media/14437/scoped-methodology-update-january-2022.pdf