When looking into SCoPEd I have been trying to make sense of the reasons that the BACP, BPC and UKCP have decided that they need to design and implement this framework. As counsellors and psychotherapists, we work for our clients and their wellbeing. So why is it that clients appear to be an afterthought to the project?
We hope that this ground-breaking work will help to clarify the professions for the public, trainers, employers, clients and patients and other stakeholders in this field.BACP, Advancing the Profession: SCoPEd Framework, 1
The BACP website references clients (and patients) in their reasoning, yet in their FAQ they appear to disregard clients by stating that the framework is “not designed as a public facing document”.2 This contradiction shows their intentions clearly to me – clients are not seen as an important aspect of this framework, despite the fact that they are the people that we serve.
The joint statement on the purpose of SCoPEd is:
We have joined together as three of the leading counselling and psychotherapy organisations to improve access for clients/service users and optimise their wellbeing. We are committed to advocating for and promoting client/service user choice.BPC, Consultation Feedback,3
Yet iteration 2 of SCoPEd shows that clients have been long forgotten by all three membership bodies.
I wonder how this will all impact on clients. As it stands, the hierarchy of therapists (currently A, B and C) is an attempt to assign clients to the appropriately trained therapists. But this argument frustrates me because there is an assumption that Category A therapists have no understanding and ability to work with self-harm, suicide, ideation and concepts such as the unconscious.
I would find it incredibly dangerous for a client who expresses their feelings around self-harm with a therapist they’ve been seeing for a few months to be told “this is above my expertise so I have to refer you”. The trust the client has developed in their therapist could be shattered, and ultimately create fear in disclosing anything further.
Furthermore, many student therapists on placement work with vulnerable groups – from Childhood Sexual Abuse to grief and bereavement. Are they proposing that students no longer do this work? Or are they suggesting that this is OK, UNTIL they qualify, and then they can no longer do this work?
Honestly, the whole thing raises more questions than it answers. If I am confused as someone who has researched the profession excessively, how will a client feel? I’d be completely put off, confused by the whole process and who can be my therapist and who can’t. This is creating more barriers to therapy when they should be tearing them down.
I would like there to be a study asking current and potential clients what they can ascertain from the framework, and whether they would feel prioritised and understood. I’ve seen many people push the BACP, UKCP and BPC to consider the clients, but I have seen no evidence yet of that. The BACP are holding a Q&A on Friday 4th September, which I will have to watch on catchup, and I hope someone asks some questions about the clients… But I’m not holding out too much hope.