Opposing the Counsellors and Psychotherapists (Regulation) and Conversion Therapy Bill

by Julia Evans on August 23, 2018

The letter,, which is reproduced below protests at the introduction of this unnecessary & unwanted bill, has been sent to Dr Wollaston MP who chairs the Parliamentary Health Committee. It will not protect anyone from ‘conversion therapy’ and will almost certainly have adverse consequences on most practitioners who do not use ‘conversion therapy’ or even countenance its use.

A notification of receipt was received on 23rdAugust 2018 at 19:02.

The following response was received from Dr Sarah Wollaston who chairs the House of Commons’ Health & Social Care Committee, by email on Friday 7thSeptember 2018. I will not be taking further action as Dr Wollaston is correct, this Bill has very little chance of succeeding. Unfortunately, the publicity will keep the issue alive and I predict that this will not be the last attempt to bring in tighter regulation, on the back of conversion therapy.

Julia Evans 

________________________________________________________

Health and Social Care Committee

House of Commons | London | SW1A 0AA

Website: www.parliament.uk/hsccom

Twitter: @CommonsHealth

From Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, Chair

To Julia Evans, Letter sent by email to JE.Lacanian@icloud.com

 

Dear Julia,

Thank you for writing to me raising your concerns about the Counsellors and Psychotherapists (Regulation) and Conversion Therapy Bill 2017-19.

A select committee plays no role in the consideration of Private Member’s Bills and so I am afraid that there is little we can do to oppose the Bill as a Committee.

The Bill you are referring to is a Private Member’s Bill which, as I am sure you are aware, has a very small chance of becoming law due to the lack of time given over to debate these Bills. I suggest that if you wish you can raise your concerns with the sponsor of the Bill, Geraint Davies MP.

I am sure he would be interested to hear your views on his Bill and would be happy to explain what he is trying to achieve from it.

Thank you for writing to me and raising your concerns.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Sarah Wollaston

 

_______________________________________________________

The Letter:

Flat 1, 32 Nevern Square

Earl’s Court

London SW5 9PE

E: Je.lacanian@icloud.com

23rd August 2018

 

 

Dr  Sarah Wollaston MP

Chair of the Parliamentary Health Committee

House of Commons

London

SW1A 0AA

 

Dear Dr Wollaston,

 

I am writing to draw the Parliamentary Health Committee’s attention to the negative consequences of the Counsellors and Psychotherapists (Regulation) and Conversion Therapy Bill 2017-19[i]

 

This Bill does two things:

to provide that the Health and Care Professions Council be the regulatory body for counsellors and psychotherapists;

to prohibit conversion therapy; to make related provision for the protection of children and adults; and for connected purposes.

 

This is a Private Members’ Bill and was presented to Parliament on Wednesday 18 July 2018. The second reading, is scheduled to take place on Friday 26 October 2018.

 

It is not based on a need for the following reasons:

– Statutory regulation under the HCPChas been rejected for good reasons, Currently the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) system of Accredited Voluntary Registers(AVRs) provides an exceptionally high level of regulatory oversight. If the proposed bill is passed, then there will be a repetition of all the lobbying against it (2008-2011).

None of the criticisms of the PSA scheme, on which the bill is built, would be definitively tackled by statutory regulation under the HCPC as the HCPC has procedures and regulations that do not fit easily with the practice of psychotherapy.  Indeed, statutory regulation would limit the diversity of practices available and regulated.  This limits the choice of those seeking help.

 

– the situation within the regulated professions of psychotherapy and counselling is that the open practice of conversion/reparative therapy has ceased. To offer such therapy is an ethical offence that could lead to striking off the register. Why are you seeking to legislate where the problem has already been tackled?  Where does the false assumption that this Bill will eliminate all bad practices come from?

 

My concern is that this Bill conflates two issues: the question of conversion therapy and how to regulate psychotherapy and counselling and solves neither.  I predict that if this Bill goes forward, it will not solve the problem of those who want to provide conversion therapy or prevent them from so doing.  You have no evidence to contradict my prediction.

 

Remember, all major counselling and psychotherapy bodies have signed a have signed a memorandum of understanding[ii] condemning the practice.  What further does this Bill add?

 

Historically some practices, have sought to impose the one standard relationship between a man and a woman, on all. This is a small but politically powerful minority of practices, and they, too, are making the necessary revisions to theory and practice. In the 1960s & early 1970s conversion therapy was available on the NHS and sometimes involved electric shock treatment. It was found not to work.

 

Two articles which give further information:

 

Psychotherapy and issues of sexuality : We need to make it clear that if you come to psychotherapy wishing to explore issues of sex and sexuality you will still be able to do so, writes Prof Andrew Samuels : The Guardian : 8thAugust 2018 : here   https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/aug/08/psychotherapy-and-issues-of-sexuality

 

‘I still have flashbacks’: the ‘global epidemic’ of LGBT conversion therapy : It sounds like a historical horror, but ‘treatment’ for sexual orientation remains legal in most of the world, including the UK : The Guardian : 8thAugust 2018 :  here   https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/aug/08/i-still-have-flashbacks-the-global-epidemic-of-lgbt-conversion-therapy

 

Quote : The momentum to end the practice is growing, however. The UK government recently announced a commitment to ban it, following a Church of England vote last year that condemned the practice. All major counselling and psychotherapy bodies, as well as the NHS, have signed a memorandum of understanding condemning the practice.

 

What does this piece of legislation add and what does it prevent?

This assessment of the proposed Bill, has not been done…. Here, off the top of my head, is my attempt:

What additional safeguards are added by this Bill?

None. Conversion Therapy is condemned by the Church of England, all major counselling and psychotherapy bodies and the NHS. Those that practice outside of these bodies will just continue so to do, but invisibly. I understand that there are already Laws which cover psychological abuse, and these can be used to prosecute.

 

What are the effects on those who practice currently?

– if you arrive in therapy/counselling, wishing to explore issues of sex and sexuality, then you should be free so to do without the interference of the law.

– if your choice of partner changes during the treatment, then this must be kept free of a law on ‘conversion therapy’ and not put the therapist at risk of prosecution.

– a Law forbidding a topic, unhappiness with your current position – maybe sexual, maybe in life, puts at risk the work that practitioners do. It also may send out signals that the sufferer is prohibited from seeking help on this topic.

 

I strongly recommend that the Health Committee oppose this Bill, in whatever way is possible.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Julia Evans

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst, Earl’s Court, London

 

Endnotes

[i] See https://services.parliament.uk/bills/2017-19/counsellorsandpsychotherapistsregulationandconversiontherapy.html

[ii]See https://www.psychotherapy.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Memorandum-of-understanding-on-conversion-therapy.pdf

 

Related Texts

Politics, ethics, regulation and the talking therapies : current positions emerging from Parliamentary debate by Julia Evans on 20thNovember 2013 or here

Use of power here

Ethics here

UK Government here

Responses to the UK Government action here

Government action here

Lacanian Transmission : here

By Sigmund Freud here

Notes on texts by Sigmund Freud : here

By Jacques Lacan here

Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan here

Of the clinic here

Some Lacanian History : here

Topology : here