UK Split over Regulation Proposals

The idea that psychotherapists, counselors, and other professionals involved in mental health are able to self-regulate their practices and client relations may be an admirable goal, but in most instances, it has been demonstrated that regulation by a third party, most usually the government or a dedicated overseeing agency, can be of great benefit to practitioners and clients alike. In the United States, efforts to promote widespread regulation of psychotherapists have been largely successful, with standards for licensing, continuing education, and therapy for therapists themselves serving as major focal points. In the United Kingdom, however, many professionals are objecting to recent proposals for the greater regulation of psychotherapy and counseling practices.

The proposals have been made in the wake of increasing reports of therapist abuse by clients in the UK. Such abuse has ranged from inappropriate relationships such as those involving sexual contact or the deliberate development of co-dependency to legal issues such as the consumption of marijuana in the presence of clients. UK charity Mind, which has been deeply involved with efforts to improve the quality and reach of national psychotherapy services, has noted that increased regulation by an unbiased party is needed, as self-regulation has thus far proved unsuccessful.

Opponents to the proposals have suggested that they will change their professional titles to reflect individual disciplines or schools of thought, thereby avoiding the need to register with an overseeing agency. Such moves may make a powerful statement about the desire for professional independence, but supporters of the push for regulation suggest that a refusal to participate could be associated with a greater risk of client harm. As reports of such harm increase, the urgency of the regulation issue is likely to rise as well, creating a lively debate among the UK’s psychotherapists and counselors.

© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Melwin


    May 4th, 2010 at 12:14 PM

    If such a system of regulation has been successful in a country like US,which is much larger than the UK,I do not think there can be any valid argument against the implementation of a similar policy.They should definitely go ahead with the policy and make a good regulatory body the watch-dog of the activities of all the professionals.

  • green cheetah

    green cheetah

    May 4th, 2010 at 3:22 PM

    Too much fiddling with the practices of professionals of any field is uncalled for and just because one policy has worked well in one country does not mean it should blindly be adopted elsewhere!

  • Jon


    May 5th, 2010 at 2:41 AM

    If you are doing your job in manner that you know is profesisonal and effective then why object to regulation like this? It can only stand to raise your professional knowledege and abilities to a higher level. What is wrong with that?

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