An open letter to the BACP

The history of LGBTQ+ people and the counselling and psychotherapeutic professions is a history of pathologization, distrust and very often immense harms. Since 2015 some protection has been offered to LGB people in the UK from conversion therapy. Trans people were deliberately excluded from this protection. This weekend over 80 therapists, mental health professionals, students, and LGBTQ+ organisations are sending an open letter to the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy to call for trans people to be added to the memorandum on understanding on conversion therapy, and for better training on LGBTQ+ issues.

To: The Governors of the BACP

We, the undersigned, wish to express our deep unease with the attitude of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy to issues of gender and sexual diversity. In particular it is very worrying that after a year of consultation there seems to be no movement on adding protection from conversion/reparative therapy to trans people. Nor does it seem that the BACP appreciates fully the need for training to include an understanding of gender and sexual diversity.

Findings by Jane Hunt (2013) found that there was a perception among some trans people that counsellors may not have experience of working with trans people, may try to link any psychological problems to being trans, or may actually express transphobic views.The ScotTrans report, Macneil et al (2012) found that 84% of respondents had contemplated suicide at some point in their life. It also reported that 66% of respondents had sought therapy for issues not related to their gender. Both Hunt  (2012) and Macneil recorded many incidences of people being discouraged from seeking therapy by negative experiences directly related to their being trans. Pollock’s research (2015) found that 18% of suicidal trans people were discouraged from seeking counseling due to a fear of a counsellor being transphobic. According to the Transgender Equality Network Ireland report (2013)  “Speaking from the Margins”, 40% of trans people were discouraged from seeking crisis support or counselling by previous experiences. Even of those who had positive experiences of counselling it was reported that their therapist was not knowledgeable about trans people and saw being trans as the main issue (even if the respondent did not feel it was.)

Given the evidence that both in practice, and perception trans people experience the talking therapies as a negative, hostile or transphobic space in so many instances, we call upon the BACP to send a clear message that in order to comply with the Ethical Framework members must not offer conversion therapy (here defined as therapy to change someone’s feelings around their gender identity so that they conform with the gender which was assigned at birth). There seems no logical, or ethical reason to exclude trans people from the memorandum of understanding which the BACP signed in 2015 for LGB people.

Furthermore we believe that in order to fulfil the requirement of Justice, as described in the Ethical Framework, training should reflect the need to understand GSD communities including Asexuality, which has often been pathologised or seen as a condition which needs to be “cured” in a way that parallels the historical attitude towards LGB people.

“Justice: the fair and impartial treatment of all clients and the provision of adequate services

The principle of justice requires being just and fair to all clients and respecting their human rights and dignity. It directs attention to considering conscientiously any legal requirements and obligations, and remaining alert to potential conflicts between legal and ethical obligations. Justice in the distribution of services requires the ability to determine impartially the provision of services for clients and the allocation of services between clients. A commitment to fairness requires the ability to appreciate differences between people and to be committed to equality of opportunity, and avoiding discrimination against people or groups contrary to their legitimate personal or social characteristics. Practitioners have a duty to strive to ensure a fair provision of counselling and psychotherapy services, accessible and appropriate to the needs of potential clients”

We also note that in the updated  Ethical Framework, due to be released in June 2016 The quality of Respect says “recognise when our knowledge of key aspects of our client’s background, identity or lifestyle is inadequate and take steps to inform ourselves from other sources where available and appropriate, rather than expecting the client to teach us

The beginning of this process of learning should surely take place with student counsellors, and be embedded in the values which the Framework espouses. To ignore GSD individuals, or to see the issues they face as not relevant to why they may be accessing therapy seems to contradict the quality of respect.  

To sum up we call upon the BACP to

  1. Extend the memorandum of understanding to include trans people (trans being an umbrella term to include non binary and gender questioning individuals)
  2. Include a need for competency around GSD issues in BACP accredited counselling training.

SIgned by:

Aimee Challenor, Equalities (LGBTIQ) Spokesperson, Green Party of England and Wales,

Dr Meg John Barker Open University and Accredited UKCP

Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility steering group

Dr Petra Boyton

Roz Kavaneny

Stephen Paul Past Director The Centre for Psychological Therapies Leeds Metropolitan University

Lisa Harris BACP member 616446.

Rural Rainbow (LGBTQ+ community organisation)

Aaron Elmore (student counsellor)

Dr Edith Steffen, CPsychol, CSci, AFBPsS, HCPC reg Counselling Psychologist and Lecturer at Roehampton University

Alex Sanderson-Shortt.   BACP Member 705443.

Katie Linden BACP member 745138

Sam Hope Accredited MBACP

Bernd Leygraf, Consultant Psychotherapist RIMA, Senior Acc NCP, MAHPP, COSRT Accred, COSRT Accred Supervisor

Course Director London Diploma in Psychosexual and Relationship Therapy

Leah Davidson Clinical associate at Pink Therapy

Helen Dale (Tranzcare)

Karen Pollock  MBACP

Lorraine McGinla BACP member 593450. CORST trustee

Dominic Davies WPATH Senior Accredited member of the NCP. Chief exec of Pink Therapy.

Marianne Oakes MBACP

Dr Elizabeth M Day PDSP UKCP registered

George Taxidis MSc – MBACP

Olivier Cormier Ontano MBACP 604211

Keith Barber, UKCP Reg’d, BACP Reg’d.

Jenny Secretan MBACP (Snr Accred.)

Robert Haddock  MBACP   530268

Camilla Fry (student counsellor)

Theresa Brooks MBACP

Christine Andreasen, MBACP, 742976

Riva Joffe Therapist

Jenny Secretan MBACP (Snr Accred.)

Charlotte Cooper MBACP (Reg.)

Louise Futcher MBACP

Meirion  Todd, psychotherapist, registered member of the BACP, UKCP accredited psychotherapist (Existential)

Sue Griffiths MBACP

Joanna Russell MBACP

Michelle Lisbona

Jennifer Maidman MBACP ,  Associate Editor Self and Society

Phil Dore RMHN

P.Cox MBACP (Accred).

Deborah McCullough (Transgender Therapist & BACP Member)

Charlotte Wilcox BPS

Sheila Haugh Client-centred psychotherapist, supervisor,trainer/facilitator.  MBACP, UKCP

Anna Rose Retired Integrative Psychotherapist (UKCP)

Diana Mitchell UKCP registered psychotherapist

Amrit Sagoo MBACP

Samantha Messer MBACP DIP BA

Lauren Liebling, UKCP registered

Rev. Tosh Lynch RN, BA, MSc, MBACP (Accred), BSCH (Assoc), UKBHC

Jennifer Maidman MBACP ,  Associate Editor Self and Society

Jane Czyzselska, counsellor, MBACP

Rachel Yates. Trainee, London

Ronete Cohen MA MBACP Register number 145804, membership number 653218

Associate Member Pink Therapy

Julie Mark Ad Dip PC

Tarun Pamneja MBACP BPS UKCP

Siobhan Coogan Student member BACP

Juliet Grayson UKCP registered NLPtCA and COSRT Accredited therapist, NLPtCA and COSRT recognised supervisor

Jon Blend, Psychotherapist, BACP member.

Sarah Brown LGBT equality campaigner

J.Deacon Student Member of the BACP

Juliet Dwek, MBACP

Dianne Chipperfield, Psychotherapist, UKCP accredited

Hazel Elliott GPTI UKCP

George Tidey

Paul Atkinson UKCP Free Psychotherapy Network

Maggie Fisher BACP Senior Accredited Counsellor/Psychotherapist and Supervisor UKCP Registered Psychotherapist and Supervisor/Training Supervisor

Philippa Weitz MBACP 509982 Standards and Ethics Officer for ACTO

Gill Tunstall Accredited MBACP

Rebecca Margaret Slater BACP Student Member 799659


Kodi Maier.

Alex Drummond Snr Accred BACP

Richard Bagnall-Oakeley

Henry Strick van Linschoten UKCP

Kris Black LLB (Hons). UKCP & BACP registered Integrative Arts Psychotherapist. CSTD reg Supervisor. Clinical Associate Pink Therapy.

Dr Tamar Posner

BACP & UKCP Registered Psychotherapist & Supervisor TRS PCU

Keith Silvester, BACP Senior Accredited and UKCP Registered

Rik Meehan Member of The National Counselling Society

SISSY LYKOU UKCP registered psychotherapist ADMP registered dance movement psychotherapist Senior Lecturer, Edge Hill University

Guy Gladstone The Open Centre Group Psychotherapist UKAHPP

Jos Twist clinical psychologist Tavistock and Portman Trust BPS

Christopher Murray, MBACP Memb No 506790, Irish Association of Humanistic and Integrative Psychotherapy Accredited Irish Council for Psychotherapy Registered European Association for Psychotherapy, Certified Psychotherapist

Desnee Cunnane BACP accredited member 520335

Dr Els van Ooijen, UKCP Reg, BACP Accred.

Tina Welch Reg MBACP

Nick Field MBACP

Sarah J. Wilson  BACP

Amanda Williamson Accredited MBACP  

Charles Neal. UKCP accredited humanistic and formative therapist Founder and chair of first lgbt professional mental health network in the UK (ALGBP-UK)Facilitator of the world’s longest running gay & bi men’s therapy group.
Emma Martin MNACHP (retd) MBACP (retd) Adviser to NACHP on Gender Identity issues (retd)

L.J. Potter MBACP

Rowan Lyon Member No. 700596

Werner Valentin Accredited MBACP

Sam Feeney Reg. MBACP

Shirley Thatcher UKCP

Maria Johansson

Kamalamani MBACP (Accred).

Follow Karen on Twitter (@CounsellingKaz)




23 thoughts on “An open letter to the BACP

  1. Wow, I’m impressed and a bit shocked at a psychologist from Travistock & Portman signing this. Last time I heard, therapists at T & P were including trans people in books titled ‘Violence, Perversion & Delinquency’ and writing anti-trans letters to the Telegraph. It’s nice to see that attitudes can change.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Just a quick comment to what is an incredibly important letter and statement to make at this time. You’ve quoted there that it is the ‘Transgender Equality Network Northern Ireland’, but it’s actually ‘Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI)’. Although their work does cover Northern Ireland, they are mostly based in the South where I would imagine many of the counsellors are accredited with the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (counsellors in the North have the option to gain accreditation with the IACP instead of the BACP also). I’m absloutely sure it doesn’t make a difference to the sentiment of the letter, and UK based trans organisations/people were involved in putting the report together, and there may also be similar problems among awareness of trans issues in the South of Ireland just as much as the rest of the UK. I just wanted to let you know in case the difference is picked up by anyone else.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s not so much about Irish Therapists being recognised, more that as an open letter to the BACP, using the TENI report may not be entirely useful as many of the respondents in the report who were accessing counselling may have seen a counsellor who was accredited with IACP.


Have your say!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.