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
- Extend the memorandum of understanding to include trans people (trans being an umbrella term to include non binary and gender questioning individuals)
- Include a need for competency around GSD issues in BACP accredited counselling training.
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
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
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
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
MR N. P. GILDER MBACP 767101
Alex Drummond Snr Accred BACP
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
Kamalamani MBACP (Accred).