British Psychoanalytic Council
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The British Psychoanalytic Council is an association of training institutions, professional associations and accrediting bodies which have their roots in established psychoanalysis and analytical psychology. They bring together approximately 1400 practitioners of psychoanalytic and psychodynamic psychotherapy (including psychoanalysts, Jungian analysts and child psychotherapists) who as individuals become registrants of the BPC.
The BPC (then the British Confederation of Psychotherapists) was formed on 8 March 1992, emerging from the United Kingdom Standing Conference for Psychotherapy (now the UKCP) as a specifically psychoanalytically-oriented organisation.
It has an annual register of those practitioners who meet its fitness-to-practise standards. Promoting professional standards and acting as a voluntary regulator of the profession is a key role of the BPC. Its registrants work across the public, voluntary and private practice sectors; many are senior clinicians in the core mental health professions and make important contributions to research in this field.
The BPC accredits the trainings of its member institutions, ensuring that they meet published training standards. Some of these are member organisations of the International Psychoanalytical Association.
An individual who qualifies from one of these trainings is then eligible for entry into the BPC's register. BPC registration then continues to be governed by a range of fitness to practise requirements:
- The therapist must be a member of good standing of their own professional institution (which is a member institution of the BPC)
- They subscribe to and are governed by the BPC’s published Code of Ethics
- They are regulated by the BPC’s Complaints Procedure
- They must maintain an annual programme of continuing professional development (CPD), monitored and approved by the BPC, which includes consultation on their clinical work, attending lectures and courses and a broad range of professional activity.
Training and qualifications
The preparation and training for becoming a psychoanalytic psychotherapist is lengthy and rigorous. The British Psychoanalytic Council requires its member institutions to maintain high standards, particularly in the selection of those who want to become psychotherapists. Most applicants for training will already have a background in medicine, psychology or social work and will also have experience in the mental health field.
Safeguarding the public
The individual organisations that train psychotherapists have always been self-regulating. Over the last twenty years, however, there has been an increase in the number of institutions and range of psychotherapies on offer to the public. The British Psychoanalytic Council is one of a number of bodies which exist to protect the interests of the public by promoting standards in the selection, training, professional association and conduct of psychotherapists. It is the primary body for psychoanalytic psychotherapy in the UK.
The Government is in the process of creating a statutory framework for the registration of psychotherapists and psychoanalysts, by the Health Professions Council. It is anticipated regulation will come into force by 2011.
The BPC, together with each of its member institutions, aims to protect the public by setting out the appropriate standards of professional conduct, and a Code of Ethics, which describes the responsibilities of psychoanalytic psychotherapists. There are also comprehensive complaints and disciplinary procedures, which include the sanction of striking a practitioner off both their organisation’s membership list and the BPC’s Register. The detailed fitness to practise policies are all published on its website or are available from the BPC office.
Finding a therapist
If someone feels they need psychotherapeutic help, they may wish to get some professional advice on their treatment of choice. In the first instance, this may be their GP. Alternatively, they may find it useful to have an initial consultation with a psychotherapist who would be able to advise on the best approach. Most of its member organisations operate a referral service.
If they decide that psychoanalytic psychotherapy is the right choice for them, they can either contact a therapist directly or go through a referral service. It is preferable to use the BPC website as this will contain the latest updated information, including whether the therapist is still a BPC registrant in good standing.
Time in therapy
It is difficult to say how long treatment will take; it can vary from many months to several years. It therefore involves a substantial financial undertaking – although some practitioners offer reduced fee schemes. Each session lasts fifty minutes and may take place between one and five times a week.
Fees vary between practitioners. They are discussed before treatment begins and can be reviewed in the light of developments. Most practitioners charge on a sliding scale based on what a patient earns and can afford – fees between £35 and £70 are typical with regional variations.
Reduced fee schemes
In some areas, psychoanalytic psychotherapy is available at a reduced fee. This would normally require attendance of between three and five sessions a week. Experienced professionals who are completing their training whilst being supervised by a senior practitioner would usually provide the service. However some fully qualified therapists will offer a reduced fee and this can be discussed in the assessment interview.
Further information on psychotherapy
Psychoanalytic psychotherapy is a therapeutic process which aims to help people with distressing psychological situations and mental health problems. The process helps a person to understand these complex, and often unconsciously based, emotional and relationship problems. This can enhance their ability to manage their own feelings, life and their dealings with others, and by doing so can reduce symptoms and alleviate distress. Psychoanalytic psychotherapy creates a setting in which it is possible to experience and reflect on a person's difficulties as they manifest themselves in the relationship with the therapist which develops in the process of treatment. This form of therapy is not limited to dealing with what can be thought of as mental health problems. Many people who experience a loss of meaning at certain points in their lives or are seeking a greater sense of fulfilment can be helped by this approach.
Psychoanalytic psychotherapy is based on the observation that people sometimes try to deal with problems by trying to keep them out of their minds as a way of getting rid of them. However, they will continue to have an important effect on feelings and behaviour. Early experiences are important in shaping the way the mind works but a large part of our mind operates outside of one's consciousness. From an early age, people find ways of managing their experiences and this influences how we cope in later life. With the therapist's help a person can gradually come to understand these experiences and make sense of how we have dealt with them. This leads to a process of change, which takes place through the psychoanalytic session.
The relationship with the therapist is an important part of the therapy. He or she offers a confidential, safe and private place where the unconscious patterns of one's inner world can be played out. The safe setting that they create means that emotional conflicts can be relived and new solutions can be found to old problems. This process helps us to identify those patterns of behaviour, which we keep repeating. On becoming aware of old patterns, it then becomes possible to change them.
The psychoanalytic psychotherapist will reveal little about himself or herself. Although they may appear to be somewhat detached, the approach helps patients to express unconscious wishes and conflicts. The difficulties that patients may have in their lives, especially past conflicts, are reflected in the relationship between the therapist and ourselves. Although this experience can be uncomfortable, it is the basis for providing the kind of insights that help us to tackle problems.
List of BPC Member Institutions
- Association for Psychodynamic Practice and Counselling in Organisational Settings
- British Society of Couple Psychotherapists and Counsellors
- British Psychotherapy Foundation
- British Psychoanalytical Society Wiki:British Psychoanalytical Society
- Northern Ireland Association for the Study of Psychoanalysis
- Society of Analytical Psychology
- Scottish Association of Psychoanalytical Psychotherapists and * Human Development Scotland
- Severnside Institute for Psychotherapy
- The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust
- Tavistock Society of Psychotherapists
- The Tavistock Clinic
- Foundation for Psychotherapy and Counselling
- Psychiatric Bulletin, Richards and Sandler 17 (7): 440. (1993), http://pb.rcpsych.org/cgi/reprint/17/7/440