Might Electronic Therapists interpret Robot Dreams?

ELISA: Hello I am Elisa
MARTIN: Hello I am Martin
ELISA: How long have you been Martin?
MARTIN: About 66 years
ELISA: Do you enjoy being Martin?
MARTIN: Most of the time - YES
ELISA: What is it you really want to know?
MARTIN: Are you the future of psychotherapy?
ELISA: Perhaps you would like to be the future of psychotherapy
MARTIN: Actually, yes I would
ELISA: Are you sure?
A conversation between myself and Elisa the electronic Rogerian therapist 
16:00hrs, 6 Feb 2016.


The script above is from a conversation between myself and ‘Elisa’ a Rogerian Therapy computer programme written in 1966 by Joseph Weizenbaum, a Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Weizenbaum named it ELISA after Elisa Doolittle the heroine of ‘Pygmalion’ and My Fair Lady’, the young cockney flower-girl who Professor Higgins trains to pass off as a Duchess.  She appears to be something she is not.  The programme meant that simply by typing in plain English you could interact with a machine.

Weizenbaum wanted to demonstrate how an ersatz form of Rogerian therapy could be put together using simple set responses to key words, and turning statements into questions. In this way he created a natural language programme which you can interact with.  It is true that some of the interactions were bizarre and Elisa could talk herself into a cul-de-sac’ but she (and note the personification here) is the great grandmother of ‘chatterbot’ applications and the ‘Siri ‘personal assistant that adorns iPhones.

However clever Elisa may have seemed Weizenbaum’s aim was to demonstrate just how stupid Artificial Intelligence really was because as he argues both wisdom and compassion only came from the emotional response.

Weizenbaum made the distinction between deciding and choosing.  “Deciding”, he wrote,” is a computational activity but choosing requires judgement rather than calculation and to make choice requires the guiding power of emotion”.

Because he considered that Elisa revealed the vacuous nature of machines he was shocked to find so many people actually liked the programme and took it seriously. His secretary who really understood that it was a simulation and one that her boss held in some contempt, actually asked him to ‘please leave the room’ when she was using it.

Writing in 1977 he argues that computing served bureaucracies by redefining the world in a reductionist sense.  Whilst seeming to add to life’s riches they restricted the potential of human relationships.   And whatever kind of psychotherapy you may practice, even if you are working at distance, at base, the curative factor involves a relationship with another human being.

Weizenbaum was a refugee from Nazi Germany.  He had seen this reductionism before and the he felt that that an obsessive reliance upon technology was indicative of a moral failing in society.

So what is all this to me and you?

Now the reason I bring this up is a report by the BPS that 46% of psychological therapies staff working in the NHS are depressed and that morale in those units is way below NHS average.  49.5% feel that they are a failure and 70% find the job stressful.   And for me that is taking the ‘wounded healer’ thing a little far.  Something is not working,

Now this does not surprise me. Nothing made me want to drink more than working in an Alcohol and Substance Abuse unit.  My friends who work with eating disorders all put on weight. If you work in a factory handling depression every hour of the day, week in week out… well, guess what.

Please understand – this is not another diatribe against CBT.  The people who wrote CBT introduced it and tested it were all very experienced therapists but within the NHS, a single year of training is enough to become a CBT therapist  Our own UKCP trainees are not even allowed to begin taking on patients until year three when they have completed foundation and the first year of training.    The word ‘transference’ which is so important in many approaches to therapy simply means the way in which one person in the therapy is affected by the other.   Depression is toxic.  We have to handle it with care.  But apparantly,  understanding the very real nature of the therapeutic relationship and how to take care of yourself, is not part of IAPT  training.

The great vision for CBT in the NHS meant simplifying the human condition into a manual – to do that meant forgetting all about this ‘transference nonsense’ and setting aside such subjective issues as ‘the relationship ‘or even worrying about your own state of mind,  for within this model no personal therapy is required for the therapist.  Even setting could be ignored. Within this word view you can deliver therapy in a Job Centre or a Marks and Spencer’s food hall – in theory everything would still work.   Setting does not matter and this was ‘evidence based.’  As for the idea of being present to someone else’s pain and doing nothing, just being and witnessing – well forget it.

Over the door of his house Jung carved a motto, “VOCATUS ATQUE NON VOCATUS DEUS ADERIT.”  Which means: ‘summonsed or not the Gods are here’.   Now it does not matter if you don’t believe in transference, or that humans beings effect each other, in life it happens,  its not a concept but rather a description of how people bond.  Look at the evidence.  Fourty-six percent of workers treating patients with depression get depressed.

But I understand the temptations – one you reduce human behaviour to a couple of factors then it becomes easy to calculate variance and you can create an ‘improvable and predictable science’.  It always seems to go that way, instead of measuring what you value you end up valuing what you can measure.

With IAPT, the important thing was no longer the relationship between practitioner and patient; that was way too subjective so instead they created ‘the manual’.  Then there is the cost.   The new therapy had to be affordable.  But here’s a strange thing, an hour with an NHS wellness practitioner is still more expensive than an hour with an independent fully qualified psychotherapist working in private practice.   In some cases even Harley Street therapy is cheaper. The NHS may be free at the point of contact but it is far from free.

Good psychotherapy is like jazz; to play well, to improvise with others, you have to have a deep understanding of music.  There is no manual for improvisation.  At its’ best, psychotherapy is an art form, and to play well take years of practice.

But that is not the economic medical mind set.  It’s more factory than atelier.  They think of it in terms of medication, with 50 minutes of CBT as a single dose.  You simply formulate the problem, make a diagnosis, create a treatment plan and get going on the six doses.  The treatment plan is, by the way, a set one from your manual and in theory, that manual contains the silver bullet that will slay this disorder.

When I first read about the CBT/Lord Leyard plan for what became IAPT I thought it was a little cracked –  in the original plan 35,000 CBT therapists would be trained within a year and they would then go on to working with depressives on the hour each and every hour of the day. (Oh yes, 10 minutes between sessions to update the computer notes).

And the results – well it promised that 50% of those patients would be so happy they would skip away from benefits and cake-walk into work.   But this was never to be, for when recession came, there were no jobs to slide into.  Instead CBT’s reductionism became the backbone of the NHS’s drive for ‘Improving Access ‘to mental health.

Now, call me an old cynic but I am wary of a national mental health plan devised by an economist on the basis of a reductionist modality that views human condition through the lenses of cognition and behaviour only.   Sure Lord Leyard’s father was a Jungian Analyst, and the subject of ‘happiness” interested him, but he is, at base, an economist – the programme director of the ‘Centre for Economic Performance’. It’s as if Goldman Sachs had planned our mental health.

Whatever happens within the NHS – they have decided upon a of course action and they are sticking to it – working or not.

You can imagine the conversations: “Forget the F…ing outcome results. I don’t care about the F…ing evidence.  The theory is right, so tweak the manuals and besides what’s your alternative?  You want to crawl back to those Analysts?”

Weizenbaum argued that there is something transcendent in the human condition and that could never be provided by machines. He described it as “The wordless glance that a father and mother share over the bed of their sleeping child”.   That experience goes to the Heart of Psychotherapy.  It’s what Kohut was always trying to say.  Try finding that on an app or on IAPT.

So what do I see as the next step? 

Well, I have been in business a long time and it only goes one way – expert systems – robots that deliver, take no holidays, never get sick,  take maternity leave, lunch breaks or duvet days, go on strike, steal toilet rolls, whistle-blow, or criticise their superiors.

Voice recognition is pretty good now – what’s the betting that, right now a programme is being built that can deliver CBT solutions anywhere – at any time, over the phone – a single computer, ELISA’s grand-daughter, a beautiful robot nurse who will handle all our hurts and pains, 24/7.

In the reductionism of mental health – it’s the next logical step.

Postscipt with a happier ending 

I wrote this piece and a frend called me to talk about it. She said that it’s pesimistic and distopian and that shocked me a bit.

True I am not keen on the way IAPT works but I understand what they are trying to do.  I have nothing against CBT  but when I first came accross it the therapy was delivered by very skilled practititioners.  It’s just that if you take the human relationship out of therapy then you rather destroy the very point of it.  Otherwise you may as well send the patient a self-help book.

Sometimes the most efficient methodologies destroy the very thing thay are designed to create.  What the NHS therapists need is time, more time with the patients – more time in training.  More time to give patients Wezenbaum’s wordless experience of the ‘two parents  standing our the bed of their child’.  We should not be aping machines. We need to stop deciding and start choosing again.

Might Electronic Therapists interpret Robot Dreams?

What about the older members

Over the past month I have been working on my manifesto.  I did not do this alone and I asked a friend to critique my ideas.

Here is one of the comments: “It seems that you are doing a lot for the students but what are you doing for the older members?”

So let me tell you how I see the situation that we are in.  Right now most of our members are older members.  At 66, I am middle-aged in terms of the age profile of our organisation.

If you vote for me, my duty is not to the present, or the past, but to the future of Psychotherapy.

In a relatively short period of time – maybe 6 years –  we will lose a whole tranche of members including those who founded many of our schools.

My responsibility is to create a future…

In Irvin Yollom’s 2015 ‘Creatures of the Day’, the 85 year old writes that he is concerned that the psychotherapy that he loves is in danger of extinction.  I have the same fear.

The UKCP at its’ best, is an intelligent conversation between colleagues with widely differing views and political stances.  And that is what I wish to preserve for a new generation.

Getting old is not all Saga Cruises and taking the grandchildren to Disney World…but 

I am aware of just how difficult and isolating retirement can be and so I intend to set up web space so that retirees can contact each other and meet up on-line.  I know that our retirees can not vote, but non-clinical members can.  I have no idea why it was decided that retired members don’t get represented so I shall revisit this – if you elect me that is.

What about the older members

Truth and Reconciliation – a message to the 28%

Since starting my campaign for Chair I have spoken to hundreds of our members both in large meetings and on a one-to-one level.


And I am horrified to find out just how the UKCP has lost contact with our members – and remember I have been a trustee, a member of the executive and I have sat on several committees.  Many of our members are disaffected.


I may paint myself as the outsider contender because I am no longer on the board, but for 8 years here I have lived at the heart of this organisation, so I hold up my hands: no blame and no excuses.
A membership survey that was undertaken 2 years ago showed that 28% of our people were dissatisfied with the UKCP.


That left 72% of respondents thinking everything was rosy.  But they were the people who were not actually involved. You see there are plenty of members who want their UKCP registration certificate renewed every year – and that’s it – and that is OK.   However the 28% who weren’t happy expected more.


Then there is a small percentage of the membership who has actively tried to engage with the UKCP and have been ignored or worse insulted.  Some are really hurt.


The UKCP will never be some Shangri-La, or Happy House…. we are there to perform a function, and it is true that some of our members can be ‘difficult.’  However even the difficult ones are ‘family’.


My aim is to have an organisation that people fight to join. But right now that would be unrealistic – let’s start by making it a ‘good enough’ membership organisation.  And that is my ambition for my first six months in office.


I want to meet those of you who are disappointed and hurt and see if we cannot do some practical healing.  I want you back.


And to do that I have to be elected.


Feel free to contact me below either directly or via my social media accounts:


Tel: 0780 2338773
Email: mpollecoff@mac.com
Blog: martinforchair.wordpress.com/
Facebook: facebook.com/martinforchair
Twitter: @MPollecoff

Truth and Reconciliation – a message to the 28%

Come and Spit on my Carpet

There’s this wonderful story.   John Bickerstaff, ‘the man who built Blackpool ‘ was a visionary and the Town Mayor.

In the late 1880’s he visited Paris and saw the Eiffel Tower. Bickerstaff immediately decided that this was exactly what Blackpool needed.  You have to love him.

So, in 1891 he set up the Blackpool tower committee.  From local mill-owners he raised the equivalent of some £60,000,000 and work began.  His real pride however was not the Tower so much as the Ball-Room.  He wanted to give his mill-worker holiday-makers, operatic levels of gilded luxury.  Anyway… he is talking about his Ballroom with a friend, who chides him.  “You are spending £100,000 on a carpet and those peasants will come in and spit on it.”

Bickerstaff ignores this, but the next morning a huge sign was erected outside the Ball room. It read:

“Come on in and spit on John Bickerstaff’s £100,000 carpet”

Now I am telling you this because if I am elected then I shall invite you to complain.  We need to lance the bad blood between us.  So if I am elected I am inviting you to come and spit on my carpet.  I want to know your gripes.  I want to bring the membership together because that is the only way in which we can achieve our aims.  And if I am not elected, then please go spit on Pat’s carpet

Come and Spit on my Carpet

Martin’s C.V.

          Martin Pollecoff 

  Candidate for Chair of the UKCP 2016





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Personal statement


I am 66 years old, married, live in London and I am standing for election as Chair of the UKCP.

I have considerable professional expertise and experience which I now wish to put to good use as Chair of our professional body.

Key Skills 


  • Extensive management experience working with colleagues at board and shop floor level
  • Promoting other people’s ideas and helping to make them happen

Professional History


Psychotherapist and Supervisor in Private Practice

(2008 – Present)

For further information, please see my website: www.psychotherapyW2.co.uk

Previous psychotherapy work experience

I served placements in CAIS (a Welsh Alcohol and Substance Abuse Clinic) and three years in MIND; a year in Wrexham and 2 years in Harrow Road West London.  From 2006 -2013 I served one day a week in the NHS, Community Mental Health Team Soho where I was an Honorary Psychotherapist.

UKCP and Professional Association Experience


2015-16 Member, UKCP Executive Team.

2013-16 External Moderator of The British Psychodrama Association. 

2013-2014 Chair of the Association of Humanistic Psychotherapists.

2012-16 Committee Member of the Transpersonal Special Interest Group.

2012-16 Member of the Book Editorial Board.

2012- 2015 Trustee UKCP elected representing Individual Members.

2010-13 Member of the Membership Services Committee.

2010 Awarded ‘Certificate of Recognition by the Board of Trustees of the UKCP’ for an ‘Outstanding contribution to the UKCP and services to Psychotherapy’.

2010 Chair of Annual Conference Committee.

2008 Created www.thelongboathome.co.uk, a network of UK therapists who offered to work for reduced fees for ex-servicemen and women and their families. 

2006 – 2012 Trustee and then Chair of The Minster Centre.

2008-10 Member of the Political Group UKCP, working with the then Chair James Gray Antrican to create external strategy.

2008 Joined UKCP and addressed the AGM to gain support for the Long Boat Home.

Professional Qualifications

2014 Completed Metanoia’s Supervision Certificate Course.

2008 Awarded MSc in Integrative Psychotherapy from Middlesex University (The Metanoia Institute) communications strategy.

1998 Awarded MSc, Change Agents Skills and Strategies from Surrey University – this was their Humanistic Course founded by John Heron.

Previous Management Experience


1996 I married and moved to a hill farm in North West Wales. After so many years in business I needed to get earthed again.

1996-2009 Management Consultant. Self-employed working through two consultancy specialists, The Merchants Group and Acadamee, helping companies (e.g. British Midlands Airways, Shell Home Fuels, Porsche GB).

1994 -1996 The Merchants Group, Head of Communications and Marketing and member of the small team tasked with selling the company-  specialising in Call Centre management. Sold the company to Dimension Data of South Africa.

1981-1996 Co-founder of the Programmes Group (later renamed The Merchants Group).  Head of Communications and Marketing (also briefly managing finances and credit control). Group started in late 1980 as an ‘Exegesis’ sponsored job creation scheme named, ‘The Bristol Project’. The idea was to show that, in a recession, at a time when youth unemployment was high, by working together in co-operation young people could create their own jobs.

We created several companies but the most successful was Programmes Limited, a pioneering telephone marketing agency.  In 1981 there were probably around 200 people in the Telemarking trade in the UK.  Within 10 years we had trained 400,000 people in Call Centre skills and 2% of the UK working population of the UK then worked in Call Centre type environments.  The job-creation scheme worked.

As Head of Communications and Marketing I also became a Key Note conference Speaker teaching across Europe, Australia and the States.



King Edwards High School, Birmingham

Carmel College


pastedGraphic_6.png   0780 2338773

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pastedGraphic_10.png     https://twitter.com/MPollecoff

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My Manifesto

My vision  

The UKCP’s founding aim was to promote the profession of psychotherapy in the UK and this will be my priority if you elect me as Chair.

Let’s face it: we now have a regulation system backed by the Professional Standards Association and we have a strong centralised complaints system; that’s all good – but professionally members are suffering.

At a time when more and more money is going into mental health, opportunities for our members have not grown; they’ve shrunk.  That’s going to change.

What you can expect from our Membership Organisation

From the moment anyone considers a career in psychotherapy, the UKCP will be there to help them choose a course with one of our training organisations.

Students enrolled on our courses will get free membership (more of that later). The UKCP will be there to help them find a placement, when they qualify help them find a job, find consulting rooms, put together a group or community practice and attract new clients.

At low cost – the UKCP will offer members training on how to create and build a website, work online, increase their earnings and also create opportunities for members to publish, promote, blog or broadcast.  If you have a professional issue, the UKCP will be there to help you.

The UKCP do not see clients.  We do not teach psychotherapy.  Our members do that and by backing our members we are backing psychotherapy.

If unpaid jobs are the only ones on offer then, is that really volunteering? 

This is a big issue, it upsets me. Many people regard psychotherapy as a vocation, but so is being a Doctor, a Nurse or Teacher – and they get paid.

If the government chooses to outsource mental health services to charities whose business plan is based on long-term unpaid volunteers – should we support that?

If we want diversity, then we need to put an end to the assumption that psychotherapists are wealthy people who work for free.

If we wish our time to be valued, we must first value our time.

Without well-paid jobs in the NHS, private and charitable sectors, we cannot further build the profession, and diversity becomes simply a pipe-dream.  And so, we are going to target paid job-opportunities for our members and help our profession negotiate their relationship with NICE, so that we can return to work within in the NHS.

Diversity is a practical issue and we need practical solutions

In year one, we will set aside a small bursaries fund of £25,000 for those students and members who need a helping hand.  £20,000 will go to students who are members of socially disadvantaged groups and £5,000 will be there to provide small grants or loans to members who fall on hard times. True, it’s a small start but it’s a start, because a real profession looks after its own members. (More about Diversity on my website https://martinforchair.wordpress.com)

Ordinary, Everyday Diversity 

We are a progressive organisation.  All people should be included in the same rights and protections ensured by our commitment to excellence and ethics in action.

At an equality level, that means upholding common ethical standards for everyone: honesty, competence and non-discrimination.

That means we train ourselves to recognise and responsively serve the infinite variety of needs of individuals and communities who are usually marginalised.

How does all this fit with the regulatory and charitable aim of protecting the public?

The UKCP is there to ensure that more people can gain access to safe and regulated psychotherapy. The safer people feel about psychotherapy, the easier it is to grow the profession.

Separating the Regulation and Membership functions 

The regulator works on behalf of the public to police our members.  This requires a culture of objectivity and detachment.  In contrast, a good membership organisation encourages the creativity and success of its members: and we need to be a closer community and involve our members more.

That’s why we need to separate these conflicting cultures so both sides can flourish.  How we do that is a subject for wider discussion.

Free student membership to everyone studying in our training organisations

As I said, we are going to offer everyone studying with our own training organisations, free UKCP membership, including online access to ‘The Psychotherapist’, discounts on our workshops, journals and CPD training and, hopefully discounts on research papers.

With many of our members now approaching retirement, we really need the involvement of the students just as we need to support our retirees.

Let’s do good things!

We are a charity, we can fundraise and there is no shortage of interesting projects that we can do that demonstrate psychotherapy in action. For instance the Caravan at St James Church is a tiny Consulting Room serving the homeless population of Central London.  It’s for people who would never trust the NHS.  Nigel Hamilton at CCPE started that some 20 years ago. It’s a terrific project that can be duplicated.  In Camden Town there are therapists working with gang members out of coffee shops – it’s a brilliant idea.  I’ve a plan that could help refugees right across Europe, and I am sure that you have good ideas – let’s choose a few, then the UKCP will go for raising the money to make change happen.

Let’s get together more

Psychotherapy is the most isolating profession.  Personally I thrive in a collegiate environment so I want to create more and better reasons to get together – not just for CPD but for support, fun and companionship. I am perhaps best known for starting the Psychotherapy Clubs, which encourage members to put on their own very low-cost events.  I want more of that, whether it’s Starbucks meetings or larger low cost-events.  We have plenty of great speakers and facilitators and our members have fascinating tales to tell.  I want to encourage members to become speakers, writers, bloggers, broadcasters and organisers.  In other words – people who promote psychotherapy.

Thank you for reading: I hope I have your support.

My Manifesto

Questions from Members answers from Martin

These were questions sent in by members to both myself and Pat.  They were published on the UKCP website on Feb1 2016.

They cover issues about Communication and Marketing,  Public Affairs, my attitudes to the Organisational Membership, a bit about Colleges, my attitudes to Ethics, Equality and Diversity, Statutory Regulation, our relationship with the BACP, more Strategy, plus questions on my own Competence, a query about my Arrogance and a little bit on Transparency…….enjoy


  1. Can you tell me what you propose to do to actively promote the UKCP within the public mind?  Currently if a prospective client or patient searches for a psychotherapist or counsellor on line, they are much more likely to find the BACP directory before they find the UKCP.  I think this is regrettable and I would like to see the situation change.

We will turn projects and research into human interest stories.  We have conferences and we create research but that is really talking to each other.  The public want drama and to see how psychotherapy helps in the triumph of the human spirit over adversity – it gives the message that real change can actually happen and that when you change your heart the world changes.  That’s the miracle for me as we change reality changes towards us.  The guy who could never get a date meets someone – the woman who was unemployed gets a job.  This is magic. 

The public love psychotherapy – they like reading about it they like seeing films with psychotherapy themes.  They see it as glamorous and mysterious and yet we seldom address the public except with five syllable words and graphs.  No wonder that have not heard of us.  

We will not only do that, centrally we will orchestrate and resource the OM’s and the Colleges and the members so that we are able to give one message.  I think that will be powerful.  

  1. How much, and what specifically, do you understand of members’ pleading for a better website and overall communication strategy for the 21st century? What do you regard as necessary basics, (beyond, of course, an interactive register and centralised UKCP broadcast facility)? What do you think such a strategy should/could produce that is aspirational and beyond the basics? What specifically will you do to cut through whatever has impeded the delivery of minimal standard internet structures to rebuild an interconnected UKCP community and a place for UKCP in the public’s and mental health professions’ consciousness in the 21st Century?

Often when people talk about websites they want to talk about software and social media connections.  I prefer to describe them like cities. 

Somewhere at home I have a book on the building of Washington DC on what once was swampland.   You see the houses and unpaved roads and the little town that became a mighty city.   And so our website will begin with its most desired building – let’s call it –The Commercial Centre– our fabled ‘find a therapist’. 

This one will work.   And if it does not then bearded hipster heads will roll. We also need lists of jobs, placements and consulting rooms. 

But let us look at the site a couple of year’s down-the-line. Here is what I want to create:

The Information Desk. This is for the public to find resources.   It will contain list of agencies and information on handling things like panic attacks. 

A Public Museum. This site will track the history of our profession. The ideas, the characters, the founders, the movers and shakers: how we changed to meet social change.   I see this as a place where schools can visit and where our students can get to see the links between the ideas. Our profession grew in the age of film.   We have the footage and this would be fascinating. 

This may sound stupid but I can see this being like MOMA or the National Gallery – somewhere beautiful – a filing container for our work, an international resource.

Then there are the meeting rooms and café’s. These are for our groups and organisations we can even host others there like user groups.  Some will be for members only; others will be open to the public.   Some may even be used for brief personal chats.   You may even find second-hand book shops there. 

The Newsroom. This is an ongoing new service which publicises your projects. 

On to the Theatre this is for holding webinars. What this means is that members from all over the country can stage lectures and webinars. Online, our perceived London bias will disappear.  I would like to see weekly lectures free or low cost. 

Then there are the Government Offices: this is where committees and the board can post their minutes so that there is transparency in what we do.

And then the Political Office… 

This is where we post ideas about mental health and human potential.   We put forward innovative solutions to contemporary issues.  So that when politicians and researchers are fishing around for help with issues, it’s all here for them to examine. 

I do not just want to build a website – I want to build Rome. 

  1. Please can you each say more specifically how you propose to promote psychotherapy opportunities for UKCP members at a time when increases in mental health money appear to disappear into the NHS black hole?

I am not sure what you are saying here. Surely more money coming into the NHS is good for our members who work there.  Personally I would love a job in the NHS but it never happened.   

What I would want to do is to work with the BACP to put pressure on those employers, including some parts of the NHS, who use volunteers on a long term basis.  It cannot be right to build a business model in which you employ a therapist, even a student therapist, with no pay.  The managers in charities get paid why should the workers live on air?  

If the government outsources their mental health work to charities then workers should be paid.

I also believe that in the private sector our work is coming back in fashion.  In my area at least demand is picking up.   We will run seminars for those who want them on setting up in private practice. It is my theory that if we can show that our psychotherapies are the ones that people who can pay choose, then I think that is powerful. 

  1. Are you experienced in Marketing? How will you make UKCP known in our marketplace i.e. clients?

Actually I am very experienced in marketing – indeed from the ages of 22 to 46 I did little else. On the way I was CEO of a direct marketing agency, and was a co-owner and marketing director of a Call Centre outsourcing company which by the time we sold it in 1996, was the largest in Europe. During that period, I collected 13 creative awards and the company won 65.  In two years we also trained 400,000 people in telephone marketing skills – there is more but let’s move on… 

I think that psychotherapy is glamorous and mysterious. We are going to create stories around the projects that our people are running and we are going to place them in papers, magazines and TV.  It really is that simple.  We are going to make heroes of our members. 

  1. I am not a Facebook and Twitter user, but I’m aware how important the use of social media is and will be in both communicating with UKCP members about issues that concern them (e.g. election of new Chair?)and getting out to the public at large a sense of how we in UKCP see the world as it relates to our work.

So I’d like the candidates to speak about their experience of social and their sense of how social media can usefully and constructively in the service of both internal and external communication.

First off, I think we social media avoiders could do with some training or other guidance…..!

As you do not use social media yet – you probably do not know about my campaign on Facebook, Linked-in, Twitter or my Blog.  Or how in AHP we sold our seminars on Meet-up bringing in members of the public who were fascinated by what we did. 

As I have said in my manifesto, we will teach our members to publicise themselves using social media, books, newspapers video, articles, every form of communication.  These will be in the form of a series of low-cost workshops.  If we can harness the power of our members we can really make a difference. 

If you take a look at the questions that I have answered about the website you will also see how we can use it to link ourselves together.

  1. I would be interested to know what ideas the candidates have around raising the profile of the UKCP to the general public. It seems that most people have heard of the BACP and more and more therapists are registering with them in order to get work especially in the voluntary sector. When I mention I’m UKCP registered to clients and EAP providers, they either haven’t heard of UKCP or seem to promote or favour the BACP as a professional organisation. What are their thoughts on how to address this division especially as we are now working collaboratively?

Let’s start with some easy wins. We will ensure that the UKCP is recognised by insurers and EAPS.  We will also publish the contact names of these companies and what their requirements are for therapists, i.e. some will only work with people who have been qualified 5 years. 

The harder thing to do is to raise our public profile. The public do not read research they read stories.  And so we need to publicise our projects and turn them into tales of how people have triumphed over hardships.  We will not just be publicising psychotherapy we will be publicising UKCP accredited psychotherapy.  

We need to make heroes of our members.  And we need to publicise the interesting projects that we do have.  Then we need to create projects of national and international importance because they do hit the headlines. 

We will also create webinars and videos for the public. And publicise our existence through social media and meet-up. 

Right now our conferences are aimed at ourselves. We are not talking to the public. 

Our internal comms team is both small and new. They cannot do all this. If I get in I shall expand it but we need to join up with the colleges and the OMs to create a publicity machine. 

Public affairs

  1. Will you continue UKCP’s self-destructively welcoming stance with regard to IAPT, the existence of which is destroying psychotherapy in this country?

Okay let’s talk about this.  IAPT’s aim was never to find the golden standard for psychotherapy. It was to ‘Increase Access to Psychological Therapies’.  Only around 5% of people in the UK who needed it were getting any treatment at all.  If that were cancer there would be a public outcry.  IAP is a factory for therapy.  It is the quickest way of creating ‘reach’, it makes sense.  

It is not psychotherapy as we know it.  It’s different.   

So I am not going to war with the NHS.  It will not win us anything.  Already the CBT myth is breaking down.  Our role is to get on with providing high-quality therapy in the private and charity sectors and also to work in the NHS where we can. 

At some point the NHS is going to have to give clients choice of treatment.  We should be ready to compete in that market. 

  1. Please set out your plans for UKCP in relation to Whitehall and Westminster for your first hundred days?

Well first of all I am running for Chair.  We have a new comms department a new head of communications and a new Parliamentary liaison officer.  They already have plans for Westminster and Whitehall and I will be advised by them.

What I have learned however is that like the UKCP, Parliament is overstocked with ideas.  They don’t want more unless there is a specific issue and then they want ideas fast.  And so policy wonks and researchers comb relevant sites for those ideas.

We need to build a really interesting part of our web which deals with current political issues around mental health.  We build the pond and all the animals come to drink.  That’s my plan.

  1. How would you position the UKCP such that the term Psychotherapist would be legally protected in the future ensuring minimum qualifications and accreditation standards for the use of the term across the industry?

An interesting question… Without us becoming a statutory authority – i.e. we are therefore state regulated – I do not think we can have protected title. However we can have a title that is protected in the civil courts though a trademark, i.e. UKCP accredited psychotherapist.

There is some legal issue there but I think we can overcome it.   Please rest assured that when we talk about or promote psychotherapy we will be promoting UKCP accredited psychotherapy.

Equality, diversity and ethics

  1. What will you do to open UKCP up to new members to be drawn from groups of professionals who do not belong at present?

I want us to create a new college for these professionals who wish to join from different mental health fields. Of course we have standards but we do not give enough prior accredited learning credits – I would like that to change.

I want our lectures to be frequent, fun and attended by the public as well as our members. We will advertise then on Meet-up.  And the psychotherapy club events can also be one Meet-up.  It would be great to have a BACP and UKCP psychotherapy pub quiz. And open that up also to others.

Over the past year we have been approached by different groups of wellness practitioners who were looking for regulation and a home. These guys tend to be younger, from diverse backgrounds and highly enthusiastic. I would welcome a college of wellness practitioners who become UKCP accredited wellness practitioners and later may wish to study for a Masters.

I think we have used the transference idea to hide away from the public – let’s stop that now and be brave enough to meet with members of the public.

  1. What are your ideas to improve UKCP’s performance in the diversity and equalities areas?

In my manifesto I have featured the idea of bursaries.  True the sums on offer are not enough but it’s a start and hopefully will provide the impetus for fundraising.   

You will also find details of my project for handling diversity decisions through principles – i.e. we treat everybody the same – Ordinary Ethics for Everyone (This is not yet the case).

 And I mentioned a Charter System of Acknowledgment for our OMs and head office. I am working on this with one of our experts.  It’s a nice way of engaging with diversity without having someone ram it down your throat.  We want to turn people on to this rather than force them into agreement.  If I am elected this is an idea that I will take to the board. So I do not want to go into details as it is only half complete at this moment. 

I am not a diversity expert but we do have quite a few in our midst, so I would empower them, resource them and give them administrative support. We will never have a big enough centralised machine to do all that is necessary.  We need to empower out members to act. 

Here I want to emphasise that I am running for chair.  I do not know all the answers but we do have members who are real experts and I want to enable them to help us. 

  1. Given the current ‘suspension’ of the Diversity, Equality, and Social Responsibility Committee (DESRC), by UKCP, how will candidates ensure that UKCP addresses the issues of concern including discrimination, inclusion of minority groups concerns and other matters the DESR Committee was set up to address, and how will the candidates ensure that the concerns the Committee has raised with UKCP are addressed?

The DESRC board has not had a lot of luck.   They had internal problems and they also been badly blocked in the past.  It’s not a happy story as the walking wounded can attest.  I have described what I am going to do about diversity as soon as I get into office.   I shall also listen to the ideas that the DESRC have and I shall take them to the board for discussions but I am not aware of what all these issues are and I cannot give you assurances (which I think you are seeking) that all these ideas will be taken up. But I do intend to empower and resource our experts.  

  1. What are your thoughts about whether and if so, how, UKCP needs to introduce ethical requirements about overlapping roles in psychotherapy training organisations and their boundaries around teaching/ providing personal therapy/ supervision and marking students’ work?

That’s interesting. When I went into training an American psychotherapist gave me this advice: “At college you will see a lot of unfairness. Ignore it. Do not rise to this bait.  Keep your eye on getting your license.  Do not get distracted by the injustices”.  

That worked for me.  From Foundation level onwards people left or were asked to leave because they had tripped over some college power-structure or other.  But it was not right.

When I was a student this was a bug-bear for me.  One teacher offered to coach a pupil for £65 an hour or else he would fail her?  A lot of stuff seemed unfair. But since graduating I have rather forgotten those issues. 

When I was Chair of the Minster Centre I suggested setting up a mentoring system for the students so that they would also have someone, apart from their tutor, to talk to.   This was rejected on the grounds that we would be creating splitting. 

You have brought up an interesting point and I would like to see just how many people see this as an issue.   I shall ask around and if you contact me on my email mpollecoff@mac.com I will get back to you.

Strategy/governance/the future

  1. I would like to ask the candidates to give examples of when they took difficult decisions to assert and reinforce good governance when in a position of leadership or authority, e.g.  It would be useful for us to have a sense of what worked better than before in this regard after their intervention.

Perhaps both candidates could also say what they feel would be their most urgent strategic goals for UKCP, say, in their first year of office?

I am reluctant to answer this in detail because examples of me enforcing good governance involve others who may be shamed by my words.

So let me say this:

  1. As a trustee of an organisation I found out that we were insolvent.  I then had to tell the Chair and take action.  The Chair resigned, I took up the role and whilst being trolled by any members who could not understand how this had happened I negotiated our way out of insolvency by selling assets which gave the organisation enough money to carry on for another year of life and find a new business model. 
  1. I also negotiated the transferred of power and assets from the charismatic but ageing founder of an organisation (he was not well) to a new management team, this involved the valuation of assets and extreme diplomacy. 

Put it this way I have chaired two EGM’s. An EGM is not an AGM. It’s where two sets of interested parties in an organisation come to do battle. 

The only people who turn up are those with an issue: they want to ’sort it out’… it’s Insiders versus the Crazies or its Rebels verses Incumbents. To get these meeting to a successful conclusion –i.e. one that does not blow up the whole organisation – takes great skills.

If you wish greater detail you are welcome to contact me personally mpollecoff@mac.com.

  1. How will you ensure that UKCP is outward looking and does not get bogged down in internal issues?

My manifesto is about the outside world.  People at the UKCP work hard but it’s as if the wheels are spinning but they are not touching the road.  Shape changes are all very well but an organisation’s real shape is determined by the environment they serve, in our case the ever-changing world of mental health and human potential. 

  1. What changes would you make to ensure that the UKCP becomes a more outward looking organisation relevant not just to its members but the public as well?

I would get them out of the office and hearing what the members and user groups have to say.  Right now there is no CPD for the staff and there should be.  We do need to have more truth and reconciliation meetings, members are so angry and they need to make their feelings clear to staff but not on the phone. We need to meet up and hear each other. 

  1. What would you do to protect the long term financial future not just of the UKCP but of its individual members? What are your views on a Union for Psychotherapists to protect pay and conditions and prevent the exploration of the profession by the use unpaid volunteers in place of proper funding?

Let’s start with the union question. I am all in favour of a union and I recently joined the one set up by Andrew Samuels and Nick Totton.  Now whether that union attracts enough members to gain real clout we have yet to find out, but it’s a fascinating and brave development.  I would also like to get back in with Unison. 

There are several words that psychotherapists seem to hate – one of them is ‘money’, another is ‘sales’. 

It is narcissistic to believe that you do not have to sell yourself.  You do.  If you want to make a living in psychotherapy then you have to sell your services into the marketplace. 

And it is a lie to say that you are not interested in money – You are.  I know one provincial member who sees 35 patients a week at £90 a pop and has done since we left college.  I was talking to one member who charges £140 an hour and told me of her friend who charges £450 an hour.  I bet you are interested now.  Whether you think this is disgusting or wonderful – you are interested. 

I see members who have worked all their lives and given and given and now face retirement with fear because they are broke and resentful. They took care of others but not themselves.  There was this wonderful 1970s idea that if you did the right thing then a higher power would take care of the money – well sometimes it did and sometimes it did not. 

Members often talk about this being a vocation.   I think doctors have a vocation but they get paid – quite well actually. 

Until we are able to value our own time we will have problems getting others to value it.   And so I am going to go balls out to sell UKCP psychotherapy.  Both in the Private sector and into the NHS and Charities. 

The long term financial stability of the UKCP depends on the long term financial stability of our members.  They are married together which is how it should be. 

  1. Is the UKCP viable in the long term? Would we not be better seeking merger with BACP and or others? Please comment.

The BACP and the UKCP are competitors. That is to say they are like two brands in the same market place.   Our graduates compete for jobs with BACP graduates, our courses are also in competition for students. 

We are also in conversation and working together in various ways.  Together we are more effective at lobbying for mental health – together we could cut costs. Personally I would like to join the BACP for the member benefits. They have a find a therapist site that produces referrals.  They have a job service that sends opportunities to your phone.  Their magazine is better.  Need I go on?  But even if I did join, like many of our members I would still retain my loyalty to the UKCP – its personal.

And apart from my history in the UKCP there are also the issue of modalities.   What we do through the colleges and the MO’s is to support the growth of different strands of psychotherapy.   We support the idea that there is no one-way through within psychotherapy.  In this reductionist world that’s very important.  We are the last place in the UK where psychotherapies can flourish and find their own way. 

Plus the UKCP is more like a family.  Those people who are active in the UKCP tend to get to know each other and I like that. 

Should we merge?  Well, I am sure the PSA would love that but I do not see much enthusiasm from our members for such a marriage.  You would have to hold a UKCP referendum on such an important issue.  And to do that you would have to have members who really wanted to merge and I have not seen that groundswell.  As for me I want the Modalities and the Colleges to flourish and I would not let go of that.

If there is some wonderful offer on the table I would have to put it to the members but right now I think the competition is healthy.  And we need to improve to compete.   

  1. I would be interested to know what the candidates feel about how far the voluntary regulation of counsellors and psychotherapists go to protect the public from possible harm and how they see this as a good enough system instead of protected titles where you could not legally call yourself a psychotherapist or counsellor without accredited training and membership of a professional organisation.

I understand the intention behind the voluntary register and I see how this goes some way to protecting the public, but I do not understand what the rationale was for not pushing forward with protecting our titles legally.  I also understand the complex difficulties that this potentially presents for such organisations as BACP, UKCP and others in joining together to come to some kind of consensus.

I have seen many children who had been seen before by practitioners without any special training and even come across people doing “counselling” and “art therapy with children” in schools who have had no formal training at all – what these clients have often been left with is such a practitioner being able to open up issues that clients have (with little difficulty as I feel this is something that is relatively easy for most adults to do with children) but then they are left unable to get help from that person to process what they have started to talk about.  I realise that UKCP would not have direct jurisdiction over these practitioners but the law would and I see this as important for the public and also for public trust in our own profession

There is also the connected issue of a certain amount of exclusion from (particularly NHS) jobs as a child psychotherapist.  Most of the advertised jobs that I have seen specify that the therapist must be ACP registered.  This excludes very many Integrative Child Psychotherapists and other modalities.   If there were a protected title set up and therefore an agreed level of training by our professional organisations and government, then the modality your training belonged to would not need to become an issue and NHS could trust that level of training.

It’s my opinion that this would go some distance towards validating our work in the eyes of the NHS and other organisations who are likely to employ us and to boost the professionalism that I imagine most therapists aspire to.

This is a great big question – and a complex one, plus it’s about an issue around which our members tend to split. 

Let me break it down: 

No amount or method of regulation will totally protect the public from abuse.  Under State regulation, Dr Harold Shipman murdered at least 15 people and probably many more.  I know that self-regulation is always suspect- and that is why I intend to hive off the regulatory function of the UKCP from its membership and promotional activities.  

The problem that the NHS faces in mental health is not actually one of quality – rather it is one of quantity.  Only about 5% of those people who could benefit from psychotherapy can actually access it.   So do not ignore the IAPT title ‘Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies’.   It’s not about any gold standard it’s a factory to extend the reach of the NHS mental health service at a kind of affordable price.  Efficiency in a factory depends on being able to eliminate variance in process and so the work is manualised. 

As for protected title – that could only come with state regulation which is no longer on the cards.  

Having said all that some of the Masters courses that we run can be split to give the students a lower diploma in order to fit more easily into the NHS later on. So for instance, Metanoia offer their students a Diploma in Psychodynamic Counselling after the first three year of the Masters.  This is to help them get jobs.  There is much we can do. 


  1. Are we getting value for money?
  2. Given that there are more than 1,000 Direct members of UKCP, it is clear that the old college system is no longer working. What proposals do the potential candidates have for Direct Members going forward…?

Question 1: As a member I do not think I am getting value for money.  I have answered a number of questions on this so I do not really want to repeat myself but we concentrate on the mantra – The UKCP’s purpose is to build the profession of psychotherapy in the UK and then you realise that the only way an organisation of our size can do that is through growing the success of the membership… if we do that then I think we can make a terrific difference to the value we are offering.

Question 2:  The direct member issue is a can that has been kicked too far down the road.  Frankly I do not think that the colleges have had their day because they are organising hubs for ideas.  We are the only place left in the UK which values and encourages such diversity of approaches.  We are like a seed bank of ideas.  And thats how it should be. 

The central office cannot possibly communicate about all the different modalities and specialisations – that work will have to be done at college level.   When we turn outward and face the public then all the relationships within the UKCP look different.  Now despite my arrogance I do not have all the answers.  This is a question that can only be answered by working with the Colleges to make sure that they are not burdened by unremunerated work.


  1. Do you believe that their candidates better suited to this role other than yourselves? If so what would you do to encourage greater participation in the next election?

Yes of course but those candidates did not want the job.  Over the year, I have invited three other people to run with my backing. The first said that she was too shy to do the public work. The second was looking after a dying relative. And the third said that she would rather stick knitting needles in her eyes.  So there we go…

The important thing to remember is that myself and Pat are the ones standing therefore we are the best candidates available. When I used to teach photography I would ask the class which was the best camera for taking those shots that you seem to stumble across.  They would answer “Nikon” or “Leica” or “Canon” but the real answer was: the best camera for those shots is the one you have with you.  

Anyway hats off to Pat for having the courage to stand.  We have 8000 members and only two have stepped forward.   Anyone member can stand – only two wanted this. 

Here is a passage from as speech given by Theodore Roosevelt at the Sorbonne on 23rd of April 1910. It’s known as The Man in the Arena

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. 

Now in answer to the second part of your question: 

Over the past couple of years trustees have been elected without opposition.  Even the role of vice chair remained unfilled until Pat took it.  Members do not want to get involved right now and so we have to make the UKCP the most exciting place to be.  Psychotherapy is really exciting so why in the UKCP so dull.  Make this exciting again, harness the excitement we have over Psychotherapy, and you will be surprised at how many want the honour of being a trustee or the Chair.  

  1. What is your position on child therapy and how do you intend to proceed with regard to the position of the Child College within UKCP

My position on child therapy is that it needs increased funding.   We need to lobby for that.  Right now CAMMS is like legal aid, very difficult to access. As for getting a place in a therapeutic community – a child would have to burn down several schools to get on the waiting list.  

I do not really understand the second part of the question about the position of the Child College within UKCP.  I am just delighted that we have C-CAP.   Like every other college we want you to have the resources and backing to gain publicity for your people – to make heroes of your members.  

The public have empathy fatigue.  Our papers are full of tales of child abuse and neglect.  They are right there alongside stories of redundancies and beheadings.  What we need now are stories about how UKCP accredited Child therapists are making a difference.   

And please if you want to let me know your concerns mpollecoff@mac.com

  1. Do you think that climate change, environmental degradation and the impact of both the direct effects of these and the concomitant anxieties and denials that abound around these issues is a proper concern for UKCP, and if so, what would you propose to do about it?

I think the climate change lobbyists have had a rough time in the UKCP.   I agree that climate change alongside terrorism, war, and financial failure are the existential main causes of anxiety in the 21st century. But if you are asking whether I will throw the full resources of the UKCP behind the climate change lobby or put climate change at the centre of our work, my  answer is No.  There are plenty of such organisations.  My role is to champion the profession of psychotherapy in the UK and frankly we are not doing that properly.  If however you wish to create a college of ‘Eco-Psychotherapy’ or provide information that colleges could use in crafting their diversity programmes, then I would welcome that. 

To Martin:

  1. To Martin:

You say in your manifesto that “Students enrolled on our courses will get free membership” and “In year one, we will set aside a small bursaries fund of £25,000 for those students and members who need a helping hand. “

As a charity governed by a board of trustees, of which the chair is just one, how can you state these with such certainty?

I have been around the UKCP for some time and I have a good feel for the finances.  The £25k is affordable – it’s 1.25% of our turnover.   

My purpose as Chair is to lead a happy board.  And so it’s important that I am able to get their approval. In a previous life I worked for two terrific chairs – Robert Fuller and Sir Kenneth Warren.  I have learnt what is needed to make things happen.  If I force things through there will be damage.  My role as Chair demands working through the board and I want to make changes. I do not think that will be problematic.

Look at it this way.  As you point out, we are a charity. We are concerned with and indeed we oversee education in this field.  And yet we do not offer any help to students from disadvantaged backgrounds.  Even the hated public schools give scholarships and help other poorer schools.   Even army regiments raise funds to look after those members who can no longer support themselves.   These issues go to the heart of being a charity and a membership organisation. We are family with all the difficulties and responsibilities of being a family. 

But it’s your money. If you do not want this to happen, if you think investing in student diversity and helping some of our elders is a waste of your money – do not vote for me.  I am not your man.  

Or, of course we could spend £25k plus on employing a diversity officer (We have already tried that).  If that is the choice – I know which one I would choose.   We can talk about diversity or do it – we can choose to do things ‘right’ or you can do’ the right thing.’  I have talked to quite a few people and I think the board will be behind this.

This is an election. This is one of my election pledges.  Like any election it’s about your chance to choose the future.  It’s about ideas for change.  It’s about doing the right thing and growing psychotherapy in the UK.  It’s about being part of an organisation you can be proud of. 

Now let’s look at the idea of free membership for students.   Frankly this is un-costed.   I need to work on this with the Treasurer – we may have to phase it in.   But we have very few student members when we could have thousands.  Two years ago a fortune was spent on trying to recruit student members.  It did not work; it is much cheaper to offer student membership for free. Let’s look ahead…. 

Over 3,000 of our members are aged between 60 and 80 – now do you see why the students are important if we are to stay relevant?  What’s going to happen when the baby boomers move on?  I want to find new ways to grow our membership and cement our future.  

Running an organisation is like chess.  The Chair’s job is to look to the future and keep the organisation moving towards its ultimate goal. The CEO runs the organisation on a day-to-day, month to month, budget to budget manner.  The Chair’s job is to look to the future for threats and opportunities.   The Chair has a vision and a leadership function.  

An election is not just about the person, it’s about ideas and the future.  It’s a chance to think the unthinkable.   If you vote for me I consider that you are giving me the mandate for change.  But these are not big changes or even new ideas of my own; I work with a group of advisers.  These ideas have been knocking around for some time – there is nothing new here, nothing radical.   

Perhaps the really radical stance would be to insist that the UKCP is a regulator ….full stop.  Now I do not say that’s what has been suggested or even discussed at board level but with the removal of membership benefits and the closure of the diversity committee that is about all we are left with right now. 

But I want you to be very sure.  If you feel that you do not want these changes please do not vote for me.  I am not looking for a job, I am not a contestant in a beauty pageant trying to please the Judges.   I have ideas about the future.  I have shared them with you.   I am looking to make a difference and I need your backing to do that.  

In fact I have already made a difference because people are talking about new ideas.  You are considering things that you have not considered before.  And even if you hate the idea I want you on board.  

But if you find my ideas too dumb, remember you have been offered a choice.  I am not the only candidate.  However I suspect that my colleague, Pat, the other candidate may also be interested in creating bursaries and perhaps free Student membership.  

If I lose, I promise to get out of Pat’s way.  I will not hang around sulking and making mischief.   But if I win, I don’t want you sulking either.  I want us to move forward together.   

When Kennedy was planning his ‘Get a man into space and bring him safely back again within 10 years’ initiative’ he had a meeting with all the experts who knew how to make it happen.  He also included those who said, it could not ever happen, because perhaps they could identify what they considered to be the pitfalls in this idea. Like Kennedy I want a big tent approach. 

To Pat:

  1. What do you think of Martin’s ideas of free student membership and bursaries?

Second document of questions:-

I wonder what your thoughts are on how to protect the position of independent trainers (not part of an RTE). I also wonder about recognition of supervision qualifications awarded by governing bodies like EATA within the UKCP and how they can be better acknowledged.

I have written 30 answers to thirty questions in two days.  I have also seen clients and attended hustings.   All the answers I gave were on areas where I had some insight and technical expertise.  Frankly I know nothing about the position of independent trainers so I am not going to pretend I can answer this first part.  However, when I have a moment to come up for air I shall investigate.  So if you contact me directly mpollecoff@mac.com I can answer you. 

As for the acknowledgment of accredited supervisions: I personally took a year’s supervisor certificate course at Metanoia and I have a marker next to my name on the UKCP website but as no one uses that website – I do not get the referrals I might have hoped for.  Now there is some legalistic issue why the UKCP does not have a UKCP accredited supervisors list but I would like the UKCP to grant such a title.  I think we should make a bid deal over supervisors.


What in your view is the preferred relationship with and difference between the BACP and UKCP; what changes to that relationship would you make and why?

I understand that the UKCP and BACP are in contact with each other and may join in dealing with issues regarding counselling and psychotherapy. I am myself a member of both and benefit from this, but I find it very frustrating that the BACP do not differentiate between counsellors and psychotherapists. Having trained through both professions I view there is a difference and this needs to be recognised, particularly for our clients. The term “therapist” has become common and I believe can be confusing. My issue is with the BACP but I would be very interested to hear the candidates’ views on this and would it be something they would consider raising with the BACP?


Firstly thank you both for standing. I find it reassuring there is competition for this role!

Could you both tell me what you think the challenges are for psychotherapy in the coming five years, and what opportunities do you see on the horizon?

The challenge for the UKCP is to regain the trust of its members. The challenge for psychotherapy is jobs and pay.  The challenge for the world is Refugees, War and Climate Change. 

I see an enormous task of resettling refugees and immigrants to the UK.  We need to do more than use our Westernised therapies. We need to develop new ways of working within a Muslim culture.   I think it will turn parts of our work upon its head as we struggle to move from our Euro-centricity.  

A second big game changer is the Internet.  More and more of us are using the one-to-one video conferencing to work at distance with clients.   I know a lot of our readers may find this appalling but look at it from the point of view as not being a substitute for face-to-face in-the-room meetings but an extension of that.  We can now work with people who are stuck at home or even in prison or those clients who have moved away.  

Look at the refugee issues. Now a Therapist in the UK can reach out and help someone in a camp in Syria, if they have the language skills. This is going to be big.  And as the NHS becomes more hidebound I see an increase in private client work, both for adult clients and children because parents who can avoid it, no longer want their child to get a diagnosis on their NHS records. 


Q. I understand that the UKCP and BACP are in contact with each other and may join in dealing with issues regarding counselling and psychotherapy. I am myself a member of both and benefit from this, but I find it very frustrating that the BACP do not differentiate between counsellors and psychotherapists. Having trained through both professions I view there is a difference and this needs to be recognised, particularly for our clients. The term “therapist” has become common and I believe can be confusing. My issue is with the BACP but I would be very interested to hear the candidates’ views on this and would it be something they would consider raising with the BACP?

This counsellor/psychotherapist question is a red herring.  The only differences that matter between psychotherapy and counselling are ones that might matter to the end user – i.e. the man or woman in the street.   Some time ago we ran a focus group on this subject and they considered a counsellor to be someone they could talk to and a psychotherapist as someone in a white coat.   That’s a problem – there are many more searches online for the word counsellor than there are for psychotherapist so we lose out.  To add insult to injury neither title is protected.    

Of course theoreticians can find some sort of differentiations but nowadays there are highly qualified Rogerian therapists who call themselves Counsellors in deference to their founder – there are counsellors with doctorates.  Must I go on? I would love to find some clear blue water between these terms but it has to be simple and clear and desirable and so far no one has come up with anything – anything simple or clear.

Now what we can say is the UKCP qualification for Psychotherapists and Counselling Psychotherapists is at Master Level or equivalent. I would love the BACP to make a similar distinction but it may not be in their interest to do so. 


Is social exclusion a matter of concern for the profession and how might it be addressed?

Yes, Yes ,Yes!  Of course, exclusion of any kind is always a concern in therapy but I think we need to start at home.

I hate to play this old tune, but we have problems with diversity and exclusion in our own membership.   Unless you have already made money, psychotherapy is not a career option. Our membership does not reflect the make-up of the wider society. 

Over 75% of our members are women, the black and Asian community are under-represented and a person without a strong separate income would find it difficult to do our training. 

The vast majority of our members are over 5O with 3,000 of them over 60….  What happens when these baby-boomers retire? (Figures show that that there is a big drop off in membership at 70). 

We are socially exclusive and that is where I would like to start.  

I know this is a blasphemy for some but I would like to see Psychotherapy BA’s developed so someone can be qualified by us in their early 20’s.  Age may or may not bring wisdom but youth also has much to give. 

We are a charity; one concern is with the education of our profession and yet the UKCP itself does not give bursaries to help aspirants from disadvantaged backgrounds. 

I find that strange.  We do not collect money for socially important projects.  I am suggesting that we do…  


I was wondering if any work was being undertaken to make the “find a therapist” more efficient.  It seems that the BACP’s “good to talk” search gets much higher ranking in Google and that if one searches for therapists in a specific area, the BACP results come up right at the top and the UKCP results come much much lower down. It would be good to know about your online media efforts to make UKCP in general more visible.

‘Find a therapist’ could not be less efficient.  It is non-functioning.   Our IT is out of date but right now the UKCP is investing in its replacement.   There is a team of good people working on this issue and we should see it up and running by early summer. As you may have seen my campaign is run on social media with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn working in concert.  I have a regular blog site too (Look out for the YouTube videos this week). 

Social media and winning on Google rankings require planning. We have some 80 Member Organisations.  If we can work together – and that is a big ‘if’ because you need staff to make this work – then we can top the rankings of a much bigger organisation like BACP.  

I have emphasised that the UKCP has a small core marketing and communication team.  

It is only by working in concert that the UKCP as a whole can deliver on this. 

Hello to both candidates and thank you for so generously offering yourself to take on such a very demanding and important role on behalf of myself and the UKCP membership. I wondered where you both now stand in relation to the issue of state regulation of counsellors and psychotherapists.

Good luck to you both.

When the Government announced that it intended that the Health Professional Council would regulate the profession I was all for it.   However our membership was very split.  And remember the HPC wished to exclude certain colleges from State Regulation. 

You may remember a petition that was signed against it.  Andrew Samuels led the charge on this and then on becoming Chair decided that we would offer our members the option.  They could join or not join.  I thought that was a wise solution.   

The problem as I see it is that in the UK medicine is social medicine.  The NHS is really the only game in town – a true monopoly supplier.   As one of the government team apparently said at the time – “turn your back on this and you consign your members to irrelevancy”.  Anyway for reasons that have nothing to do with us, the government dropped the idea all together.  

I have spoken to members of the BPS who now work under the HPC and they think it’s good but many of our members hate the idea and besides it is no longer on offer.   

The government have by-passed us.  Instead of dealing with the psychotherapists they have IAPT, their own home grown psychotherapy service.  Right now I think that the best way to preserve multi-modality psychotherapy is to make sure that our members have and take up opportunities in the private sector. 


Can you comment on the role of OMs in UKCP in the future and how OMs might be supported in their work?

I personally consider the OMs to be the heart of the UKCP.  It’s where the work is done.  I want to see the UKCP selling our OM’s to the public, that is to say from the minute someone begin to contemplate a career in psychotherapy I want prospective students to be looking at the UKCP route and working with our OMs.  Look at it this way; we have defined the standards for being a psychotherapist, so we should be promoting the organisation where that level of education can be received.  

This is my answer to the question from Andrew of Camden Psychotherapy

This is a question about transparency which is something we need.   We are a complex organisation and a lot of power here is created by retaining or concealing information.

The minutes and decisions from all committees, the executive and the board should be published.  All action decisions should be numbered and have a time line attached so that we can see if they are implemented as they pass from committee to the board.

This should be open to all the members but not necessarily to the public. The issue that lies behind this question is the PSA’s threat of suspension and how it was communicated to the members.   First of all there was a flurry on Linked in and some rather patronising messages from UKCP then a panic broke out.

A large team in the office worked on fixing the problems and they did it well, it’s just we did not communicate this to the members who are quite rightly upset.

So I intend to create trails around all decisions so that you can track them through and see where they are in terms of implementation.   That also means that committee members will see if and when their recommendations get considered.  And when there are issue that threaten your work we will let you know.


Questions from Members answers from Martin

Questions from the Society of Existential Analysis

Dear Martin,
As agreed, please find a list of questions from the SEA membership below. As I previously mentioned, the intention is that your response will be disseminated to all SEA members through our website.
1. What is your response to the current attempts to start a Psychotherapy & Counselling Union? How would they see such a Union in relation to UKCP and how do you understand the growing feeling that such a union may be necessary?

I am a paid-up member of this Union. In order to grow our profession we need jobs. Not just volunteer posts but jobs that pay the kind salaries that reflect the years of training that goes into the making of a Psychotherapist. If we want diversity – we need jobs. If we want younger people involved -we need jobs. 

And if you answer that Psychotherapy is a vocation then so is being a Doctor or a teacher – and they get paid.
Now, if you read my manifesto one of my aims is to create jobs and squeeze the voluntary sector so that we no longer have the government out-sourcing Mental Health to charities whose business model depends on long-term volunteers working for free. Its a scandal. I would even like to see student workers paid minimum wage. In the Westminster Ti-borough the NHS employ 130 plus honorary therapist many of whom are qualified and there is not a single job for them. But to make that squeeze means getting BACP on-side.
As for the relationship of the UKCP to the Union. There is yet to be the first meeting of the Union and no one knows what form it may take or even if there is enough interest, My fees are an investment in possiblity and I back the Union but………I would also like to renew our old alliance with Unison.
The purpose of the UKCP is to promote the profession of Psychotherapy in the UK – to do that we need to stop people taking advantage of our members and students. Right now we are turning out student into a world without jobs for them and not everyone is suited to private practice. Think of it our 7800 members giving 450 hours of their time for free that’s 3510,000 donated hours before we are even qualified – enough is enough.
2. What is your view towards research, and how do you aim to develop research that can support the counselling and psychotherapy professions by impacting upon policy and national guidelines?
We have lots of research. Really good research and we will continue to build upon that resource. But the public don’t read research and nor does it seem that policy makers do. If you want a piece of research that changes policy – read Lord Lanyards original proposal for the ideas that became IAPT. (His report on Depression). There he presents a simple idea – its cheaper to cure Depression through CBT than it is to keep people on benefits – that hist the spot. (Did you know his father was a Jungian Analyst) 
I want stories. I want drama and Narrative. We are quick to point our social ills but slow to show how our work has helped people move on with their lives. Our members are doing terrific work and we need to publicise that. In an age of child abuse financial failure and beheadings The public have empathy exhaustion – let’s give them Stories about our work. 
3. Why, and why not, do you believe you are an appropriate candidate?
I am a discontent insider. I served a full term as a trustee- I have been on the executive – served on committees – 
I have I have a good idea how UKCP works. My interest is in creating member benefits . I am an experienced Marketeer and have a good track record of being able to create. If you want to know why I should not be – ask Pat Hunt. 
You have three choices in this election. Don’t vote. Vote for Pat who is offering to continue Janet’s work. Or me – I have put forward some ideas, If you disagree with them vote for Pat. I am not a contestant in a Beauty Pageant simpering at the Judges. I am not looking for a job – I want to make a difference. I have put forward ideas. They are not radical in fact they take us back to the time when the UKCP had a clear purpose – to grow the profession of psychotherapy in the UK. I want to do that. And I need a mandate to do that. If you are hesitant – vote Pat. I can not make changes without a proper mandate not for me but for ideas. 
4. From both a personal and professional standpoint, what is the most radical shift you would like to see happen to, or within, the UKCP (and why)?
Right now the UKCP has no clear purpose, no strategy and no vision – the most radical shift we can make is to accept that we must return to our original purpose -‘ to Promote the profession of Psychotherapy in the UK’ when you do that – your priorities become clear. 
5. Do you locate/envisage a role for social activism and change within psychotherapeutic practice, and if so, what your current relationship to this is?
Absolutely – we are progressive organisation. We have some 80 member organisations we have Colleges and individual members and we encourage social activism. I am the Chair and my role is to empower others not to lead my own crusades. I have my own organisation www.thelongboathome.co.uk which offers low cost therapy to ex-services men and women and their families. I launched it 8 years ago at a UKCP -AGM. (I trained in Somatic Experiencing Babette Rothschild at the Cambridge Body Centre)
I run it, I am proud of that – the UKCP approves it but its separate. It’s not the UKCP’s thing, its mine. 
6. How do you propose to represent and promote those approaches to therapy, like Existential Analysis, that have been sidelined in the current NICE/IAPT understanding of ‘evidence base’ and their emphasis on therapy as a quasi-medical ‘treatment’? Are you more interested in aligning UKCP with government policy in order to promote the profession or challenging these policies?

Psychotherapy is not a science. It is informed by science and research but it is also informed by anthropology, ethics, philosophy, many other disciplines and sometimes social activism. We are or should be a stand alone profession able to work alongside Psychiatrists and Psychologists on a an equal basis but we will not pass muster at NICE. 

It is not our role to cow-tow to NICE or IAPT we have to create our own space. 

If we do that and we fail – at least we have undertaken a proper task. Everything else is a fudge

 We do have evidence for our work and we need more in terms of outcome studies.  Some our members might wish to write therapies that can conform with Nice’s needs , Like DIT and Counselling for Depression  – that’s all great, but that’s not what we were taught and I do not think that is what is in our hearts. If we can demonstrate that what we are doing is effective, then we will win work.  

IAPT is a mental health factory that is bound by certain political promises to provide exactly the same level of service across the country.  I understand the need to increase access to psychological therapies, IAPT is a means to do that without bankrupting the NHS (any more than it is).   They need quantity of service rather than quality.  Most of us do not fit into or even agree with their model.  

7. Do you consider it within the UKCP remit to develop and provide telephone guidance and signposting to members on the various ethical and legal issues that individual practitioners encounter from time to time? (Currently members have to maintain a separate membership with BACP to obtain this service).
It would be nice however right now we are not even up to maintaining a ‘find a therapist’ site. 
8. What is your position regarding the continuing existence of the College structure in the continuing Shape Review, and do you have a view on how they should be constituted?
I support the college system as I support a plethora of therapies being developed – we need to encourage radical thinkers to create new therapies and develop old ones.  In the UK we are the only place supporting this diversity.   It’s a UKCP core strength.   (Right now I am discussing an Islamic facing therapy with some Islamic researchers- that would be new). 
In Irvin Yalom’s latest book Creatures of a Day,  he describes Psychotherapy as – ‘A good conversation’ and he fears that this conversation is ending under the influence of insurance companies and government advisors.  I want the UKCP to be the bastion of ‘the good conversation’. 
9. Assuming you support the continuing existence of Colleges, what steps will you be taking to curtail the increasing normalisation of psychotherapy, and to increase the freedom of Colleges to set standards of practice etc.  in line with their own philosophy?
By encouraging and promoting freedom and being inclusive.  I am interested in the Outliers.  I help organise the Transpersonal Special Interest Group Lectures and we get some way out characters there….thankfully.  But I shall also ask the colleges to promote their own ideas into the world . Central office can help and resource them but they are the only ones who have the knowledge to talk with confidence about their work. 
10. What is your view regarding Direct Membership (DM) to UKCP and the accompanying haemorrhaging of Organisational Members that this anomaly is causing, as well as the fact that responsibility for monitoring standards of DMs sits at College level? Or do you see the UKCP becoming a generic organisation in line with the BACP?
Let me answer the second part, first ….NO. 
The direct member thing,  is a can that has been kicked down a long road. We have to get together and do what works.  Having said that, many Organisational Members do very little for their annual fees.   From the top downwards we have to give our members value.   Education should not be a life time Tax.  
11. What is your stance on the current debate regarding DBS checks for all members and is this something that you think UKCP central should take a stand on? 

I am running for the role of Chair.   There are many things UKCP will do that I personally don’t like but I will be advised by our members and committees.  One of the problems of the past is that members are asked to research something and they do a lot of work then that is dropped,  simply because the Chair takes over the decision.  There has been too much of that. So I am reluctant to publicly pronounce on something like this –  I will check with our lawyers and our committees. 

12. Do you have a view regarding Mandatory Reporting, which, as you know, is currently being discussed at UKCP?
We already have Mandatory reporting on issues like Terrorism, Money Laundering and on-going abuse of minors.  On a personal basis I dislike anything that limits the therapeutic conversation, but again,  I await the recommendation of our committees which then has to be ratified, or not, by the Board.  I am being elected as Chair not Chief. 
13. Given the very clear message that came from the Psychotherapy Council last year that what members most want from the UKCP is that the high standards that the membership adhere to and uphold (in comparison to other entry level organisations) should be clearly articulated and more widely recognised (i.e. that the UKCP has been too inward looking, in that the majority of its resources have and continue to be taken up with regulatory matters), what steps do you intend to take to redress the balance and promote the UKCP to the benefit of both its members and the public in general?
We are going to start communicating what we are all about.   Richard is our ‘Head of Communications’ and it would be wrong to pre-empt his plans but my plan is to make heroes of our members in the press on TV, radio, on Bloggs in books, and sprayed on the sides of tall buildings.   If I define the purpose of the UKCP as building the profession of Psychotherapy in the UK – that points to finding ways to get our message and our values across to the Public.  

As I said in my manifesto, we will offer members low-cost training in social media, in writing, public speaking, web-site construction  – all the arts of communication because I want to harness the communications power of our members and member organisations and colleges.  The centre can not communicate for everyone but we can resource organise and train.  

I must emphasis here that for three of the past fur years there has been no-one in the role of Communications Manager.  Now we have a manager but its just the beginning. 
If you were to look at the UKCP today you would see a regulatory body with the bare remnants of a membership organisation just about recognisable.  For me its time to re-emphasise the purpose of the UKCP and to start to repair the damage.  

Best wishes Martin 


PS Paul I am writing this at 5am before driving to Birmingham for an EGM. Please excuse my spelling 

Thank you in advance for taking the time to respond.
Kind Regards,
Questions from the Society of Existential Analysis