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The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy Prioritises Social Justice over Therapy

On its home page, the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) makes explicit what we all already suspect; for this professional body social justice trumps therapy.

Look at the home page, for a statement which lays out the organisation’s philosophy, it is confused and philosophically incoherent. In fact it looks as if the sentence about the BACP’s desire for social justice has just been inserted into what would otherwise have been a pretty standard generic statement about supporting therapy and practitioners. And, of course, the insertion strategy has been used very successfully by activists in the therapy professions (see CTA book, Chapter 1). For another example of a similarly incoherent vision statement, have a look at the recent attempt by the Yale Psychiatry Department – larded with buzz words and full of vague, confusing and contradictory aims.

It is worth noting that this statement of allegiance comes right at the start of the description and it raises all kinds of questions such as:

First and foremost, what is the ‘social justice’ that determines everything they do? It isn’t explained. Do they mean Critical Social Justice (CSJ) or something more woolly? Is this a deliberate motte and bailey rhetorical strategy (see article on broaching which provides a detailed example of how this strategy has been applied to the therapy field)? Clarifying this is important because the epistemology of CSJ operates against empirical evidence-based practice.

What happens if there is an ethical conflict between prioritising social justice and actual therapeutic practice?

What about the, presumably, 1000’s of members and tens of 1000’s of clients for whom social justice is not their express priority? Is the BACP now advocating for a moral re-education of these people?

And, finally, a new president, Prof Lynne Gabriel, has just been appointed. Her statement of purpose on the BACP website is “I see my role as being a supportive presence and, maybe occasionally, an appropriately challenging presence to support BACP.” Will she challenge the ideological capture of this professional body or just go along with it? Here at CTA, we will wait and see, but we don’t feel hopeful as courage has been in very short supply at the senior level in the professional therapy world.

See the verbatim extract below from the BACP home page.

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