It is becoming increasingly difficult to find a place to speak freely. Psychotherapists, psychoanalysts and counsellors report that it is less and less possible to question organisational practice, fearful of overt or covert punishment. Academics in our universities fear for their jobs if they speak out. Most importantly, the therapeutic space itself has become subject to various insistences – what is sayable, what is hearable, what must be reported, what technique must look like. Neoliberalism, the rise in the audit culture, and the overregulation of therapy challenges such freedoms. So what do we do? We have, it seems, a few options:
- Do nothing.
- Try and change the way in which NICE goes about producing its recommendations, including its language, challenge the composition of Guideline Development Groups and the use of Randomized Controlled Trials as a meaningful way of assessing psychotherapy.
- Take the advice of people who suggest we do not fight NICE and RCTs but attempt to ape CBT’s success with manualisation, and so on.
- Help stimulate very different potential cultural changes and critically develop our own work to help those who want to explore personal meaning; and for research, stick to case studies as well as collaborations and learnings from those outside our field.
We argue the fourth option is the only real one for the therapy professions. We have, surely, a duty to preserve spaces where those suffering can come to talk freely. To date, we have published a book Critical Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis and Counselling and held our inaugural conference at the Freud Museum. The book and conference developed a critical psychotherapy manifesto and action plan. We have come together to form a Unit to build communities that will fight to preserve and build psychotherapy as a critical, open, sometimes subversive space. We believe the importance of a practice oriented to free speech trumps allegiance to any particular therapeutic modality, and welcome anyone with similar interests to come and join us. Will you?
Professor Del Loewenthal, Co-Chair, The Society for Critical Psychotherapy