Ger Murphy practices as a psychotherapist at the Creative Counselling Centre, Dun Laoghaire, having trained at the Minster Centre London in Humanistic and Integrative Psychotherapy.
The past months have been exciting ones in the development of humanistic and inte grative psychotherapy in Ireland. We have seen the formal inauguration of the first professional body to represent practitioners of this section of psychotherapy. Like many such initiatives it has taken outside events to help to harness the energy required to initiate such a venture. In this case it was the evolving situation in Europe with regard to psychotherapy regulation (referred to elsewhere in Emmy van Deurzen Smith’s article in this issue) which created the context out of which IAHIP has emerged.
Psychotherapy in Ireland which has for years developed in a rather piecemeal fashion has found that, in order to have an input into discussions Europe-wide on the development of the profession, it needed to form a clear representative structure. This is currently taking place with the formation of the Irish Standing Conference for Psychotherapy. The ISCP is proposing a structure whereby the profession be divided along sectional lines based on the underlying theoretical model of practitioners. It has therefore been put forward to have five sections – Analytic, Behavioural, Constructivist, Family, and Humanistic and Integrative. Each section would assess, accredit and form a register of practitioners of those trained and practicing in this field of psychotherapy.
There have existed for some time training programmes in Humanistic and Integrative Psychotherapy in Ireland, ranging from the single method base of the Gestalt Centre to the integrative approach of the Creative Counselling Centre integrating Gestalt, Body Psychotherapy and Transpersonal Psychotherapy. However, these and other trainings, while qualifying graduates, have not undertaken an accreditation process (accreditation being seen as a renewable license to practice. Along with these there are a number of Humanistic and integrative Psychotherapists who have trained in England and the US. It is from this population mainly that the membership of the new Association are being drawn. Those eligible to apply for voting member status are those who have undertaken their own psychotherapy and have practiced as a humanistic and integrative psychother- apist for a minimum of two years. There are now over 60 voting members in the Association. There are also a large number of associate members who, because of the incompleteness of their training/practice experience cannot become as yet voting members but who wish to be involved in the discussions on the development of the Association.
Members of the Association will only be accredited as full members when they have met accreditation standards. The ad hoc committee of the Association has drafted possible accreditation criteria which are undergoing discussion prior to adopting a firm set of criteria. The draft includes:
A. Personal psychotherapy of a minimum of 120 hours including not less than:
i) 60 hours individual one-way psychotherapy and ii) 60 hours group psychotherapy.
B. A training component of 150 hours of humanistic and integrative psychotherapy theory.
C. A practice component of 400 hours psychotherapeutic practice under supervision over a minimum of two years. Supervision to be at least on a fortnightly basis.
D. The training component to also include 200 hours learning in a group context which would include a focus on skills development, peer practice and experiential training workshops.
Furthermore, accredited psychotherapists would:
a) abide by the Code of Ethics of the Association b) present themselves for accreditation every five years c) show commitment to on-going professional development d) be committed to maintaining appropriate on-going support and supervision structures for example peer supervision.
Such criteria will also need to take account of the necessity of allowing for equivalence by practitioners of long standing or a ‘grandfather clause’ as it is so called.
It is important also that in deciding on accreditation standards we pay due attention to issues of quality of practice as well as quantity in terms of hours. This is of the utmost importance as we move towards regulation and when a focus on hours of training can seem to take precedence. I would suggest that the Association might look to systems of peer practice review initiated in other professions such as medicine etc. to ensure that we do not get diverted from this crucial issue of quality.
The Association has a great deal of work ahead in the years to come and already work ing parties are set up to draw together the thinking on various issues such as the code of ethics. The work of the Association is now to be overseen by the executive committee which consists of the following people:
Kathy Cunningham, Martin Duffy, Donal Healy, Susan Lindsay, Una Maguire, Mary Montaut, Catherine Murray, Ger Murphy, Patrick Nolan, John O’Neill, Joan O’Leary, Mary Paula Walshe.
In conclusion I believe that although the impetus for the development of the Association has been an external one, this is but in the short term. The Association is also already beginning to meet an important networking need for members and will, I hope, also be of assistance in providing a forum for ongoing professional support and continued education to its members.