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Hinshelwood, R.D. (1985). Questions of Training. Free Associations, 1C(2):7-18.

(1985). Free Associations, 1C(2):7-18

Questions of Training

R. D. Hinshelwood

In 1858 the Medical Profession was regulated for the benefit of the public by a statutory instrument requiring all practitioners to be registered. At that time, some 25% of people practising as ‘doctors’ (5,000) were untrained! The state of the profession of psychotherapy is much the same now. Nobody knows how many psychotherapists there are in Britain, nor even how to decide who is one and who is not; and nobody knows how many psychotherapy trainings there are, nor yet what constitutes a proper training.

There has, however, been considerable anxious debate about these definitions since the Foster Report (Enquiry into the Practice and Effects of Scientology) in 1971. This enquiry was set up because of the discovery by Scientologists of an effective ‘psychotherapeutic method’ of relieving people of their money. Since then, some consensus on a definition of psychotherapy has begun to emerge. It appears that the term should be ‘indicative’ (that is, regulation of who calls himself a psychotherapist). This avoids the problem of having to define what psychotherapy is (a functional definition).

But who should be allowed to call himself a psychotherapist? Sir John Foster, in his report, bluntly says, I have become convinced that it is high time that the practice of psychotherapy for reward should be restricted to members of a profession properly qualified in its techniques, and trained (Foster, 1). In fact entry into most professions is customarily restricted through a recognized training resulting in certification of competence. One of the curiosities about the psychotherapy profession is that it lacks such a rite de passage.

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